Thus Begins Your Journey
Congratulations on deciding to decode the mysteries of the gentle art. The experience of a first Brazilian jiu jitsu class is highly highlight-reel material. You’ll see for yourself after getting a few months under your belt—it’s right up there with the memories of a first kiss, first time you ever rode a bike, the first time you cut class to catch the movies…you get the drift.
But first, let’s get into the habit of writing it as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, if you noticed the hyphen, then you’ve got an eye for detail, and you’ll be calling upon this skill to learn the ways of the gentle art.
Coming back, to have the first class you deserve, there are a few things you need before hitting the mats, specifically regarding what to wear. There isn’t a dress code per se, but like every sport, you need to wear the right gear to train, and it’s mostly for your own protection. Prevention better than cure, right?
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: am I going to get punched in the face? Well, not intentionally, but since you’ll eventually attempt submissions or defend them, limbs will be involved, and at times, a flailing limb or your training partner’s manoeuvre from full mount does catch you flush on the face.
However, you don’t have to worry about that, because you’re going to carry a mouth guard, won’t you? What I learned by stopping a leading head to the face, you learned by reading—lucky fella. Spring for a single mouth guard and mold it to your liking; I prefer using a double mouth guard because there’s a better bite to it. See what works for you, but definitely shop for one.
The purpose of a rash guard is to protect you from, you guessed it, rashes. It even protects from abrasions you might get because of mat burns and body friction. In addition, wearing one is preferable for hygiene purposes, especially when compared with exchanging sweat, bare back and bare chested.
By its very nature, a rash guard is lightweight, drys quickly, and doesn’t hinder your movements because of its stitching and synthetic fabric, making your rolls nice and smooth. If you can’t find one on an urgent basis, a compression fit T-shirt would work just as well.
Compression Tights or Shorts
Track pants won’t do, so swap them out with compression fit tights/leggings, for the same benefits that rash guards give, or you can put on pair of shorts. Do ensure the shorts don’t have zips or pockets of any kind.
With zips, you could injure your training partner when you drill or roll. Pockets on the other hand are an annoyance when your sparring partners’ feet and hands keep getting stuck in them.
If all of the abovementioned pointers were for protection, this one is for tradition. Brazilian jiu jitsu—glad you noticed the missing hyphen—having evolved from Judo, traditionally involves training in a Gi: it comprises a jacket, a pair of drawstring trousers, and a belt that signifies rank. This can be considered a uniform, and most school systems require a Gi if your wish is to attain a colored belt, which for you and me (white belts) would be the progression to a blue belt (purple, brown, black, coral, and red follow suit, but we’ll get to belt progression in a later post).
However, if you don’t want invest in one right now, that’s fine too. Stick to the essentials mentioned above and you’ll be set for now. Later on, you’ll discover that training in the Gi seriously strengthens your grips and your understanding of the art, especially during the nascent stages of being a white belt, which is a topic for later discussion.
Get to Rolling!
With that in mind and hopefully on your shopping list, you’re ready to roll. I wish you all the best for your first class, and I hope this quick read helped. Don’t forget, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and not Brazilian jiu jitsu. Oss!