There is a saying in Bjj that Black Belts are just White Belts that never quit. Ask any Bjj master and they will verify that statement. White belt is potentially the most important period of growth for a student. In some academies, students are left to their own devices to figure out the structure and process. Others may have rules or guidelines to follow and adhere to. Throughout my white belt days, I was given nuggets of information from my coaches which changed the way I looked at and approached the sport. Simple but effective, I have outlined the most important points and Advice for White Belts below.
Advice for White Belts
This is something that you hear over and over again in Bjj. Getting submitted is a truly humbling experience. As a white belt, this happens a lot. It is important when starting out that you don’t take a submission personally. Additionally, when you get a submission, it is important not to get cocky. No matter what your ability, Bjj is a sport of peaks and troughs. Even the most experienced students will find their match eventually. Not only will these negative attitudes stunt your growth as an athlete, they will also turn your teammates against you. Nobody likes to train with a cocky or fired up partner. Always be aware of your attitude in training because it may lead to a lack of partners.
Consistency makes black belts. Bjj is a sport where strength and talent will only take you so far. The most important key to progression is consistency in training. Consistent training (i.e. 3-4 times per week) is a way to ensure that you are comfortable in what you are learning and that you can absorb everything that is being taught. Another important component to consistency is that you come up against different opponents. These different opponents offer various strengths and weaknesses. Training against the same partner in the same session every week can only get you so far especially at lower belt levels. Aim to train with people of your ability and those better and worse than you.
Don’t Overload Information
A commons error I made was watching every YouTube video on every technique available. Whilst these videos are an incredible resource, watching too many can result in you not absorbing any information. This advise became a huge part of my development. Instead of watching 10 videos before training, I would watch one video several times. This allowed me to take in every aspect of the technique instead of taking the coolest parts of each video. This makes sense as you have never gone to class with the instructor trying to teach 10 techniques in one class. I was advised early on to focus on the weekly, class theme in class and add in one or two external techniques.
Focus on What You’re Learning
This is as important for white belts as it is for any other level. It is crucial to practice what you are learning in class. Too often, I would fall back on my strong closed guard and neglect other aspects of my game that needed work. For true beginners, these is essentially enforced as you don’t have anything to fall back on. It is important, as you progress to work on this week technique and last week’s technique and whatever you were learning a month ago too. Keeping a healthy variation in your training adds to your repertoire which becomes crucial as you progress from white belt.