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Welcome to the /r/bjj FAQ!

For Beginners:

- Starting Out:

  • You do not need to get fit/strength-train/diet before starting. The best way to get in shape for BJJ is to do BJJ. Just go try it!
  • Pace yourselves, and stay consistent. Tap early, and tap often, then ask your partner how they "got" you - it's how you learn.
  • Supplementary stuff like books, DVDs, Youtube videos, etc are great, but never a replacement for mat time. (See the next section)
  • If you have to, there's tons of suggestions in the search bar in the top right, and the following section of the FAQ.

Learning/Self-Teaching

  • Keep training. The first 6 months are pretty much just learning how to move.
  • Trust in your instructor(s). They're there to help, and will know what is expected of you, and what you should work on at your skill level.

- Technique Of The Month Threads

For several months, /r/bjj would have "Technique Of The Month" threads. They focused on positions, submission, or transitions.

- External Resources

Gear Questions

- Gis & Other Gear

  • A starter gi does not need to cost much. There are several gis that cost $60 USD - $100 USD that are perfectly fine options, and often come with a free white belt.
  • Check the sizing charts, and ask similarly-sized teammates. Note: Sizing often changes between brands. Don't expect one brand's A2 to be the same cut as another brand's A2.
  • Consider a mouthguard
  • Cups are controversial, but illegal in most tournaments. They can also contribute to bad, or even dangerous technique (eg: armbars using the cup as leverage)

- How do I tape my fingers/toes/wrists/ankles to prevent injury, or to train through a minor injury?

Fitness & Health

- Medical Advice and Injuries

  • General soreness after exercise is common, but if the pain lasts, or is bad enough that you're worried, see a doctor.
  • Use common sense here. Reddit is not a good place for medical advice, and your question may very likely be against the subreddit Rules (in the sidebar).
  • "But I got injured, or I think I am injured and I'm not sure what to do!" Refer to this excellent thread on reasonable things we can suggest
  • Cauliflower ear can happen, but it isn't a guarantee. If you are worried, wear headgear. If you get it, the best way to drain it is to see a doctor who will drain it and bolster it (use gauze and stitches to keep pressure on it). If you want to drain it yourself, there are videos and "how to's" out there. (topic suggested by stay_fr0sty)

- Nutritional Advice for overall health and success in BJJ

- I am already training and I want to get stronger for BJJ, how do I do it?

  • BJJ is about technique, but there's still a minimum of strength necessary to execute techniques and prevent injury. Don't focus on strength training so much that it gets in the way of class time.
  • Bodyweight training can work, for more info please see /r/bodyweightfitness
  • Possibly the most efficient approach is progressively increasing resistance using external tools like barbells and dumbbells. Start light, even with unloaded versions of the movements at first if necessary, and steadily progress to heavier weights over time.
  • Focus on the basics: barbell squats, deadlifts, overhead and bench presses, Turkish get-ups, weighted lunges, pull-ups or barbell rows, power cleans, power snatches, jerks. A program based on just a few of those at a time is ideal.
  • Pick a strength program (not a bodybuilding program) that uses powerlifting or Olympic/compound lifting as a template: Starting Strength, 5/3/1, StrongLifts, and so on are all good choices. You will "stall" or have trouble adding weight earlier than if you weren't doing BJJ, but that's OK, just progress more slowly.
  • It is highly recommended that you hire a licensed personal trainer or strength coach to teach you proper lifting form. Lifting heavy things with bad form can result in injury. Lifting heavy things with the right form can result in you getting much, much stronger.
  • Lifting regularly and progressing from untrained to novice puts you at the top end of the strength pyramid for the purposes of training BJJ. There is a tendency to get caught up in how much weight we are pushing and that is not the point for our purposes. Proper form and proper rest are way more important than raw lift numbers. Many of the places lifting is discussed on the internet will have you believe if you aren't benching 300, squatting 400, and deadlifting 500 you are hopelessly weak. Probably less than .01% of the people you train BJJ with can move this kind of weight.
    Info provided by /u/daveliepmann , /u/BriMcC, and /u/gunslinger_006

- Hygiene Etiquette

  • Shower as soon as possible after every training session. Anti-fungal soaps, tea-tree oil, and anti-dandruff shampoo are all optional, but may help prevent skin infections.
  • Wash your gear after every training session, including your belt.
  • Keep an eye out for skin infections on you and your training partners. If your skin does something unusual, get off the mats and see a doctor to get rid of it before training again.
  • Keep your nails trimmed and clean to avoid cutting your partner.
  • Athlete's foot is ringworm. If you have athlete's foot, even a mild case, you should stay off the mat until it is completely gone. No, socks do not contain it. (topic suggested by pappyomine)

Choosing a Gym

- How do I choose a gym?

- Does my instructor need to be a black belt?

  • A head instructor that isn't a black belt isn't the end of the world, especially when you're starting out. Many purple & brown belts own gyms, especially in smaller towns or rural areas. Ideally, a black belt is at least affiliated and guiding the curriculum, but a brand new white belt will be able to learn the fundamentals from upper belts.

Gym Etiquette

- When can I compete?

- I'm a guy. How do I roll with women?

Don't feel bad for asking this. It is a common question. The issue stems from the thought that contact with someone of the opposite sex is typically reserved to show affection... until you start BJJ. In BJJ, contact with the opposite sex suddenly entails trying to tap them out. Hugs are a now a threat.

So how do you approach rolling with the opposite sex? The same way you would approach someone of the same sex who is her size and has her level of experience. If the woman is much smaller than you, then you roll with her the same way you would roll with a guy of her size and experience. Don't adjust your game for any other reason than your partner's size and experience. Based on the feedback that we've seen many times in /r/bjj from women, handling them too delicately is patronizing. They are there to learn how to defend against a larger opponent just like everyone else; help them reach their goal.

What if you touch a boob? Or their butt? It happens. The first couple of times might be awkward for you, but realize that they know this is going to happen. It isn't sexual in nature. It isn't anything other than incidental contact which is simply part of the process. Don't make an issue of it and just keep rolling. Want to grab her collar near her chest? Do it. Want to grab the pants at the hip for control? Do it. This all falls into the category of "treat them like a guy of their size". She is your training partner and the faster she improves, the faster you improve as a result.

See the next section for some suggestions about how to roll to the size/experience of your partner.

(topic suggested by omar_strollin)

- How do I roll with someone much smaller than me?

The usual answer to this question is "just use technique". Ultimately, using pure technique is impossible: you need to use some strength to move yourself and that means you are moving your weight at a certain speed which creates momentum and pressure which is ultimately not using pure technique. Technique requires the use of strength, speed, and weight to a certain degree.

So what is the answer? The answer is usually you try not to rely on your attributes. Do you normally use your weight to pressure into people? Do you use your gumby-like flexibility to reguard? Do you use your construction-worker-of-20-years grips to break and hold posture down? When rolling with smaller people whose attributes put them at an inherent disadvantage to yours, try to not rely on your attributes like you do against people of your own size or more experience. Maybe you move a bit more instead of smashing down and hugging tight. Maybe you focus only on moving yourself through transitions instead of throwing them around.

But it isn't just about doing this on offense. If they are doing a sweep correctly and the only thing holding you up is your 4 foot tree-trunk of an arm, maybe you don't fight tooth and nail to preserve top position, let them earn the sweep, and work your defense while they work their offense. There is a fine line between being patronizing and being a good partner in this regard. That line is usually that you are active partner throughout the entire drill/roll, but not an overbearing one. If the round ends and both of you have been in top position at least once during the round and you're both exhausted, you can consider it a successful roll.

Credit & Thanks

This FAQ was taken largely from /u/rand486's post: http://www.reddit.com/r/bjj/comments/20x1es/the_answers_to_every_single_6_months_of_training/

Thanks to /u/cuduck1, /u/Eagleinshoulderpads, /u/hellokhoi, /u/iamnotaseahorse and everyone else who suggested changes or additional questions & answers.

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revision by UncleSkippy— view source