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5 Things Jiu-Jitsu Beginners Need to Know

1. Have Good Personal Hygiene

Jiu-jitsu is an intimate, contact sport. To be a good teammate at your start as a white belt and for your own health, best practice is shower before class, ensure fresh breath, wear clean gi or no-gi (rashguard, shorts or tights) uniform, and shower as soon as possible after class. There are special anti-bacterial soaps (Defense Soap) to help protect from viruses like staph infection. Staph is the last thing anyone wants and is potentially life-threatening. It is everyone’s best interest in the gym to never allow it to be introduced. Don’t be the person who brings it into the gym. Also, ensure your fingernails and toenails are clipped and short – long fingernails can cause cuts (worst case, extreme scenarios: cutting a cornea or retina, causing infection, blindness or even losing an eye).

Bleeding opens up to disease. Immediately disinfect and seal cuts away from the mats; clean any blood off the mats.

Never walk barefoot in a bathroom then onto the mats or with your shoes on the mats. Gyms always have their systems for keeping mats clean – feel free to offer to help.

Abiding by all these basics means reducing worry and freely enjoying jiu-jitsu. This is constant all the way to black belt!  

2. Show up and be humble

It’s difficult to develop in jiu-jitsu without attending class on a regular basis. Coming to class everyday but acting like a know-it-all is an impediment to progress (and can rub teammates the wrong way). What everyone wants from a beginner is consistency in attendance and positive attitude. Being humble is a sign of a trustworthy teammate and simply being there means you’re doing what you can to be a good teammate.

Jiu-jitsu is a self-correcting system – if someone lacks humility, a more experienced practioner will remind them to be humble. Anyt ego or attitude problems beyond that, you may be asked to leave. Jiu-jitsu schools are a positive community – integrate as you would anywhere else you want to be a welcome contributor.

3. Ask Questions

Jiu-jitsu is a fitness practice and a philosophy all at once. It is a personal journey where a team shares knowledge. For those reasons, you are encouraged to ask relevant questions. No good jiu-jitsu school faults students for seeking best practices. Your instructor and team want you to be the best jiu-jitsu practioner you can be. Asking questions during demonstrations, or to your training partner when rolling (live sparring) are how to discover what works, learn and try new techniques.

4. Be Patient

Everyone is the nail before they are the hammer. It takes time to get competent, let alone decent or good. Patience is a sign of a healthy attitude. You can still push yourself while being patient. Insider secret: patience is required at every level too. A short temper doesn’t last in jiu-jitsu. There are so many techniques, positions, details, and submissions in jiu-jitsu, patience is truly a virtue.

5. Prepare Outside of Class


Jiu-jitsu is a complex, ever-changing art form. To develop the right skills, especially early on, it’s good practice to watch tape. Watch legends on YouTube, live tournaments on FloGrappling or UFC Fight Pass. Feeling old school? Order some DVD’s or Eddie Bravo instructional books. Techie? Marcelo Garcia has his curriculum online.

Physically, yoga, stretching, breakdancing(!), strength and conditioning, swimming, biking, running or other physical activities will bolster your jiu-jitsu.


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