What to bring to your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Want to try BJJ but not sure what to bring to your first class? This quick guide will help you be more prepared and ensure you have everything you will need, or may want, to feel more comfortable.
Bring yourself.. but clean! It SHOULD go without saying.. but unfortunately a common issue instructors are occasionally forced to address with students is hygiene. Please, PLEASE! Make sure you have showered the day of class, brush your teeth, cut your finger/toe nails, and wear deodorant. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a full contact sport and you don't want to be the stinky training partner, or have nails so long that you're worried about scratching your training partners.
Bring tight fitting athletic clothing. Cotton t-shirts will stretch and sag as you workout and get sweaty. Loose clothing can be a safety hazard in BJJ as your partners fingers and toes can get tangled and potentially broken. Shorts or leggings can be worn, but avoid shorts with pockets, zippers, or Velcro as these can all potentially cause injury to your training partners.
If you are a heavy sweater, have a long drive home, or plan on showering at the academy, bringing a fresh change of clothes for after class can help. Sitting in your wet stinky clothes on a long car ride is not only gross, but can increase the chances of getting STAPH and ringworm.
Food and Drink
Eating during class isn't recommended, but if exercising on an empty stomach can make you feel light headed, eating a piece of fruit or a granola bar 30-60 minutes before class can help. Bringing a power bar or protein shake for after class can help speed up recovery as well!
Bring a water bottle. You are going to sweat a LOT and will need to replace those fluids. Drinking water throughout the day is best, but you'll also want some available for immediate thirst quenching relief. Personally, I don't like to drink sugary sports drinks or anything besides strait up H2O during an intense workout, but lighter sports drinks or coconut water can be a great alternative.
Most gyms don't require you to wear personal safety gear, but there are a few items that can help keep you safer on the mats and prevent injury or discomfort while training. The most common safety equipment pieces for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are cups, mouth guards, and wrestling style headgear.
For cups (groin protectors), make sure to choose a plastic or rubber option as metal Muay Thai style cups can injure your training partners. Just as important as the cup is the jock strap, or fabric sling used to hold the cup. If the jockstrap is too loose, the cup can shift during sparring and cause more damage than if you hadn't been wearing one in the first place!
Mouth guards vary greatly in style and protection. For BJJ, something lighter is generally better as the majority of blows to the mouth are glancing and accidental. Having a large mouth guard can restrict breathing and slow you down. If you have the money to invest, many dentists offer custom mouth guards molded exactly to your teeth, and there are many companies that will ship you a similar mold to do from your home.
Wrestling style headgear is completely optional, however can be useful in preventing the very uncomfortable and unaesthetically pleasing condition known as cauliflower ear, where the cartilage of the ears is broken, swollen, and hardens over time. When selecting headgear, choose one that will stay in place, doesn't have exposed Velcro that could scratch you or a training partner, and has padding over the plastic protective cups.
All you really need after class is a towel if you intend to shower at the gym, or want to protect your car seats from your sweat. If you are using a gym bag, its a great idea to bring a separate mesh or plastic bag to hold your sweaty equipment in when you're done training. Putting used equipment into your gym bag can not only cause your bag to start getting STINKY, but can also cultivate nasty bacteria and lead to infections.
There you go! You now have all the equipment you could possibly need to start taking BJJ classes.. all that is left to do is stop making excuses and get to the gym!