Starting Brazilian jiu jitsu as a woman can be both exhilarating and a little scary. When beginning your BJJ journey (or any martial art for that matter) it’s totally normal to have questions.
You might be wondering:
- What should I expect from my first class?
- Is jiu jitsu for everyone?
- What should I know about starting jiu jitsu as a woman?
Most women who dive into the world of jiu jitsu find themselves a better, stronger, and more self-actualized version of themselves for it.
You’re taking an incredible step in empowering yourself and becoming a better you when you head out to that first class. And once you get rolling, you’ll find out just how fierce you can be.
How to Prepare for Your First Jiu Jitsu Class
So, you’re excitedly planning for your first BJJ class. What should you expect? How should you prepare?
Here are a couple of hygiene pointers and mat etiquette tips if you’ve never stepped into a jiu jitsu class before:
- Keep your shoes off on the mat. This is key to prevent the spread of bacteria. Many practitioners keep a pair of flip-flops so they can easily get on and off the mat.
- Ditch the makeup for now. I know – it can be kind of weird leaving the house without makeup if you’re not used to this. But this way, you won’t get any makeup on your training partners’ gear or have to worry about it running down your face mid-roll.
- Wear clean jiu-jitsu apparel or a clean gi and keep your hair tied back. If you don’t have a gi (or no-gi gear) for your first session, don’t stress. For now, stick to workout apparel like a microfiber t-shirt and leggings. You don’t want to wear anything that will get heavy and bogged down with sweat, so avoid cotton and other non-performance fabrics as much as possible.
- Practice good overall hygiene before class. Make sure your teeth are brushed, your toes and fingernails are clipped, and your body and feet clean. Hygiene is paramount in a sport like jiu jitsu where skin infections like ring worm and athletes foot crop up. Showing up to class clean not only ensures that you’re comfortable, but also shows respect to your training partners.
What Should I Expect During My First BJJ Class?
When you get on the mat for the first time, you’re bound to feel some hesitation (and that’s completely natural!)
With that in mind, here’s a general format of what a jiu jitsu class looks like so you can ease some of that first-day anticipation.
- Warm-ups – to get your heartrate up before you dive into the technique for the day.
- Technique instructions
- Technique practice with a partner (Drilling)
- Rolling/Sparring – this gives you some extra practice beyond just drilling the techniques you learned earlier.
- Cool down – to help your body wind down after all the hard work.
One last tip for your first class: if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask an instructor for extra guidance (after all, they’re there to help!)
What About Rolling with Men?
As a woman, practicing BJJ with men can be strange, especially if this is unfamiliar territory for you. Jiu jitsu is a high contact sport, and this means you’ll find yourself in some new and possibly awkward-feeling entanglements with your training partners.
That said, try not to worry! Although you may find yourself in some peculiar positions, it’s in the nature of the sport.
Jiu jitsu practitioners are often the most respectful and kind people out there. But as always, trust your intuition if you feel someone is being inappropriate with you on the mat. And never be afraid to speak up if you feel that someone crosses your boundaries.
Will I Get Hurt Training BJJ with Men?
Because there are often size and strength difference between males and females, it’s important to choose your partners wisely.
Newer male practitioners may lack understanding when training with female partners, so more experienced partners are a better choice if you’re new. (And you don’t have to say yes to every person who wants to train with you.)
One thing you can do while training BJJ with men is to pick a partner with a colored belt and/or try to pick someone closer to your size. Colored belts mean the person has more experience and understanding with jiu jitsu, so they’ll be more mindful while practicing with you.
What Should I Do After My Jiu Jitsu Class?
So, you’re finished up with your first session. What should you do now?
Once you’re done with your class, it’s time for hygiene! Make sure to shower all the sweat off and throw your workout gear (whether it’s your gi and belt or other apparel) into the wash to keep everything clean.
Beyond hygiene, make sure to eat a well-rounded meal and sleep well that night – you’ve earned it.
Maybe you’ve learned a technique that you want to research more about after class. This would be a great time to dig deeper and do some studying on techniques you practiced that day.
The Takeaway on Starting Jiu Jitsu as a Woman
Starting jiu jitsu as a woman can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Women are underrepresented in martial arts. And when you have the courage to begin learning BJJ, you could be changing the future for other women who want to embark on this journey with you.
Are you a woman who’s been practicing jiu jitsu or just gotten started? Leave a comment below to share your experience – you never know who you’ll inspire!