The Ultimate Guide To Brazilian Jiu Jitsu For Beginners


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  • What Is BJJ?

  • Finding a good gym

  • Gi or No Gi?

  • Jiu Jitsu Belts


Jiu Jitsu is an art of submission grappling originating from Japan but adopted and refined in Brazil by the legendary Gracie Family since 1925.

  Hunter "Hidden Tiger" Hickman executing a rear naked choke submission.

Hunter "Hidden Tiger" Hickman executing a rear naked choke submission.

Jiu Jitsu utilizes the mechanics of the human body to gain control of your opponent by usingleversmomentum, and deception eventually leading to a submission or "tap" which signifies an inability to escape a position which would have ended in injury or death.

As scary as that may sound, DON'T WORRY!Though injuries do happen, Jiu Jitsu is known for being family friendly and safe. Any good Jiu Jitsu gym will have great safety standards, where the members work hard to keep each other safe from injury, and care about the well being of our training partners. 


You have decided to take the leap and jump head first into the immersive and addictive world of BJJ! That's great! The first step is the most important, but how do you know which gym to walk into?


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A first and easy step would be to simply search the internet for Jiu Jitsu gyms in your area. Jiu Jitsu has grown in popularity in the last couple decades and you can find a gym in just about every major town or city in America. You can get a general sense of a gym by reading some of the reviews left by people who have visited the gym to train. A well loved gym will likely have deep a connection with it's students, who talk highly of the facilities, staff, instructors, and students.




Jiu Jitsu practitioners love sharing their passion with the people they meet on a regular basis. Because of this, we tend to be ready and willing to recommend our gym or other gyms in the area that we know can provide a great experience.



Attend a local Jiu Jitsu tournament, or a MMA event and take note of the badges or clothing indicating which gyms the competitors might belong too. The best gyms in your area will likely have competitors who do well in the local events.



A Gi is the main tool and clothing worn in traditional Jiu Jitsu, and is the Jiu Jitsu version of a Kimono. A Gi is thick and tough which allows you to use your opponents Gi, as well as your own Gi to secure grips, control movement, and even finish submissions such as chokes and joint locks.

  • GI

Traditional Gi Jiu Jitsu is the trademark style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

  1. It allows the practice of all movements and submissions involved within Jiu Jitsu and even provides extra weight and resistance to increase the intensity of your training.
  2. A Gi can be used to simulate the average street clothing, and may provide insight into using an attackers clothing to control and eliminate the threat in a self defense situation.
  • NO GI

  1. No Gi Jiu Jitsu is generally practiced in regular athletic apparel and is practiced without the use of  clothing or a Gi as a means for control for submission.
  2. No Gi Jiu Jitsu is one of the main staples of mixed martial arts competition where the competitors are wearing limited equipment and are likely slippery and hard to hold onto.

  1. Both Gi, and no Gi Jiu Jitsu have a variety of benefits and I would always recommend every person participate in both.
  2. Your choice may be influenced by what your personal goals are, or by what is available at your chosen school.
  • Do you intend to fight in MMA? If so, you will likely want to spend the majority of your time without the gi.
  • Do you want to focus on learning every single aspect of Jiu Jitsu, or plan on competing in a multitude of tournaments? Then you probably want to practice in the Gi to be accustomed to the weight, and control that the Gi provides your opponent.

Either choice is a great one, and many people inevitably end up doing both, or switching back and forth as your personal goals and interests change as you mature as a martial artist. 


1. You can purchase a Gi at your local athletic store or sports store.

  • For example: OTM fight shop  

2. Another popular place to buy them is online. 

  • You can even order my gyms custom gis at 


If you have never worn a gi before don't worry, I'll tell you what to look for!

Before purchasing your new BJJ Gi, you need to know what you are looking for. 

The Right Fit. A Gi that is too big or too small will hinder your performance. Some tournaments have specific gi standards, but to be safe, follow these specific Gi sizing guidelines.

  • You should be able to slide four fingers into the sleeves without resistance
  • Sleeves should be within Four fingers of the wrist with arms extended
  • The top should reach down to the thigh
  • the pants should be no more than 5 cm from the ankle bone.
  1. You want a durable Gi that will stand the test of time, so go with a material that will last. The most wear and tear is in the chest, thighs, underarms, knees, and side openings. 
  2. Brands to look for:  Fuji, Hayabusa, Tatami Estilo, Scramble, and Shoyoroll. 

Belts (Adult) 

Belts are used to signify your level of expertise, experience and knowledge within a martial art.


  •  Stripes on a belt are used to signify your progression through that specific rank. You can receive 4 stripes on all belts except for black before being awarded the proceeding belt. A black belt may receive 10 stripes on his/her belt.


  • White belt is by far the most important belt of them all. It signifies you took the first important step on a long journey. As a white belt, you are learning the basic positions, and submissions, as well as giving your mind and body an introduction to something that is likely totally foreign. Your movement is likely awkward, and lacks the muscle memory to make smooth transitions. The key to progressing through white is consistency in showing up to learn. 


  • Blue is what I would call the second start to jiu jitsu. You finally have some color on your belt, which signifies a true dedication to the art, and puts you above your average weekend warrior. You have a decent, well rounded understanding of positions and submissions, and even have a few go-to techniques that you're fairly advanced with. You've gained muscle memory, and your body is familiar with the movements of BJJ. This is the belt where you might find yourself catching your first black belt with a surprise submission (but don't count on them letting it happen again).  


  • Purple belt is what i would consider the first advanced belt, and is the level of expertise which would resemble a black belt in most other martial arts. At this point, you may start teaching new students and have a deep understanding of Jiu Jitsu. You likely no longer have the urge to prove yourself to every partner and are more focused on bettering yourself and others. Your body knows which decisions to make automatically, and you are starting to specialize into specific positions. At purple you will generally have a style of Jiu Jitsu that is completely your own. You know what you are trying to achieve when rolling and have a plan of action to get there. 


  • Once you have made it to brown belt, it is really only a matter of time before you get your black belt. At this belt, you will focus on the intricate details of the positions, in an effort to fill in the small cracks you have in your Jiu Jitsu style. You have a specialized style of your own and have experience with what works for your body.  Brown belt is likely a time of teaching. At this level of experience, teaching others will be a major key in cementing the intricacies of positions into your mind. 


  • The revered black belt signifies perseverance and mastery. You find yourself both an experienced teacher and student. This is the highest ranking of the common belt system, often finding yourself in the position of "professor". You have an ability to "feel" your way through a Jiu Jitsu match, relying on a deep knowledge of the art, and an ingrained variety of responses to different situations. 

Following black belt are a variety of uncommon belts in which I will not go into detail. I personally have limited experience with anyone in the uncommon belts, and don't feel qualified to speak on their behalf.

The uncommon belt rankings proceed as follows.

Red / Black - 7th degree black belt.

Red / White - 8th degree black belt. 

Red - 9th & 10th degree black belt.