I first stepped foot into Elite MMA about three years ago for an introductory lesson for my three kids. After watching the kids with Coach Jose and the adult class that was going on, I decided I wanted to try it for myself too. I really didn’t think that much about it at first. But, when the time came for my first class, I was a bit reluctant. I was 41, overweight, and I didn’t know anything about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I felt more than a little awkward in my new gi lining up for that first class, but fortunately for me I was already in class before any of my concerns occurred to me.
A typical class involves warming up, learning a few moves, and then sparring. Some parts of the warm up were familiar to me, like jumping jacks or pushups, but much of what was covered was brand new and totally unfamiliar. Then, a very nice young lady that I outweighed by at least 50 pounds, quickly submitted me several times during sparing. I had a blast and left convinced that BJJ worked and that I wanted to learn it. Since then, BJJ has become an important part of my life and I have learned a few things that I wish I had known that first day.
First, don’t think that you need to be “in shape” to start. BJJ is a great way to get into better shape, but it will be challenging for anyone in the beginning, even those that are already fit. You will never be so fit that the beginning won’t be challenging. Think about someone who is running for the first time. They don’t know how to run efficiently or how to pace themselves. The same is true for BJJ. Even a very fit person will have to learn to move their body in new ways and figure out how hard they can go before they need to rest and recover. It is challenging for everyone. BJJ training adapts to where you are today with regards to fitness, knowledge, or any other attribute. We all train at a pace that works for us and with the goal improving and becoming a better version of ourselves.
Second, coaches are always careful to pair new people with students who know enough to keep you both safe. For your first several weeks, you will drill and spar with students that have at least a year or two of experience. It is only after you know enough to drill and spar safely that coaches will partner you with other new students.
Finally, and most importantly, everyone in the room on your first day remembers their first day and wants you to succeed. They don’t expect you to know what to do and many of us enjoy helping new students learn how it all works. We love BJJ and we want you to love it too. We are not just being altruistic either, we recognize that we and our school are better if we have lots of good training partners in all different shapes and sizes. We want you to join, to love it, and to get better.