Whenever you start a new sport, there is always uncertainty as to what to bring to training. BJJ is no different. Although there is no equipment (balls, bats etc.), you should still have a checklist of items before you hit the mats. Below is a list of items, some essential, others non-essential that I will always have packed and ready before class. Your own gym may have specific requirements so make sure to double-check before heading in.
What to Bring
Gi and Belt
Most gyms will provide you with your first Gi and your shiny White belt. Despite this however, it isn’t a bad idea to purchase one before starting out. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, is a sizing issue. As with any uniforms, standard sizes do not fit all. Personally, I need a large length but a medium width. Your gym many not have these specific sizes so check out your local sports shop and try a few on. Secondly, the material of some Gis might feel better to you than others. Finally, it’s not a bad idea to have 2 Gis in your arsenal, especially if you plan on training 3-4 times per week. This will save time and money on daily washing and drying. Belts don’t pose the same issues as a Gi so don’t worry too much size, just make sure it’s white!
A t-shirt is a good idea for two main reasons. Firstly, wearing a t-shirt under your Gi is a bit more comfortable especially if you’ve never worn a Gi before. Some gyms may require that you wear something as a base layer for hygiene reasons. T-shirts are also a good absorber of sweat (something you will be doing a lot of). The second reason for a t-shirt is a self-conscious thing. Whether you are comfortable or not with your body, many people feel naked whilst wearing a Gi with nothing underneath. I know that when I forget my base layer at home, I feel like there is something missing. Others however feel too restricted whilst wearing one. I would recommend starting out with one for your first few sessions and take it from there.
Water is essential! BJJ is a physical sport and the Gi especially, can make you breathe hard. Having a big bottle of water nearby is something you will need between rounds or between drills. Make sure not to drink too much too fast and make sure that you are drinking plenty before training. Too many times I have chugged too much too fast during training and knew all about it straight after. Make sure you clearly mark your bottle to avoid drinking your partners’.
This is another optional item but I can’t train without one. Although you rarely receive contact to your teeth, BJJ is a full contact sport and a loose arm or leg is always a possibility. Make sure you fit it correctly before class so that it doesn’t come loose easily. Some people find it hard to breathe through gum shields but you will get used to it before long.
NO SHOES ON THE MAT! No matter where you go to train, this is a golden rule of every academy. Shoes carry the outside world in and the mats are where you spend the majority of your time. Make sure you have a pair of sandals or flip flops in your bag so you can walk to and from the changing rooms without dragging any dirt onto your training area. Most gyms will have a shoe rack or an area to leave your shoes. Make sure you don’t walk on the mat in shoes and you’ll be much appreciated for it