Starting out on your jiu-jitsu journey can be daunting. As with any new skill, there is a lot going on when you first step foot inside the door. Much of the information you see in class may pass over your head as you are feeling out a new environment. This is completely normal. There is much to learn in jiu-jitsu. This will work to your advantage as there are so many elements that can be broken down into manageable portions. There is no rush to be the best in BJJ. Progression will take time, effort, and an intelligent approach to training. I have outlined 3 of the most important tips I learned early on in my training.
Important and Essential Tips for new White Belts
Don’t Overload Information
When you are starting out, there are so many things to learn. The key to progression is picking some of those things and getting very comfortable with them. My coach encouraged me to choose 1 each of submission, a sweep, a guard pass, and a guard to become familiar with. In my case, I chose the bow and arrow choke, the scissors sweep, the knee cut pass, and the closed guard. Over time, I learned other positions in class but would continue to improve these techniques. This taught me two important points. Firstly, I was able to think through each of the techniques clearly when there was nothing to distract from them. Secondly, I learned the nuances of each technique which fed into my understanding of more advanced techniques. Keep it simple and don’t overdo it on the techniques.
Take Your Time
Rushing through techniques is a big issue for many white belts. There is a tendency not to rely on technique but try to struggle through instead. The issue with this is that your progression will suffer in the long run. My first coach was adamant that introduction classes were taken at a slow pace with far more focus on drilling than sparring. Initially, it was frustrating to drill repeatedly with my partner. When rolling with better grapplers, however, I soon realized that better technique means better jiu-jitsu and the only way of achieving this is by slowing your training down and absorbing all of the nuances of a technique. When you look at some of the highest levels of BJJ, you notice that nobody is in a rush. An excellent example of this is Royce Gracie in the early days of the UFC. Even though he had a superior grappling ability to his opponents, every move was thought out technique-oriented. Taking your time to understand a technique now, will allow you to become faster and more efficient in the future which is one of the Essential Tips for new White Belts.
Train with Different Partners
When it comes to progressing in Bjj, I would argue that varying your training partners is the most important aspect. Each person in your academy will have different strengths and weaknesses. Training with different people forces you to work on different techniques and different approaches to those techniques. As well as ability levels, different training partners will provide different body types to work against. Working with short, tall, light, or heavy partners will enable you to understand your techniques even more. When you get to a sparring block in your class, try to spar with a different person every round.