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A Beginner's Guide to Brazilian Jiujitsu

Updated: May 3, 2023

Are you looking for a fun and exciting way to stay fit, build confidence and resilience, and acquire valuable self-defense skills? If so, consider Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ)!

Developed in Brazil in the early 20th century, BJJ has gained popularity around the world as a highly effective martial art that emphasizes ground grappling and submissions. But BJJ is more than just a sport or a workout; it's a community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about improving themselves and helping others.


Starting BJJ in Raleigh

When you attend your first Brazilian jiujitsu class, you'll likely start with some basic warm-up exercises, such as stretching and calisthenics, to get your body ready for the workout ahead. At Fight Flow, during a student's first class, we'll run through positions, which will allow you to follow along as we teach techniques. This initial orientation gives you basic terminology, and provides an overview of fundamental body positioning from the guard, mount, side control, half-guard, and back control.

You'll then learn some basic techniques, such as how to properly execute a few of the most common escapes and submissions. Don't worry if you feel a bit lost at first; everyone starts as a beginner, and your instructor will be there to guide you every step of the way. Once you feel comfortable, you will be able to participate in sparring activities, or as it's called in BJJ, rolling.

In terms of gear and equipment, you'll need a BJJ gi (a special type of martial arts uniform) and a belt that corresponds to your rank (which will be white if you're a beginner). Talk to us and we'll help you get your gear sorted!

Learning the Basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Every white belt will start with fundamental techniques and positions.

At Fight Flow, we place an emphasis on teaching effective escapes and reversals to new students. It's important to gain skills that you will use when fighting from an inferior position. There are practical and psychological reasons why it's important to develop skills for grappling from the bottom position. First, as a new student, you will find yourself under mount, side control, and back control frequently. As an imperative for self-defense, it's important that you learn how to get out of those situations as quickly as possible. Psychologically, the more you develop your escape and reversal skills, the more comfortable you will be in taking chances and experimenting with techniques during training and while rolling. This is true at every level of your progress, from white belt to black belt. Any progress you make in improving your escapes and reversals will translate into improvements across the board, including your offensive techniques from superior positions.

Repetition and Drilling

Repetition and drilling are key components of learning BJJ. You'll spend a lot of time practicing the same techniques over and over again, both on your own and with a training partner. Repetition and drilling are central to any martial arts practice. Repetition of movement leads to muscle memory - essentially transferring a conscious skill into your subconscious, which frees up working memory. As your body learns to perform actions with minimal thought, your attention can focus on refining your technique, or adding more complex variation. Read more about the importance of repetition in the learning process.


Competitions and tournaments are a great way to test your skills and see how you stack up against other BJJ practitioners. There are many different types of BJJ tournaments, ranging from local competitions to international events, and they often offer opportunities to meet and train with other BJJ enthusiasts from around the world.

What You Will Gain Training in BJJ

Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a life-changing experience, offering a wide range of physical, mental, and social benefits.

Physically, you will gain increased strength, endurance, flexibility, and overall fitness, as well as a valuable skill set in self-defense. BJJ training develops whole-body strength and endurance.

Mentally, you will develop focus, discipline, problem-solving skills, and mental resilience, as well as increased self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

Socially, you will become part of a supportive and like-minded community of practitioners, forming close bonds and friendships with your training partners and instructors.

The Belt System in BJJ

As you become more experienced in BJJ, you'll have the opportunity to progress through the belt system and participate in competitions and tournaments.

The belt system in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a way of recognizing and rewarding progress in the sport. The belt colors in BJJ range from white (for beginners) to black (for experts), with several levels in between. Belt promotions are based on a combination of factors, including skill level, time spent training, and competition results. In addition to the belt colors, BJJ also has a system of stripes that are awarded in between belt promotions. At Fight Flow, you will earn four stripes at each belt level before you move on to the next level.

As a beginner in BJJ, you'll start with a white belt, which represents a clean slate and a willingness to learn. As you progress through the ranks, you'll earn stripes on your belt to indicate your increasing knowledge and skill level.

With steady training, most students will spend two years at white belt, although that time span can be shortened through a high level of dedication and time spent on the mat, and also through participation in competitions.

Blue belts are considered to be intermediate-level practitioners and are often tasked with helping to teach and guide newer students. Student's will remain at blue belt until they achieve an advanced level of proficiency with solid techniques from all positions.

The next step up from blue belt is purple belt. Purple belts are considered to be advanced-level practitioners and are expected to be able to demonstrate a high degree of technical skill and tactical knowledge. Well under 5% of BJJ practitioners ever make it to purple belt, so reaching this level is a significant accomplishment.

After achieving the rank of purple belt, the next step up is brown belt, which is earned after many years of dedicated training and competition experience. Brown belts are considered to be masters of the art and are often responsible for teaching and mentoring other students.

After many years of dedicated training, you will reach the rank of black belt. A black belt represents years of dedication, hard work, and mastery of the fundamental techniques and principles of the art.

However, achieving the rank of black belt is not the end of the journey in BJJ. In fact, many practitioners consider it to be just the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning and growth. Black belts are expected to continue training and refining their skills, as well as contributing to the BJJ community through teaching, mentoring, and competing.

In summary, the belt system in BJJ provides a clear path for progression and recognition of skill level. By earning each belt through hard work and dedication, you can become a respected and accomplished practitioner of this challenging and rewarding martial art.

Start Your BJJ Journey!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that offers a wide range of physical, mental, and social benefits. It is a highly technical and challenging sport that requires focus, discipline, and problem-solving skills, making it an excellent choice for those looking to improve their physical fitness and mental resilience. Additionally, BJJ is a highly social activity, with a strong community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about improving themselves and helping others.

Whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced martial artist, BJJ has something to offer. By finding a reputable gym or academy, learning the basics, and progressing through the belt system and competitions, you can become a skilled and confident BJJ practitioner. So why not take the first step and start your BJJ journey today? With dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to lifelong learning and growth, you can achieve your goals and become a respected and accomplished practitioner of this dynamic and rewarding martial art.

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