The Ultimate BJJ Beginner Guide

You ready to hit the mats? We’re so excited for you. This next venture is going to be the journey of all journeys. It’s time to surrender any negativity or ego before stepping onto the mat. There’s a lot of heart, soul, and learning that is about to go down. Here’s the ultimate beginner’s guide to BJJ.


Where it all Began 

Literally, jū in Japanese means ‘gentleness,’ and jutsu means ‘art,’ ‘technique.’ Jiu-Jitsu is also known for being the “gentle art”. The story of BJJ begins in Japan as it was developed for use on the battlefield by Japanese samurai. In time, the goal of Jiu-Jitsu shifted from combat to general self-defense. A student of Jiu-Jitsu traveled to Brazil set the motion of chain events that lead to the creation of the world’s most effective grappling art. 


What is the ranking system?

BJJ uses a belt system to symbolize knowledge, progress, honor, tradition, honestly, a practical way of holding up a gi. It requires significant discipline, hard work, and time to achieve reaching the next belt rank.  There are eight belt levels for adults in BJJ:






-Red (very few reach this)

There are usually four “degrees” or stripes from each belt that symbolize progress towards the next belt. Progression is determined by a qualified instructor to evaluate based on skill, time, and age. 


Finding an Instructor

Finding the right school, instructor and class is everything when it comes to beginning your BJJ journey. Research is essential. Make sure to get a good feel for how the school operates, the vibe, and properly align your BJJ goals with the classes, instructors, and other people that will be training. Learn more about the instructors by asking questions and looking into their career - it’s okay, we promise that this is totally acceptable. This could range anywhere from where they trained, the amount of competitions they participated in, and BJJ training philosophies. Instincts are powerful, remember that. Go with your gut. 


What you Need to Know for Your First Class

It can feel like going on a date. It’s time to figure out what to wear to your first class, You usually don’t need to own a BJJ gi or wear a gi for your first class. T-shirt and board shorts will do just fine. Many people also wear a rash guard. Do NOT wear anything with pockets, belt loops or baggy fabrics. You don’t want to be that person that gets someone’s toe stuck in a belt loop. Make sure that nails are trimmed and hair away from the face. 


Before class: introduce yourself to the instructor and begin stretching on the mats. You want to make sure you’re warmed up to prevent injury. The instructor will probably begin class with specific warm ups that may be new at first. Don’t worry if these take some time to catch onto. The instructor will help you get your form right. BJJ class is not the time to slack on your hydration game. You’re going to be moving your body in a lot of new ways and your muscles will need to be hydrated in order to properly recover. In BJJ, “rolling” is a term used to for students to test their skills and abilities against their teammates. It helps identify opportunities for improvement, build confidence, and encourage continuous practice. All schools are different but it is a good rule of thumb that rolling will start after a couple months of beginners classes. It can take a few months to begin piecing together fundamental BJJ concepts. 


Key Moves for Beginners

You’ll hear anyone who practices BJJ about “the basics” a lot - always making it known that you need to have a good foundation or good basics. This will challenge you to relax while training and simply focus. It doesn’t hurt to do extra research outside of class on these moves, either. 


Shrimping and bridging are considered to be crucial to grappling and incredibly important to sewing moves together. It helps to coordinate feet, hips and shoulders to move the body backwards. It begins with lying flat on your back with feet out straight and hands up. Roll slightly onto one side and bring both feet close to your butt. Focus on lifting hips off the ground and moving hips back towards your head. 


Scissor Sweep 

This sweep combines lots of different guard techniques in combination with attacks. For many people, it is a technique to use in early sparring days. It is a great way to break an opponent's balance, move hips to create an angle, proper grip tactic for control, and using power of the legs rather than your upper body. 


Passing the Guard

The main objective of passing the guard is to side-step around the opponent's leg while simultaneously pulling aside the opponent’s leg or pinning the legs to the ground. Developing a good guard passing game is extremely tricky and tiring. It is important to pay massive attention to posture, pressure and timing. 



Gripping is essential to BJJ training. There are different grips that allow you to properly grab limbs. You’ll often hear the term “hand fighting” thrown around in the grappling world. You probably won’t have the kind of iron grip that more advanced students have but start encouraging that grip early. If you grab onto the wrong limb or part of the gi, you won’t have enough leverage to control your opponent. 



It may sound colloquial or rather silly, but learning how to breathe properly is going to impact the trajectory of your BJJ journey. It is easier to have smooth movements and transitions if you can breathe smoothly while rolling. If breathing is suffering, movement and technique can risk becoming sloppy. It also helps you focus to remove self-doubt and other negative emotions before stepping on the mat. 


Ready to get started?

At The Boxing Club, we pride ourselves on bringing the best BJJ classes in San Diego. We have crafted full programming based on power / stamina, flexibility, grappling, and advancing our mental strength. Our classes are designed to give newer belts a place to learn and those who are already invested, a place to keep on the learning. Learn from the best with our award-winning coaches who are intentional with the instruction they bring on and off the mats. Seasoned student or new student eager to learn, try a class with the best

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