Today we’re going to be taking a look at the different things that you need to get started in BJJ.
Before we get into this, I just want to say the best way to start, is just to start. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but just head down to your nearest BJJ gym and don’t over complicate things.
After a couple of sessions, you’ll get the hang of things and know exactly what you need.
That being said, we’ve written this article to ease your learning curve and get you equipped for your time on the mat.
Lets’ get to it.
Gear You’ll Need
We’re going to start off by taking a look at the different gear that you may need when starting BJJ. I just want to point out that the only item you definitely need is a gi, the other items aren’t necessary, but can definitely be beneficial and provide a bit of protection.
A gi is the uniform traditionally worn when practicing and competing in BJJ. There is a form of BJJ where a gi isn’t worn, aptly named “No-Gi BJJ”, however most people transition to this after studying BJJ in a gi.
A BJJ gi is made up of three parts – the Kimono (jacket), pants and a belt. You won’t need a gi for your first few classes as you’ll just be learning the basics, but if you want to roll properly and get the most out of the lessons, you’re going to need a gi.
Finding a good quality BJJ gi can be a bit tricky, especially if this is your first time buying one. There’s such a massive variety of brands and designs out there, that it can be a bit daunting.
A rash guard is a tight fitting, usually spandex or lycra made top that you can wear underneath your gi jacket. As the name suggests, this can help to prevent you from sustaining a rash by providing another layer of protection over your skin.
Similarly, a rash guard can help stop you from getting friction burns either from your jacket or the mat. I can’t tell you how many times my neck and arm pits have had friction burns from my jacket, so wearing a rash guard really does help and make things a little more comfortable.
There’s a ton of different rash guards out there, so I would recommend reading our list of the best rash guards for BJJ for more information.
These are only really necessary if you want to transition into no-gi BJJ. You can wear your gi pants, but it can put you at a slight disadvantage as it provides a lot of fabric for your opponent to grip.
Wearing shorts doesn’t allow this to happen and is also a lot more comfortable. Again, only really consider getting a decent pair of shorts if you’re looking to try your hand at no-gi BJJ or if you haven’t yet decided to buy a gi.
Due to the nature of BJJ, and most other martial arts, limbs can sometimes end up places where they probably shouldn't. One such place is the groin.
Blunt force trauma can result in an array of unpleasant injuries to the groin and as such, a cup really is a must have. It's important to find a cup that's both comfortable and protective so that it doesn't distract you whilst training.
The best cup brand designed specifically for martial arts is Diamond MMA. These cups are easily the best on the market, and as Diamond MMA say themselves, it'll be the 'last athletic cup you'll ever buy'.
You can also check out our in-depth list of the best cups for BJJ if you're on the hunt for a good quality groin guard.
This really is a must have. This may sound a bit gross, but my toes are weirdly shaped and always get cuts/ friction burns that start to bleed when ever I’m training.
Unless you want to spend the class wiping up your blood from the mat, I highly suggest you get some finger tape. You don’t want to be that guy who’s always asking to borrow some (which there always is), so just order some online, it’s super cheap.
Again, this isn’t really necessary for your first class, but if you start going on a regular basis and notice you’re fingers and toes are bleeding, get some tape of your own.
I guarantee you at your first class, you’ll see at least one person with their fingers tapped up, so don’t worry about looking strange, it’s incredibly common.
If you’ve got mouth braces, I would definitely recommend wearing a mouth guard. Even if you don't and you like to roll (spar) at a high intensity, it can still be a good idea to wear a mouth guard (no one likes lost/broken teeth).
Not long after I started learning Judo I had braces fitted and my god, the amount of cuts I sustained in my mouth was awful. For some reason, I didn't want to wear a mouth guard (not many people do in Judo), but looking back that was a silly decision.
My braces sometimes even got caught on peoples gi, which let me tell you, was not a fun experience. Even if you don't have braces, wearing a mouth guard when you roll is definitely the sensible choice, with some clubs even making it mandatory.
If you're attending your first lesson, ask the coach whether or not you need a mouth guard, and if they say yes, get one for your next lesson.
It took my a while to start wearing knee pads but, my lord I am happy I did. If you're serious about BJJ, it's likely you're going to spend hundreds, if not thousands of hours on your knees.
Although BJJ mats tend to be soft, these hours tallied up can start to take a toll on your knees. Plus, due to the very nature of BJJ, the chances are your knee is going to collide with someone else's at some point or another.
To help protect your knees against such problems, knee guards/pads are a very, very good idea. Plus, they tend to be pretty cheap, so you don't have to worry about investing a ton of money.
A BJJ Gym
Of course, how else can you learn BJJ with out finding a club or gym near you. A simple Google search should pull up the closest ones to you, and considering how popular BJJ has become, the chances are there will be one.
Most places offer a free trial lesson, so you've got nothing to loose by giving it a try.
The Desire to Learn
Learning anything new in life isn't easy, especially for BJJ when the learning process often involves getting tapped out every 5-minutes.
With that in mind, you need to have the desire to learn and the determination to get through the 'noob' stage. Once you do, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
I would like to finish off this post on the same note that I started it, and that's just go for it. Don't worry about what you do or don't need and just turn up.
You'll soon get into the swing of things and figure it all out on your own.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section below.