Taking the first step in training is hard. It’s arguably the hardest step in the entire Jiu Jitsu journey. Sure, getting your black belt is going to be a challenge, heck, getting to blue belt will likely force you to overcome challenges and find mental toughness you didn’t know you had or were capable of, but taking the first step into the academy is the hardest because of the unknown. Not knowing what you are getting yourself into, maybe not knowing anyone at the academy, what to wear, how to tie your belt, all of the things that can cause anxiety. But here is the good news. It is worth it… SO WORTH IT.
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When I made the decision to start training my instructor, and now good friend told me “training Jiu Jitsu will change your life”. Now that is a bold statement. Change my life I thought. Ok, if you say so guy. Wouldn’t you know, as I look back, he was right, I barely recognize the person I was when I stepped on those mats almost 6 years ago. Jiu Jitsu isn’t just going to change you physically, it will change the way you approach life, the way you handle problems at work, in your relationship, everything, it is truly a life changing martial art, if you let it. The reality is Jiu Jitsu forces you to develop a certain mental toughness in order to get through training on some days. Well, that carries over into your workday, when you have to just grind through that report, or whatever it may be and just get it done, Jiu Jitsu is helping build the mindset that allows you to do these things.
Here to take some of the guess work out of how to get started is Professor Bernardo Faria, 5x World Champion. Professor Faria quickly breaks down his “5 Tips To Your First Jiu Jitsu Class”.
- Join an academy that has beginner classes. Beginner classes are classes that typically focus on the fundamental movements of Jiu Jitsu and are tailored towards beginners in Jiu Jitsu therefore sometimes more accommodating to students who don’t have the flexibility, or knowledge yet to string together complex techniques.
- Try out the intro class – if the school offers it. An intro class will typically be a 20-30 minute class that is separate from the regular class and a much smaller group, possibly even like a private lesson. These are designed to give you a basic introduction into what Jiu Jitsu is and what you can expect to learn over the course of your training.
- Find out if you need a Gi. The Gi is going to be required at most traditional Jiu Jitsu schools, but you need to know if it is provided as part of the sign up fee, of it you need to get it on your own. If you need to get it on your own, you want to make sure you ask for details around what is acceptable and what is not. Some academies will only allow white Gi’s to be worn by students, where as instructors may wear black or blue. Still others may be more relaxed and allow any color Gi. There may be preference on patches or brand or a plethora of other things. Do yourself a favor and ask the questions before you order a Gi.
- Try to not get nervous “the beginners are the most important part of a Jiu Jitsu school” – easier said than done right? I know, it’s hard, here’s the thing though. You are not only welcomed at the academy you are trying out, we truly want you there. The Jiu Jitsu community is unlike anything I have ever seen, as you will soon find out. It’s not a macho egotistical place, it’s more like a family. Trust that we are happy to share the mats with you, and know that none of us started out knowing it all. When in doubt, find someone you know, or if you don’t know anyone, find anyone at all that looks to be approachable (I’ll be shocked if someone doesn’t approach you first) and strike up a conversation. We are all on different journey’s and just sharing the mats along the way.
- Be patient – you’re not going to learn it all in one day, or one week, it takes time. Jiu Jitsu is not a martial art that you can learn quickly, it takes time, commitment, and patience to excel in Jiu Jitsu. It’s hard to be patient. I remember several times looking back at the previous week or even month wondering if I had progressed at all. While progress may not be evident on a daily basis, it’s there, it’s happening, trust the process. If you start feeling like you aren’t progressing, or aren’t enjoying it, talk to your instructor and see what advice they have for you. Chance are they will remind you what you were like when you started, and give you examples of much you really have changed, while it may be hard for you to see, others see it because they don’t live with you all day every day. The progress you are making isn’t always going to show in your technique, or who you tap, or who taps you. Sometimes it will show when you least expect it, like someone starts an argument with you in the store and you just walk away, maybe that wouldn’t normally have been your reaction, but because you train now, you have the confidence of knowing exactly how that situation would end, and because of this confidence level, you no longer have the need to appear tough to others, because you know exactly how tough you are, you show up and train and test it daily.
A few closing thoughts from Professor Faria.
There is no age limit on when you start training, Jiu Jistu is for everyone.
Don’t try to learn everything in one day – it takes time.
Enjoy the journey and your new Jiu Jitsu family.
It’s time, you have done the research, you have read the articles. Pick up the phone, call the academy and setup your intro class, it’s time to join the family!
See you on the mats!
In addition to these tips from one of the biggest names in Jiu Jitsu, I would encourage you to explore Tom DeBlass’ newest video instructional titled “The Road to Black Belt, and Beyond”. This video and audio instructional will prepare you for the road ahead, and for the first time ever, give practitioners a road map to success in Jiu Jitsu, in work, in family… in life.