guide to starting bjj

A guide to your first BJJ class

Advice for getting started in BJJ as a woman isn’t really any different than it would be for a man. However, that being said, to help you get over the nerves of stepping into a class and onto the mats for the first time here is some guidance on the basic rules and etiquette for training in Brazilian Jiujitsu. Equipped with this knowledge you will be able to navigate the first few weeks confidently and without any embarrassing slip ups.

Rule no 1 – no shoes on the mat.

You’ll notice I haven’t even mentioned what not to wear or anything else. That’s because if you remember one thing during your whole time training BJJ it should be do not wear shoes on the mat and always wear shoes when off the mat. If it touches the dirty floor it does not touch the mat. This is because your face will be buried in that mat at some point and you don’t want all that dirty floor bacteria as a face mask.

Ok kit and what to wear

Leggings, a t-shirt and flip flops will suffice to start. Most gyms can lend you a gi until you buy your own. You need clothes that you can roll around in and no bum or boobs will fall out of, it’s best that your kit fits under a gi too. It’s that simple.

BJJ Grades and belt colours

Most clubs will line up in grade order at the beginning and end if each class and you need to know where to stand. Brazilian Jiujitsu grade is indicated by belt colour and stripes on that belt. As a newbie you’re at the bottom of the end of that line (for now). It starts at white, blue, purple, brown and then black.


When it comes to sparring many instructors will pair new white belts up with a suitable partner. Sometimes they do this for coloured belts too or they will be left to chose their own sparring partners.

Once you have been there a while it may be that your club lets you pick your partner. If not, then when it comes to sparring keep in mind some more traditional clubs feel lower grades can not ‘call out’ or ask a higher belt to spar. Basically don’t call out the hard looking Brown belt on your first class and generally respect the vibe of the club.

Also when sparring if there is little room or two groups end up near each other almost knocking heads the lower grade should move out the way.

Avoiding injury for yourself and others

It should be obvious but when sparring take it easy until you get used to it and remember – no slapping, kicking, punching or striking of any kind.

In BJJ we tap our partners, with our hand on their body, when something hurts is uncomfortable or dangerous.

Most importantly

Remember everyone was new at some point and once stood where you are. Have fun and just ask someone if you have any questions.