5 Things to Know Before Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Here is your new guide on everything you need to know before Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


Now I’m not talking about brushing your teeth and putting deodorant on although that will actually help a lot, this is about keeping yourself and your equipment clean. Aside from injury and illness, the only other thing that can keep you off the mats is Ringworm. For those of you who don’t know, Ringworm is a fungus that you can get from training mixed martial arts in an unclean environment. So anything from training on mats that don’t get cleaned regularly to going with someone who hasn’t washed their Gi or themselves properly can cause it. And of course, rolling with someone that already has Ringworm is a sure-fire way to get it.

You should be doing everything possible to make sure you are not the one spreading anything around in your gym and you can start by doing simple things like getting a wash straight after training and making sure all of your gear is clean. I know from experience that if you are training several times a week it’s impossible to wear the same Gi every day, most of the time it’s still wet and sometimes you just forgot to take it out of your bag from the night before. So if you are looking for a new Gi then check out our shop, my personal favourite is the lightweight as it will dry off faster and it’s easier to move around in so it fits my game well. If you are unsure of what Gi is best for you then why not have a look at my guide here.

Sometimes things are out of your control though and while you are doing your part other might not be. Normally that’s down to things like a member of your gym slacking and going to the toilet without putting any footwear on or someone stepping onto the mats with their shoes on. If you see anything like that you have every right to call them out on it or mention it to the head instructor and let them take care of it.

First tip for starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Leave your shoes at the side of mat.

Sometimes though it can be one of the instructors who’s causing the problem by not keeping that mats or training equipment clean. Most gym memberships are not cheap and if you feel like your teacher is not providing you with a clean environment then again you have every right to tell them how you feel. And if that doesn’t solve the problem you will always be able to find another gym that meets your expectations.


Similar to hygiene, grooming is a massive part of your training and I bet you never even knew it. Firstly, we will start with the nails. Your fingernails and toenails should never be long enough to scratch someone. I’m sure we have all seen someone in the gym with a scratch across their face caused by their training partner catching them during a roll. Now imagine that same injury but to someone’s eye. Not a nice thought and I’m sure you wouldn’t be happy if it happened to you so think about others before you step onto the mat.

This one is more for the girls but there are definitely a few guys out there as well who should listen. If you have long hair then keep it tied back or up out of the way. No one wants your hair going in their face or mouth mid-roll and you don’t want to keep stopping during training to fix your hair and make the other person just sit there and wait.

Manners / Respect

Now before I start every gym is different and that means they will all have rules or traditions that differ. Firstly, a lot of gyms will want you to go around and shake everyone’s hand when you walk onto the mats so that’s why it’s good to show up early and have a stretch off and that means everyone will have to come over to you instead.

An unwritten rule in Jiu-Jitsu is that you slap hands and then bump fists before you all try and kill each other. Some places used to just do one of the above but recently it has become ubiquitous in the community and even competitions but it’s best to ask if you are unsure when you first arrive.

Bumping fists before rolling

Bowing before you walk onto the mats and before you leave them is also common practice but this is not something that is required. A lot of people do it simply because they witnessed someone else do it when they first started and it’s stuck ever since. As with shaking hands, this may not be mandatory, it is just to show respect so just have a look around and see what others are doing and you will figure it all out soon enough.

Bowing before you step onto the mats

And finally, after the class is finished most of the time the instructor will have everyone line up in belt order so if you are a white belt them make sure you go to the right end. And then always the hardest part of the class, going around and shaking everyone’s hand while you try to remember their names.

Respect your training partner

This ties into hygiene and grooming but there are also a few more things that I should point out. Your partner is the most important person on the mats because if he can’t train then neither can you. This is why you want to make sure that you are not the one causing people to have time off training. So make sure those nails are trimmed and check yourself regularly for Ringworm.

Another important thing to remember while you are all trying to attack each other is that you don’t have to be rough or injure someone to “win”. When you are starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you will find that some people are stubborn and will refuse to tap even during training and risk injury just so you can’t submit them. But really they are putting you in an awful situation, do you really want to hurt someone just because they won’t tap? BJJ is known as the gentle art but I’ve found that a lot of beginners will keep pulling, just to get the tap but the more advanced students in the class will normally release or just swap to another move. For example, if you have the arm-bar on but they aren’t tapping, just swap to the wrist lock and try to get the submission from there.

Personally, I love the triangle and chokes as it doesn’t matter how much they resist or how hard you pull, you won’t end up causing any long term damage. They may go asleep, which isn’t ideal but you can still get the submission and you’ve done it without hurting them

Most of you will have probably heard the saying that you never lose in BJJ because even if you tap you are still learning. Some people may disagree with this but I think it’s right. If you get caught in the same move 5 rolls in a row you will probably want to figure out what you are doing wrong and stop it from happening. So don’t be that guy who is putting their classmates in a difficult situation, tap and you can even ask them what you should have done to escape or how you can stop them from getting you in the first place.

Learn how to tie your belt.

Learn how to tie your belt before starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

And finally, the most important thing to know when starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, how to tie your belt. There are two main ways that you can tie it and I’m sure you will be able to find a tutorial online, however, most beginners opt for the standard double knot. While it’s the quickest way to do it, it’s certainly not the best. A simple knot can come in handy though sometimes and when you have to face the gym enforcer is a perfect example. Instead of getting destroyed for a solid 5 minutes you can take your time to put your belt back on before continuing with the roll and get that extra few second of air before you’re straight back to it. So keep that in mind for whenever you’ve got to face the big guy or the one who will bounce all over you and never stop moving. Probably not the most ethical tip here but it may come in handy one day.