Nervous About a Jiu-Jitsu Class? 10 Helpful Reminders!

Home » Nervous About a Jiu-Jitsu Class? 10 Helpful Reminders!

Below you will find some thoughts and pointers on how to overcome this uncomfortable nervous feeling of going your first class or to a new Jiu-Jitsu gym. And as life can throw curveballs, turning your Jiu-Jitsu journey upside down, same tips can be applied to long layoffs of course. Quit sitting on the sidelines wondering, if you’ll ever get back or onto the mats, just show up and half the battle is already won.

Below you’ll find a small peptalk which will ease your mind about going to your first Jiu-Jitsu class, or to a new gym after a long layoff.

Everyone Else Is Feeling The Same

Remind yourself when you’re feeling anxious that everyone else is feeling exactly the same way to varying degrees and it’s perfectly normal. I’ve seen Jiu-Jitsu black-belts who were probably more nervous than me. And that’s a feat in itself. Albeit for different reasons, but the result was the same uncomfortable feeling I was struggling with. People are still people and our basic instincts, like fear and pleasure are embedded in all of us.

It might feel like you’re in the center of attention being the newcomer. But in reality everyone has their own little rituals before and during the practice. Who is trying to remember a move from last session and who is grappling with some unrelated to BJJ issue. So there is really no reason to over think this and be nervous about when attending your first Jiu-Jitsu class.

People Are Nice To Newcomers

People will be nice to you as it’s your first session and extra so if you’re a female going to your first Jiu-Jitsu class. Main thing is of course is to be polite yourself. This bit is probably universal, no matter where you go or what the new activity is—people will generally be nice to you! If it’s a good BJJ school you should be able to feel how everyone is actually looking out for one another and the positive atmosphere it creates.

It’s like the first day of school, everyone is dressed up and polite—especially to female newcomers, as it’s probably twice as hard for them to take the first step into BJJ.

You Will Feel Like You Won Something!

Endorphins going through your body after a Jiu-Jitsu class is just one of the many reasons people keep coming back and get addicted. to the sport. It’s also probably one of the most underrated reasons. Once you finish your first class, you will most definitely get to experience it yourself.

Regularly doing Jiu-Jitsu (read: Endorphins) will likely;

  • Reduce stress and nervousness
  • Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Improve sleep

New People Come And Go

Regular attendees, probably see so many new faces come and go that they’re not even paying attention that much to your presence. Depending on the school and its location, BJJ has a high number of people flowing through which makes noticing new faces even less noteworthy. So thinking that everybody is watching and critiquing your every move and taking notes of your mistakes is nonsense. In reality, everybody else is doing their own thing just like you.

Jiu-Jitsu Gyms Are Welcoming

If it’s anything I learned over the years of travelling and visiting different BJJ gyms, it’s that Jiu-Jitsu gyms are eager to have you on their mats. Whether you’re a novice or a higher level practitioner, going to a new BJJ gym will definitely be a very welcoming experience and there is absolutely nothing to be nervous about

BJJ gyms are very welcoming to newcomers and you’ll most likely see smiles all around.

Most practitioners are living the “BJJ mindset” – laid back, relaxed and welcoming so it’s a nice atmosphere to put yourself in. Jiu-Jitsu is a difficult and humbling discipline which tends to produce positive and supportive people.

There are also economic incentives to consider. If a Jiu-Jitsu gym gets a bad review, chances are new people will eventually stop showing up there. And gym lights will be turned off sooner or later. So every gym is, or at least is trying to be the most open armed they know how. Although as a side note, there are probably very few schools, if any, who are doing it for the sole purpose of cold hard cash. In my experience anyway.

You Are In Control Of The Workout

As the whole atmosphere is new and maybe even a little overwhelming, don’t forget that you are in control of your presence over there. Specifically the pace at which you’re going through the lesson. Whenever I visit a new gym, I always keep this mantra in the back of my head as the pace at which BJJ classes are carried out varies. Especially the warm up part. I’d be careful of not over doing it. Or you will have little left in the gas tank for the rest of the session. Although setting a good pace will also help you overcome the initial nervous feeling you might have. This will naturally depend on your physical abilities and other factors such as age, gender etc. More on this topic here.

Don’t try too hard on your first BJJ session. Learn to breathe and move at your own pace. This is also a good reminder for people who have had a long layoff and are looking to get back on the mats.

Everyone Is There To Help You Get Better

As mentioned earlier Jiu-Jitsu gyms are welcoming. The other important part is that everyone is very helpful to one another. This is also part of the BJJ culture and mindset – if you improve, I have a better opponent next time we drill or spar. 

Though you don’t need to worry and be nervous about sparring just yet. Even if your BJJ school has sparring at the end of the class from the first lesson (not all Jiu-Jitsu schools have that), you can pair up with higher ranking belts as they will look after you and be gentle.

Most people enjoy working with beginners because they have a lot to offer in terms of instruction. It’s human nature to help out others.

You Will Make New Friends

This might seem like an obvious thing to note, but nevertheless I feel like it needs to be pointed out. I have made new friends and business connections through Jiu-Jitsu all over the world. Most of whom I still keep in touch with or are managing various business endeavours. 

I’ve also seen even the most introverted people open up eventually. And it’s like a whole new person showing up. One might even say that you’ll find a new friend inside yourself. About whose existence you had no idea or lost touch with. You know, the one that wants to exercise and not lay on the couch and drink beer. I know I certainly fit that description at various points in my life.

Nobody Is Watching You

Unlike regular gyms where weights are being lifted you might find people sizing each other up. I’ve been guilty of this myself way back when and most likely everyone that has been to a bodybuilding gym has also come across this. 

While this might be happening at higher level ranks, it’s for totally different reasons and nothing to worry about when you’re a beginner or your first Jiu-Jitsu class. At higher ranks people are usually trying to learn from one other or help out the other person. Hence the occasional glance at how others are doing. 

Everyone is there to work on their own BJJ game and has no time to pay attention to newcomers, unless you specifically ask for help. Which is not uncommon and even welcomed. As you will get the hang of it more quickly.

This last part kind of correlates with previous thoughts, but it’s important to keep this in mind. Everyone has their own agenda for the class. Whether it’s a new move they saw on Youtube last night and are eager to test out or are otherwise busy trying to follow the Jiu-Jitsu lesson. 

Believe me, once you’re on the mat and warm up is done, all these thoughts will be wiped from your head. Either you went too hard during your first warm-up and are trying to cope with overwhelming physical fatigue (more on warm-up here) or you’re just too busy taking in all the new sensations. We all remember our first day, so no worries!

Half The Battle Is Won By Showing Up

Look at it this way — if you get yourself to the gym, you’ve already won a big part of the mental battle against nervousness. And all that follows is a bonus. Jiu-Jitsu will work for anyone, just keep showing up and give it a little time. We’ve all been through that nervous and a little uncomfortable state at some point or another and can totally relate. Just show up!

Do you have helpful tips to share with others?

Do you want to add something to this list? Please feel free to comment below and give me your thoughts. I will occasionally start updating this post.

Share this story

2 thoughts on “Nervous About a Jiu-Jitsu Class? 10 Helpful Reminders!”

    1. Hi William,

      The best solution I’ve found for myself (as I’m on and off in the same boat due to life throwing curveballs and constantly travelling), that I connect with my old training partners (or a new gym) and ask for the schedule. After this first step(!) is done, it’s pretty much “go time” … kind of a psychological mind”#%& with yourself. This worked for me many times. It’s very easy to send out a couple of messages from your phone or device and after that, it’s kind of a binding contract w/ yourself.

      Almost forgot I had this page — I created this to get myself motivated in the last slump lol. And You’re actually my first interaction on this blog, so “Osu” and thanks, this will push me forward on my journey as well.

      Appreciated & cheers mate,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top