Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is rapidly gaining popularity these days. It is one of the key arts found in the UFC, it is loved by Joe Rogan, and many celebrities now train it. Russel Brand recently got his blue belt, and if that has inspired you to give it a go, you’re probably wondering what you need to get started.
BJJ is different from many other martial arts. It’s a long road to black belt and it will test you in many ways when you train, but getting started is easy. There are just three things that you will need:
It takes a long time to get promoted in BJJ, and even when you do get promoted, having a colored belt doesn’t automatically mean that you will ‘beat’ all white belts in sparring. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training involves a lot of sparring, and you can expect to find classes very hard for a long time.
This is perfectly normal. Even the purple belts that you see on the mat struggled when they were new and still have bad days on the mat today. Embrace the grind, and you will see results over time.
2) The Right Gear
You can train BJJ ‘no-gi’, or in the gi. If you train no-gi, you should look for compression tops and shorts that do not have pockets or zippers. If you train in the gi, then you want a proper BJJ gi with a thick collar and strong pants. Good brands include Gold BJJ, Scramble, Valor, Shoyoroll, and Hypnotick.
As a beginner, you don’t have to spend a fortune, there are gis for around $70 that will serve you well enough. Just make sure that they are ‘IBJJF Legal’ if you are interested in competing, and that they are the right size. BJJ gi sizes are a little different to normal sizes, so check the size charts for the brand you like before you buy.
3) The Right Studio
BJJ practitioners don’t usually call the place they train at a dojo, rather, they’ll say gym, or studio. It’s important that you find a studio that you enjoy training at, with people you trust and an instructor with the right personality and teaching style, as well as legitimate skills.
In BJJ, lineage is important. Any good instructor will be able to tell you who promoted them to black belt (ideally your instructor should be a black belt, but if you can’t find a black belt near you then other colored belts can teach beginners a lot too), as well as who promoted them, all the way back to the roots of the sport.
Competitive pedigree is important too. While some gyms are purely focused on self-defense, most gyms will have some competitors. Even if you don’t want to compete yourself, knowing that some people at the gym do, and do well, is a good form of reassurance.
BJJ is a rewarding activity, both physically and mentally. If you remember to leave your ego at the door, and take your shoes off before you step on the mats, you will be ahead of most.