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5 Tips to Prepare For Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class
2019 is now upon us. If you are getting ready for your first BJJ class there are some key things you can focus on to make the new journey a little easier to travel. Showing up to your first class can be quite intimidating if you are unsure of what you are walking into. So here are 5 helpful tips for new students.
Any new endeavor can bring some anxiety because of our natural response to the unknown. Our minds wander and can make assumptions about people, places, and things. BJJ can help push your comfort zone unlike anything else. This immense benefit can only be achieved through embracing a good deal of discomfort.
You’ll never find a place or activity where a group of like minded people will throw each other on the floor and apply a strangle hold only to get up, high five, and do it again. This unique situation can only come with the understanding that in those tough moments you are building foundations within yourself that will apply to your own life.
In this case prior exposure to the word “jiu-Jitsu” is important. If the first time you heard those words uttered was watching the early UFC events you might feel differently than someone whose first exposure to Jiu-Jitsu was dropping their kid off for a class. . Every school is different, but should have the same goal of helping you achieve YOUR goals whatever they may be. Most BJJ schools are welcoming and are willing to help you achieve whatever it is you set out to accomplish.
That said, ultimately you are paying for a service. You should set expectations for yourself as well as the academy you train at. Expectations for you may include things like training frequency, keeping an open mind, and considering others. Expectations for the gym might include cleanliness, culture, and instruction. It is fair to have reasonable expectations, because then it allows you to hold yourself accountable.
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Understanding the tap
Typically a first time student without any experience won’t be thrown into a live sparring session. If you are going to your first class don’t expect to participate in the live rolling session of class. Your first month or two of Jiu-Jitsu should be focused on basic moves and movements. If there is a lingering pressure from academy pushing you into a sparring session, politely decline and observe. This is red flag. Beginners should be treated properly, and feeding them to more experienced practitioners is a no go.
Tapping and ego go hand in hand. When you are OBSERVING the first couple of rolling sessions you will see people tap out. This is acknowledging defeat, and it will happen every step of your BJJ journey. For beginners this can be one of the most difficult lessons. Not only can resisting a tap lead to serious injury that you cause, it stifles growth. Spending time wasting energy can lead to fatigue which will make you train less. Less training equal less learning, so spend more time doing Jiu-Jitsu instead of using all of your strength to fight the inevitable.
Keep an open mind
An essential skill when learning martial arts is to have an open mind. This doesn’t mean having blind faith and you should never ask any questions, but it does mean you have to invest some trust into your instructor. You will encounter unusual positions at first and questions will arise. This is a good thing, but spending all of your time questioning every detail can cause a lack of repetitions. Reps are king in BJJ, by performing a technique continuously can answer some of the questions you originally had.
Find meaning and have fun
Regardless of the goals and expectations you set on yourself when beginning your BJJ journey it is important that you find what BJJ means to you. It can be your fitness tool, or it can be your church in a sense. Attaching purpose to why you choose to practice Jiu-Jitsu will lead to longevity in training. The more you put into Jiu-Jitsu the more you get in return. This is what makes Jiu-Jitsu enjoyable or “fun” for many of its most hardcore practitioners.
Explaining how several nights a week you drive to a place where there are other individuals are simulating murder on you can be a difficult task. Finding enjoyment in getting smashed can be hard. Fun is more of a result at the end of the process. The feeling you have driving home after a hard BJJ session is unlike anything else. So enjoy the journey and thanks for taking the first step!