Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The Ultimate Guide to Beginning BJJ

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Have you been thinking of starting training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? That is a brilliant idea. Developing an interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best decisions you can make in your life.

Starting Brazilian Jiu-jitsu(BJJ) is easy. All you will need is to find an academy offering training, buys some training clothing, a mouthguard and you are ready to start. If you will be training for gi Jiu-Jitsu, you will need the traditional gi uniform, which is cotton pants and a coat. As for no-gi, wearing a uniform is not a requirement. 

Before starting on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you will be flooded with a myriad of thoughts and questions. Is it the best option? How does the training work? How often should I train? What happens in the training? Finding answers to these and other questions is important before you start your training. It is a confidence and motivation booster. In this article, we will be discussing all these issues and more. Read on for more details.

What is The Origin of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the many grappling martial arts whose origin was Japan, started in Brazil around 1920. It remained largely unknown until it shone into the limelight in UFC1 in 1993. It was during this event held in McNichols Sports Arena, in Denver Colorado, Royce Gracie for the first time showcased the unique techniques of the sport on a global arena. 

Royce Gracie demonstrated the possibility of overcoming a bigger opponent, by leveraging grappling tactics. Since that time, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has phenomenally spread worldwide with the number of academies offering training increasing by the day. A good example is Gracie University which offers excellent BJJ training programs.  

Why Choose BJJ?

You might be wondering, why choose BJJ and not other martial arts? Training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has plenty of benefits. If we were to enumerate all of them we could probably fill an entire book. 

To start with, when you train in BJJ you become confident in self-defense. You learn skills that can help you defend yourself. That means standing your ground in the face of the neighborhood bully, at school, or anywhere.

In addition, it makes you physically fit. A weak body weakens the mind and spirit. Training in BJJ not only builds your physique, your confidence, patience, discipline, but many other virtues as well. In other words, you become a wholesome person.

Another feature of BJJ is social aspects. Being surrounded by your sparring partners, your trainers, and the other trainees you are in great company. These are people you share common training interests and goals with. Becoming part of the community creates a conducive environment for building social skills.

Gear Requirements

In BJJ, training gear is a requirement. Depending on the type you’re training for, you will be expected to either be in GI or No GI clothes. If you train in Gi, you will require traditional Gi clothes. The Gi clothes are the traditional cotton pants and coat. For No-GI, you will need spats and shorts. 

These clothes have different costs. As you would expect, original Gi brands are more expensive. But remember the caveat is, ‘you get what you pay for’. The quality might not be great, but you can use them while you plan for better ones. Notably, investing in the right training clothes is a must if you aspire to grow in the sport. You will appear more professional and the quality of your training will improve.

Practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

After buying clothes and deciding on where to enroll, you might be wondering what the training looks like. Training procedures vary with different academies. But generally, you start with warm-ups. Jumping, forward and backward rolls, and hip escapes are some of the warm-up training activities. 

The session then moves to real practicing. Here, you will be paired with a training partner. Usually, the instructor demonstrates certain techniques which he will require you to repeat. Ideally, the instructor is available to make corrections and offer tips on how to improve the techniques. 

Depending on the level of progress, the instructor may show a continuation of the technique or a different one. Occasionally, you will be sparring. Also known as rolling, sparring involves grappling with your teammate. You will be studying your opponents’ moves and finding ways of countering them. Over time your skills will improve if you practice regular rolling.

Positions and Techniques

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on four main goals. Mastering them requires a substantial level of training and practice.

  • Taking the opponent down
  • Sweep or pass the opponent guard
  • Dominating the opponent
  • Submission of the opponent

Accomplishing those goals requires you to master several positions. The positions are full guard, side control, mount, and back control. Skills in these positions are essential to overcome your opponent. Another important technique includes grips. Without firm grips, you cannot control, maintain your position, and execute your techniques. They are the core connectors of the other techniques. From executing sweeps, escapes, to passes, you will be required to hold your opponent. 

How Often Should I Train BJJ?   

Training regularly will make you a better athlete. And that is a requirement in learning any skill. It is the best way to solidify knowledge in your current techniques and learn new ones faster. However, expect your rate of learning to be slow at first. After all, this is not a road you have traveled before. Plus, in the first few sessions, you will experience fatigues and muscle aches. 

This is the point at which most people despair. Do not be those people. Because good results only come to those who persevere. Keep showing up regularly in training, but avoid excessive training too. By straining in training, you will risk burnout, which is the surest way of killing your morale. The key is to listen to your body, and only take in sessions that your muscles can accommodate. Also, avoid too few training sessions that will not make any impact on your training. 

For best results, we recommend practicing two to three days a week. That is the optimum level required to have a meaningful effect on your skills. Remember, consistency is better than a once in a long time burst of effort.

Belt Rankings

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, belts are not merely part of the training uniform. They are a significant indicator of your level of experience and skills attainment. Their colors range from white to black, with white indicating the lowest level of skills attainment, and black the highest. Other colors between the white and black ranging in increasing seniority are blue, purple, and brown. 

As a beginner, you are at white belt level. As you progress in your training, you can scale up the skills ladder to blue, purple, brown, and finally black belt. Also note, even belts of the same color may not be of the same skill’s rank. They have markings that indicate different levels of ranking. 

Here are more details about each belt level.

White belt

This is the beginner stage. At this stage, you are dipping your toes into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sport. Most of the time your actions will depend on guidance from your trainers. Progressing from this stage will take you some time. White belt is a frustrating stage and most trainees start doubting their decision to join the training. However, keep in mind this is also the humble beginning of any accomplished BJJ athlete. They became great by showing up and putting in continuous training in the sport.

Blue belt

Having gathered some experience, you now have a bit of confidence in executing your techniques on the mat. Your attacking and defending skills are better now, and you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. If you keep the momentum and look for more guidance from your seniors and trainers you can shoot to the next belt level.

Purple Belt

Your game has improved significantly. With agility, you can perform complex maneuvers, gauge your opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them. Your level of mastery of the sport gives you confidence. You no longer need daily guidance.

Brown Belt

At this level, you are only one step away from the final stage; black belt. You are a competent fighter with smooth moves. Subduing most opponents on the mat comes easily to you. However, overconfidence is the growth killer of most brown belts. The “know it all” attitude will stifle your progression to the black belt level.

Black Belt

It is the dream of every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete to earn a black belt. But to reach this stage is tough but attainable. Whether you are defending or attacking, all your moves at this point are instinctive. You are an authority to your peers and a true champion.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Safe Training

Observing certain etiquette is essential in training for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Following them will keep you and other gym members safe.


The sad reality is injuries happen in training. To avoid injuries, use tapping as a signal to your training partner or your opponent. Tapping is especially important when starting as your knowledge of the sport is not yet clear. If you feel something is not going right, just tap. 

You simply do it by tapping on your partner or opponent 2-4 times. Sometimes your hand may be held under your body. If that is the case, shouting “TAP” or “STOP” is also acceptable. Just be sure the tap is firm, or loud enough to be heard by your opponent. 


Most mats are hiding grounds for various forms of disease-causing germs. The commonest problem is skin diseases. To avoid infections, always shower after every training session. Also, properly wearing Gi or No Gi uniform ensures you don’t transmit to others. 

Observe the ‘no shoes out of the mat’ rule. Instead, use flip-flops in the bathroom, changing room, and other places outside of the mat. That will prevent collecting dirt with your feet and carrying them to the mat. Don’t forget to take care of oral hygiene too. As a sport that involves close contact between training partners or competitors, the freshness of breath is absolutely important. Be sure to brush or floss before coming for training. Also, keep your nails short to avoid injuring others.


BJJ is a physically exhausting sport due to its intensive use of energy. Inevitably, your body will lose so much fluid from excessive sweating. To avoid dehydration, always remember to carry a bottle of water. A re-usable one is even better as you can tuck it back in your gym bag for later use.


The ultimate dream of any BJJ athlete is to compete in the major international arena. If that is your aspiration then, you will be interested in the international competitions arenas. The major BJJ bodies are, IBJJF(International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation), UAEJJF(United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation), and ADCC(Abu Dhabi Combat Club). They are the major BJJ bodies that set the rules on the world stage. 

As gracing the world BJJ stage takes time, you might want to look for local tournament organizers. Participating in these will boost your skills and confidence to shoot for the global stage. A brief online search can turn in a substantial number of tournament organizers near where you live. 

Learning the rules about competitions is also essential. A good starting point is in weight categorization and awarding of points. For example, you are awarded 2 points for takedowns and three points for breaching your opponent’s guards.

Starting Jiu-jitsu Frequently Asked Questions.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Jiu-Jitsu?

It will take you an average of 10 years to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The average time is 1-3 years for lower levels such as the blue belt. The key is discipline in training and rolling.  Some fighters such as BJ Penn attained their black belt in under four years.

What Is The Best Age to Start Learning Jiu-Jitsu?

You can start training Jiu-Jitsu at any age. Whether you are 10years old or past your fifties, nothing can stop you from learning BJJ. You can join at any age and earn your black belt. Worldwide BJJ academies are filled with people that joined at the age of 30 and above.

Is it Possible to Self-train BJJ?

Training yourself is possible. While this method is not the best method it’s better than nothing. Watch videos on Youtube and practice the techniques at your home gym. Also, some sites offer free tutorials with tons of training videos.

Origin fighter

Origin Fighter is a blog for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to learn about Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, Wrestling, Boxing, Health & Nutrition, Performance and more. Origin Fighter also provides information on how to train smarter with resources such as workout plans and diets tailored for your goals.

About the Author

I am a huge fan of both BJJ and MMA. Jiu-jitsu is my biggest passion, and I’ve been training it for more than 5 years. I have recently been promoted to a purple belt. In this blog, I will be giving you tips on how to improve and how to choose the best BJJ equipment! Learn More