Starting a new martial art can be a bit intimidating. Here are a few pieces of information to help you feel prepared.
1. Bring a pair of flip flops. Jiu jitsu is a barefooted sport, so when you have to step off the mat, you’ll need your shoes nearby. It’s a big taboo to wear shoes on the mats, or to go barefoot in the bathrooms, lobby, etc.
2. Brush your teeth, come showered and in fresh clothes. Be sure to trim your nails before class. You’ll be in close contact with your training partners so these are much appreciated courtesies. If you participate in a high cardio class right beforehand, bring a change of clothes for jiu jitsu. Avoid being branded as ‘stinky gi guy’ and wash your gi in between EVERY USE!
3. Take off your jewelry (even wedding bands) before you start training. Jewelry can cause injury to yourself or your training partners (oh, the horrors I’ve seen!).
4. When it’s a no gi class, wear a tight fitted top (think the classic Under Armour rash guard – check rollmore.com for deals on jiu jitsu outfits). Feel free to layer a t-shirt over this. On bottom, wear compression shorts or tights, and feel free to wear board shorts over top of them. For a gi class, many dojos are ok with you trying the class without the traditional uniform once or twice, but if you plan to stick with jiu jitsu, you should be wearing a gi by your second or third week. Consider getting a mouth guard as well – I recommend the Venum mouth guards because they fit well and are relatively cheap.
5. There are no medals handed out at practice. We’re here to train hard, but not to injure our training partners. Don’t be that new guy using brute strength! It’s not impressive, it won’t help you improve, and it’s a good way to scare away training partners, especially those skilled competitors who want to stay healthy for their next competition.
6. “Wax on, wax off!” There is a culture of respect synonymous with jiu jitsu. Be on time for class. If you’re late, acknowledge the instructor when you arrive. Many dojos require that you bow before stepping onto the mat, and when stepping off the mat. Almost all classes will line up before class by ranking (if you’re a new white belt, you’ll be at the back), and line up and bow out after class as well. Additionally, many gyms have their students sweep and mop the mats after class. If you want to wow the gym you’re visiting, offer to help with cleaning the mats!