beginner BJJ

Beginner BJJ information website logo

Frequently asked questions about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. It is derived from Kodokan judo ground fighting (newaza) fundamentals and was developed by the Gracie family from Brazil. BJJ promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique, especially by applying joint locks and chokeholds to defeat them.

What should I expect in my first BJJ class?

In your first BJJ class, expect a warm, welcoming environment. BJJ training typically begins with a warm-up consisting of stretching and cardio exercises. Following this, the instructor will teach techniques, including takedowns, submissions, or positional strategies. Finally, the class usually ends with ‘rolling’ or sparring sessions, where students practice what they’ve learned against each other in a controlled environment. Remember, everyone was once a beginner, so don’t worry about making mistakes. Your first class is about learning and getting a feel for the sport.

What equipment do I need to start BJJ?

To start BJJ, you need a Gi, the traditional uniform used in the sport, consisting of a jacket, pants, and a belt that indicates your rank. In addition, a mouth guard and groin protection are also recommended for your safety. If you train No-Gi, you’ll need a rash guard and shorts instead of a Gi. Lastly, always bring a water bottle to stay hydrated during training sessions.

How often should I train as a beginner?

As a beginner in BJJ, training two to three times per week is recommended. This frequency allows you to practice and improve your techniques while giving your body adequate time to rest and recover. You can gradually increase the frequency as you get more comfortable and your body adapts to the training.

How do I tie my BJJ belt?

Tying your BJJ belt might initially seem tricky, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Here are the steps:

  1. Start by finding your belt’s middle and holding it against your belly button.
  2. Wrap both ends around your waist, crossing them over at your back. Bring them back to the front.
  3. Overlap the left end over the right, then bring it up and through the space between the belt and your Gi. You should now have two ends of equal length at the front.
  4. Now, take the left end (originally the right) and overlap it over the other end, then push it up and through the loop you just created. Pull both ends to tighten.
  5. Adjust as necessary, and make sure your belt’s ends are equal.

Training & technique

What are the basic positions in BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes ground fighting, with several fundamental positions to control an opponent. These include the guard, where you control an opponent while on your back, using your legs. The half guard is a variation of this, with control over one of your opponent’s legs. Other positions include:

  • The mount (sitting atop the opponent’s chest).
  • Side control (laying perpendicularly across the opponent’s chest).
  • Back mount (having your chest to the opponent’s back).

Each position provides different options for submissions and transitions.

What are the key philosophies behind BJJ?

BJJ is built on the philosophy that smaller, weaker individuals can successfully defend against stronger, larger opponents through leverage and technique. BJJ also encourages continuous learning and self-improvement, both physically and mentally. It underscores respect, discipline, patience, and resilience. It’s not just about winning a fight; it’s about personal growth, problem-solving, and strategic thinking.

What are the basic rules of BJJ?

BJJ rules can vary slightly by tournament, but universally, matches can be won by submission, points, or referee’s decision. Submissions involve applying a technique that forces an opponent to tap out. However, some techniques are prohibited at certain belt levels to ensure safety. Striking is prohibited in traditional BJJ. Also, specific behaviour, like foul language or aggressive acts, can lead to disqualification.

How does the point system work in BJJ?

In BJJ, points are awarded for achieving certain positions or executing specific manoeuvres. For example, a takedown or sweep that lands you in the top position generally earns two points. Passing the opponent’s guard to establish side control usually scores three points. Mount and back control earn four points due to their dominant nature. However, remember that the point system can vary between tournaments.

What is the guard in BJJ, and why is it important?

The guard in BJJ is a foundational position where a practitioner is on their back, controlling an opponent with their legs. It is a unique feature of BJJ and is extremely important for offence and defence. You can attack with various submissions from the guard and prevent an opponent from attacking effectively. Mastering the guard and its various forms, such as the closed, open, and half guard, is crucial for success in BJJ.


What is a Gi, and why is it important in BJJ?

A Gi, often called a “Kimono,” is the traditional uniform worn during BJJ training and competitions. It consists of a heavy cotton jacket, pants, and a belt that signifies your rank. The Gi is important because many techniques in BJJ involve gripping the Gi fabric to control an opponent, set up submissions, or create sweeps. Moreover, it provides a sense of tradition and respect for martial art.

What is a rash guard, and should I wear one?

A rash guard is an athletic shirt made of spandex, nylon, or polyester that fits tightly to the body. In BJJ, rash guards are worn during No-Gi training and under the Gi to prevent skin infections, reduce friction burns, and wick away sweat. Wearing a rash guard during BJJ training is advisable as it provides a layer of protection and enhances your comfort while training.

What are the benefits of using a mouthguard?

A mouth guard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums. Using a mouth guard in BJJ can prevent dental injuries during rolling or sparring. It can guard against chipped or broken teeth, cuts to lips and tongue, and even reduce the chance of concussion. While BJJ is not a striking art, accidental knocks to the mouth can happen, making a mouth guard a wise piece of protective gear.

Can I wear any shorts for No-Gi training?

For No-Gi training, wearing shorts explicitly designed for grappling or mixed martial arts (MMA) is best. These shorts typically lack pockets (which can accidentally injure fingers) and have a more extended cut to protect your skin on the mat. They also often feature a drawstring and velcro closure for a secure fit. While technically, you could wear any shorts. Proper grappling shorts offer the best mix of comfort, safety, and functionality.

What gear should I bring to my first BJJ class?

For your first BJJ class, if you already have a Gi, bring that. Otherwise, wear comfortable workout clothing. Consider bringing a rash guard underneath the Gi or by itself for No-Gi training. Bring a pair of flip-flops or sandals to wear when you’re not on the mat to maintain hygiene. A water bottle for hydration and a towel to wipe off sweat is also recommended. If you decide to continue with BJJ, investing in a mouth guard, grappling shorts (for No-Gi), and eventually, your own Gi will be essential.

Health & safety

How can I prevent injuries in BJJ?

Preventing injuries in BJJ involves a multifaceted approach. Start with a proper warm-up to prepare your body for intense movements and cool down after your session to aid recovery. Regularly practising BJJ drills can also improve your body mechanics, reducing the risk of injuries. Listening to your body and knowing when to rest is equally crucial, as most injuries occur when you’re fatigued. Lastly, tap early and often during training – there’s no shame in tapping out when a submission hold is applied. It’s part of the learning process.

What should I do if I get injured during training?

If you get injured during BJJ training, immediately stop and inform your instructor. Apply the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for minor injuries. For serious injuries, seek immediate medical attention. Always follow professional medical advice regarding rest and recovery before returning to training.

How can I safely lose weight for a BJJ competition?

Safely losing weight for a BJJ competition involves a combination of healthy eating and regular training. Start by gradually reducing calorie intake while maintaining a balanced diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Hydrate properly and avoid severe diet restrictions or weight-cutting techniques that could harm your performance and health. Regular cardiovascular exercises, BJJ drills, and training can help achieve weight loss goals.

What is the best way to improve my cardio for BJJ?

To improve your cardio for BJJ, include a mix of endurance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in your workout routine. Running, swimming, cycling, and rowing are great for building endurance. HIIT workouts mimic the intensity of a BJJ match and can significantly improve your cardiovascular fitness. Remember, consistently training BJJ itself is one of the best ways to improve your cardio specific to the sport.

How can I stay motivated in my BJJ journey?

Staying motivated in your BJJ journey requires setting clear, achievable goals and focusing on personal growth rather than comparison with others. Celebrate small victories, whether mastering a new technique or lasting a bit longer during a roll. Surround yourself with positive training partners and instructors who foster a good learning environment. Remember, BJJ is a lifelong journey, not a race. Patience, persistence, and enjoying the process are crucial to maintaining your motivation.


How do I prepare for my first BJJ competition?

Preparing for your first BJJ competition involves both physical and mental preparation. Physically, increase your training intensity, focus on honing your best techniques, and incorporate cardio and strength conditioning into your routine. Ensure you know the competition rules, weight classes, and the points system. Mentally, work on managing anxiety through mindfulness, visualisation, and positive self-talk. A mock competition can also be beneficial for familiarising yourself with the competition environment.

What are the different types of BJJ competitions?

There are several BJJ competitions, each with unique rules and formats. Some popular ones include Gi and No-Gi tournaments, Submission Only events, and Superfights. Prominent competition organisations include:

  • The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
  • The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC).
  • The Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI).
What is the difference between Gi and No-Gi competitions?

The main difference between Gi and No-Gi competitions lies in the attire and the associated techniques. In Gi competitions, competitors wear a traditional Gi and grip on the jacket and pants are integral to the techniques used. On the other hand, No-Gi competitions involve competitors wearing shorts and a rash guard, and techniques involve more under hooks, over hooks, and leg entanglements, with no fabric grips allowed.

How do I find BJJ competitions or events near me?

Finding BJJ competitions or events near you can be done by regularly checking BJJ competition organisations’ websites or social media pages. Joining BJJ online communities and forums can also provide information on local and regional events. Your BJJ coach or fellow practitioners may also have information on upcoming events.

How can I improve my performance in BJJ competitions?

Improving performance in BJJ competitions comes with experience, consistent training, and mindful reflection. Analyse your past matches to identify areas for improvement. Focusing on your strengths and developing a game plan can be beneficial. Regular sparring sessions with various training partners can help simulate competition scenarios. Finally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, sleep, and mental health practices can significantly boost performance.

We hope this FAQ page has answered your questions about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you have more queries or need further clarification, please get in touch with us or join our BJJ community forum. Enjoy your BJJ journey!