- Growing Up Bronx
- Military Stories
One of my younger buddies asked me about the first day of BJJ. I thought since I’m fairly new to BJJ, I’m 42 years old and still very much a beginner that I am in a fairly good position to answer this question based off of my very recent experience.
So yes, it is extremely scary, and even now, if I miss just a few days, when I go back I feel like I’m going to puke because I’m so anxious about it. However, once I step on the mats and get to work with the team, it’s all good in the hood.
It really depends on the school, the instructor present, and the culture at the academy, but I have found that every school I’ve ever gone to allowed me to warm up, drill and then spar right from day one. I know that some schools don’t do that. In fact, I don’t think that the Gracie combatives even lets you spar until blue belt. Don’t quote me on that though, I’ve never been to a Gracie school myself.
Anyway, one thing I’ve found is that for the most part, the bjj community is very welcoming and supportive. In all my years of on and off white belt training, I’ve only encountered one person who I thought was an asshole. Everyone else has pretty much been really cool. You should know that your training partners are there to help you and not abuse you. Most higher belts and even more experienced white belts want to bring you up, they are not looking too crush your soul. Especially in the beginning.
You’ll find that guys you’ve never met in your life will treat you like a brother and family right away. Believe me, I know it’s awkward to walk into a new place and roll around with grown men on the floor. It’s especially hard when you are the new guy and feel like everyone already knows each other. Maybe you show up and everyone is already paired up, don’t sweat it. Just move around and warm up, most times a pair will invite you to work in with them. Most of us want everyone to get some work in.
You’ll find that by the end of that first training session, you are now one of those guys who knows each other. You are now one of us! Once you sweat, bleed, roll around and grunt together, you become brothers and sisters. That’s just how it is in our community.
You should know this though, be humble because we will match your energy. So if you come out here like a beast when you train, you will be met with that same beast energy. So just try to relax, enjoy yourself and don’t try to dominate anyone because you simply won’t be able to. Tap, embrace it, learn and grow. If you go in there and you try to crush your training partners, you will leave them no choice but to reciprocate in kind. If you happen to have a fighting background, be that wrestling, judo, whatever, and you crush the newer guys, then the higher belts will notice and they will pay you in kind. No one likes a bully. Mind you, I’m not saying roll over and let yourself be destroyed, but humility goes a long way in surviving this game. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, we don’t encounter too many assholes in this sport. Egos do exist, always! But most of us keep them in check. And if we don’t, don’t worry, there’s always someone ready to handle that for you!
Don’t overthink it, just sign up for that first class, go in, learn, enjoy yourself and tap to your heart’s content! You’ll fall in love with it and you’ll see that once you start, it’s all good! You got this! Go for it!