I've been teaching some classes lately, and last week I had the pleasure of instructing someone on their very first BJJ class. My school has a standard First Day Lesson, so I just stuck to that. It goes like this:
1. Upa escape from mount
2. Standing guard pass to 100 kilos
3. Hip switch to taking mount
4. Americana or cross collar choke
Each of these is taught and drilled on its own, and then (when all have been taught) done in a row, one after another.
An emphasis is placed on drilling, drilling, drilling, without a lot of questions, discussion or interpretation, especially with their partner (usually another white belt) because most problems will work themselves out if they just drilled it more. Afterall, they are usually doing things they've never done anything like before.
Here's some explanation of why these moves are taught first:
The upa teaches them one of the most important skills ever -- escaping mount. I'm sure you can understand the importance of that. It's usually taught after a little test where my instructor has the person lay down and get mounted and tells them to escape however they want (just without punching or eye gouging). They usually spaz out and fail. If they roll and give up their back he'll stop and ask them "Now, does this seem like a better or worse position?" and have the partner start setting up a RNC if they don't catch on quickly. This exercise make people realize "I don't know what I'm doing" and hopefully "But I need to learn."
The guard pass introduces them to passing the guard, and also teaches them proper base and posture and how to generate forward pressure while passing. 100 kilos gives them a simple side control to start.
The hip switch to taking mount teaches them a proper way to mount, and once in mount, they learn either an americana or cross collar choke (dependant on whether they have a gi or not).
As you've surely noticed, all of these moves flow from one to the next, and it is through this that the white belt learns to actively advance position and ultimately submit their opponent. Escape, pass guard, advance positions and then submission. Position before submission.
I feel this is a great first lesson, and always encourage white belts to continually drill it, especially back and forth with another white belt. If they just got these basic moves down cold, they would lay a solid foundation on which most of the rest of BJJ would build on very well.
The reason I bring all of this up is because 1) I thought you might find it interesting to see what and why Gracie Barra teaches first, and 2) I'm interested in hear what your school teaches as its first lesson. I know different schools and different instructors have different approaches and moves they like to teach.
So, what's your first lesson and why?