Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu


Jiu Jitsu

What You Can Expect at Your First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class

What You Can Expect at Your First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class

By Jake MacKenzie | February 27, 2023

what is a bjj class like

Are you curious about trying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) but feeling a bit nervous about your first class? It’s understandable to feel a bit intimidated by martial arts, especially one as comprehensive as BJJ. However, don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it may seem.

In this blog, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know before stepping onto the mat for your first BJJ class at Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu. From proper bowing etiquette to warm-up exercises and practice sessions, we’ll guide you through what to expect and offer tips to help you feel more confident and prepared for this exciting new experience.

What to Bring to Your First Class

At Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu, we believe in keeping things simple and accessible for everyone. When it comes to what you need to bring to class, all you really need is a sports outfit that allows for comfortable movement, and some water to stay hydrated. If you happen to have a gi, our traditional uniform, we encourage you to bring it along, but it’s not mandatory. The same applies if you have a rash guard, which can be worn to protect your skin during the class. Our goal is to make Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as accessible as possible for anyone who wants to try it, without the burden of having to invest in a lot of equipment upfront.

What to Expect During Your First Class

1. Bowing In

A typical BJJ class starts with bowing in. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, bowing in is a tradition that serves as a sign of respect for your instructors, training partners, and the art itself. By bowing onto the mat, you are acknowledging the environment as a place of learning and growth, and showing gratitude for the opportunity to train. It also sets a positive tone for the class, promoting a sense of community and humility. So, even if you’re new to the practice, don’t be intimidated by this tradition – embrace it as a way to start your journey with respect and open-mindedness.

To perform the bow-in ritual, position yourself in front of the mat with your feet together and your hands resting at your sides. Then, lower your head and upper body, and direct your gaze towards the mat. It is customary to say “OSS,” which is derived from the Japanese phrase “Onegai Shimasu” and is used as a greeting to begin a game – However, this is not mandatory but rather optional. To complete the ritual, raise your head and upper body back up to the starting position. If you are unsure about how to bow in or need assistance, our instructors will gladly provide guidance and answer any questions during your initial class.

2. Warming up

Before starting a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, it’s important to properly warm up your body. The warm-up usually involves neck rotations, hip movements, arm swings, and joint rotations to prevent injury and increase flexibility. Usually, students form a circle with their group, arranged based on their belt level.

As you follow the warm-up routine, remember to listen to your body and not push too hard too fast. If you have any concerns or injuries, make sure to let your instructor know before the warm-up begins. A good warm-up prepares your body for the class and sets you up for a productive and safe training session.

At Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu, we understand that each person has unique requirements for warm-ups. Therefore, we encourage you to come early and do extra warm-up exercises and stretches as needed.

3. Instructions & Demonstrations

Next, the instructors will provide you with some guidance and introduce the class curriculum to you. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the different moves and techniques BJJ has to offer. The most common forms of instruction are single technique and technique chains.

Single technique instruction is when the instructor teaches one technique at a time, which is great for beginners. Technique chains, on the other hand, are more suitable for experienced students who can perform chains of techniques. During technique chains, the instructors will teach you how to handle many situations simultaneously, branching off into multiple different chains.

At this point in the class, the instructors might also introduce the move of the day and assign you a training partner from the group. While practicing with diverse belt levels and body types can improve your skills quickly, we’d be happy to pair you up with a friend, a same-gender student, or someone with a similar body type to ensure you feel comfortable.

4. Water Breaks & Questions

We understand the importance of staying hydrated and answering any questions you may have during class. We leave room for water breaks throughout the session to ensure you stay properly hydrated and can perform at your best. Additionally, our instructors encourage questions and provide opportunities for you to ask them during the class. Whether it’s about a specific technique or a general question about BJJ, we want to ensure you have a clear understanding and are able to progress in your practice.

5. Practicing

Mastering a new technique requires patience and practice. That’s why we leave a significant portion of the class for slow-paced training sessions of a particular move. You’ll be introduced to basic positions such as side control, mount, and guard, and learn how to execute movements like escapes, sweeps, and submissions.

This allows our students to focus on the details of the technique and perfect their form. Our experienced instructors are always available to answer any questions or provide guidance during this time. With consistent practice and guidance, our students can quickly progress in their journey towards mastering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

6. End of Class

At the end of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, students typically perform the bow-out ritual, which is the opposite of the bow-in ritual at the beginning of the class. This is another tradition that shows respect for the practice and instructors. Once the bow-out is complete, students change out of their gis, put on their shoes, and pack up their gym bags to get ready for departure.

During the class, students may have learned a variety of techniques, from basic to advanced, depending on their belt rank and the curriculum of the class. The instructor may have demonstrated specific moves or positions, and students may have had the opportunity to practice these techniques with a partner during sparring sessions or positional sparring.

Overall, the end of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class should be a time to reflect on the hard work and progress made during the session. Whether it’s the first day of BJJ or an advanced class after many months of training, there is always something to learn and improve upon in this gentle art. With a good instructor and a fundamental understanding of the basic techniques and fundamental positions, BJJ training can be a great way to stay fit, learn self defense, and have much fun. And for those who stick with it for a long time, there’s the good news of eventually advancing to higher belts such as brown belt and beyond.

What to Expect After a Few Months of BJJ

Sparring Sessions

After attending a sufficient number of BJJ classes and gaining confidence in your skills, you will be invited to participate in a sparring session with a partner at Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu. It is important to note that this is not a requirement for your first class, and you can take your time to prepare yourself.

During a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparring session, two students of similar skill and size are paired together on the mat. The objective is to apply the techniques they have learned in a live situation, with one student trying to submit the other through grappling and ground fighting.

The students start in a standing position, and the match begins with a handshake or fist bump. They then engage in a grappling exchange where they try to take each other down to the mat, control each other’s bodies, and ultimately submit their opponent with a submission technique. The sparring session is typically timed and monitored by the instructor to ensure safety and prevent injury. Students are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and continue to refine their technique during each sparring session. It is a challenging and exciting way to practice the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and develop real-world self defense skills.

Conclusion: Join Us for Your First Class

Trying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. At Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu, we are committed to making BJJ accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level or experience. We provide a welcoming and supportive environment where you can learn and grow at your own pace.

During your first class, you can expect to be introduced to the basics of BJJ, including bowing etiquette, warm-up exercises, and practice sessions. Our instructors will guide you through every step of the process, answering any questions you may have and ensuring that you feel comfortable and confident throughout the class.

We believe in keeping things simple and accessible for everyone, so all you need to bring to class is a sports outfit that allows for comfortable movement and some water to stay hydrated. If you happen to have a gi, our traditional uniform, or a rash guard we encourage you to bring it along, but it’s not mandatory.

We invite you to take advantage of our one-week free trial to experience Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for yourself. You’ll be introduced to a supportive community of instructors and fellow students who are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. We’re confident that you’ll love BJJ as much as we do, and we look forward to seeing you on the mat!

About Jake MacKenzie School of Jiu Jitsu

Our school offers an authentic and world-class training experience in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With Jake MacKenzie and Melissa Britez Costa as your instructors, you’ll get the chance to learn from some of the world’s best in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner, our friendly and positive learning environment is designed to help you reach your maximum potential. We strive to keep classes fun and dynamic while matching you with the same skill-level partners to improve your game. So, come and experience our open and positive learning environment where you can advance your skill level no matter your background or experience.

Jake MacKenzie

Jake MacKenzie

Head instructor, Jake Mackenzie, is a third-degree black belt under Julio Cesar Pereira. He trained in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 25 years, 10 of those years he lived, trained and competed in the mecca of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Rio de Janeiro.

Jake has competed all over the world and won over 100 gold medals in Brazil alone. Along with his extensive competition career, he was also one of the longtime assistant coaches at the GFTeam headquarters in Rio and has worked coaching and training multiple world champions.

He is the most accomplished Canadian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor ever in the Gi, and has won more tournaments in Brazil than any other foreigner in the history of the sport. He is the only Canadian to ever make the World Professional Championship finals at the adult black belt level.