White belts who have just started or have only begun dipping their toes in jiu jitsu –this one’s for you! If this is your first few months and you’re still learning but confidence is building, that’s great! But in the following blog, we’ll explain the importance of realizing that jiu jitsu is a marathon not a sprint, and some errors that you’ll want to avoid as you’re beginning your journey….
Starting with quite a naïve but also dangerous habit some white belts have lunging into submission in sparring/drilling. This flaw will not only annoy those around you, but it will also lead to people avoiding you when in the gym. Rushing learning submissions will not only slow the rate at which you will learn the move, but also most likely result in something hyperextending your opponent’s limbs or worse. You’re almost certainly not doing this maliciously as learning submissions as a beginner and trying to remember everything that you’ve just been shown can naturally lead to rushing and making sure you’ve performed it correct. But relax, take a breath. If you’re not sure just wait and put your hand up and wait for your coach to help! Performing submissions in a slow and controlled manner will solve these issues will not only benefit you but also your training partners.
Naturally, as you progress in jiu jitsu, your confidence will build, and you’ll feel comfortable trying new techniques. This will have sporadic success amongst fellow white belts where you’re both ‘spazzing’ out (spazzing is a colloquial term amongst the jiu jitsu community for those who aren’t in control of themselves on the mat, it’s not the derogatory term known to the wider public!). However, trying to go 350% against higher belts and fighting to the death would be a futile exercise. Higher belts have a wealth of experience and will likely know the move you’re about to try before you even do it. That’s not to say you can’t give you’re all against these people, but try to not be over aggressive, otherwise you’ll end up on bottom for the whole round with nothing.
Following on from lunging into submissions, this is not what the focus should be for a white belt. You need to be focusing on survival. Trying to master chokes and arm bars first won’t be useful when you’re stuck with someone glued to your back or inside someone’s guard. Focus on the four basic positions of side control, mount, back, and the guard. Learning to survive these positions and delay the submission is the first step. These basic positions will serve as the foundation for the rest of your time in jiu jitsu, so it’s vital to have these core positions down. If you’re a bit of a book worm, a great read that back up this tip is ‘Jiu Jitsu University’ by Saulo Ribeiro. The chapters are spread over the different belts and the book emphasises how white belt is all about survival. A great read for any practitioner of any belt colour for that matter!
There’s nothing wrong with helping your fellow white belts along the way, but don’t be that person to try and teach others a new move or tell them where they’re going wrong. Leave the teaching up to the coach or the much higher belts. Realistically, the chances that you’re teaching it wrong are going to be high and it will result in your training partner either developing bad technique or injuring another person when it comes to sparring. We don’t want that. Maybe a pointer or two here and there would be OK but try and understand this isn’t your field of expertise yet. If you are directly asked by someone else how to do it, be honest! Tell them you have an idea, but you wouldn’t want to share as it might be wrong and get your coach to come over and show them where you’re both struggling, and they’ll help you out (it’s their job to of course!).
We hope you find these tips useful and take them on board as you’ll find they’ll serve you well on your journey to becoming a black belt. As we’ve mentioned in other blogs, there’s no end point in jiu jitsu so trying to rush to a finish line that isn’t there will only demotivate you! If you feel this is happening to you at the moment, take a step back and in enjoy the jiu jitsu journey.
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