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White Belts Woes: 5 Tips For Stepping Onto The Mats

Posted by James Tighe on
White Belts Woes: 5 Tips For Stepping Onto The Mats

So, you decided to catch the latest Joe Rogan podcast or stayed up late for the UFC and thought rolling on the ground choking someone unconscious looked fun. You were right. But joking aside, Brazilian Jiujitsu (or BJJ) is much more than just choking out an opponent; it’s a deeply complex game of chess where progression and development never truly end (not too dissimilar to life). If this is the start of your journey, here are five tips to make the trip a little smoother….

Tip 1: Embrace The Chaos

If it’s your first time showing up at a BJJ gym, it can sometimes feel a little intimidating, but the reality is that it’s all in your head. Everyone was where you were at some point, and a good  Jiu Jitsu gym will take you under their wing. You’re almost definitely going to get stuff wrong, and when rolling (also known as sparring in the world of Jiu Jitsu) starts, you won’t have a clue what’s happening. That’s ok; you’re not supposed to. It’ll take a few months to truly get in the swing of things and accept you’re going to be the nail, but one day, you’ll be the hammer! Just always make sure to enjoy the process as you being your Jiu Jitsu journey.

owen looking serious

Tip 2: Compare You To You

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

Although I doubt Theodore was referring to his friends being able to hit a scissor sweep in half the time it took him, the point still stands: Try to not compare yourself to others. Every person’s Jiu Jitsu  journey is unique, with loads of external factors influencing how often people can train. It can feel a little demoralising seeing those who joined after or at the same time as you, earning their stripes and winning tournaments whilst you’re still trying to figure out guard passing, but don’t compare yourself to them. Compare you to you six months ago. The results will be stark. Further, don’t chase the belts; chase the techniques. Jiu Jitsu is a lifelong learning process once you take the first step.

Tip 3: Wash Your Gi

An underrated but essential tip. Please, please, please don’t be that person that rocks up to the Jiu Jitsu gym in the same, unwashed gi as the day before. It’s not fun for your training partners, and word (and smell) gets around fast. Understandably, it can be a big commitment to buy two gis before trying Jiu Jitsu, so buy one and get a wash in between training. Also, trim your nails. Long nails can cut and hurt your training partners in rolling, so good general hygiene goes a long way. If you are looking to get a good starter Gi, here are a couple to choose from to kick you off.

Tip 4: Roll Hard and With Everyone

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Consistency is the secret to success for improvement. That is no different in Jiu Jitsu. Training hard, often and with everyone in your BJJ gym to make rapid progress. Having other commitments outside of Jiu Jitsu is normal but attending 2-3 lessons a week is a good equilibrium between development and recovery. If you feel you can train more, train!

When it comes to rolling with everyone in your gym, as a sign of respect, some gyms usually request that you don’t ask higher belts to roll and let them ask you. If you’re struggling to keep up the motivation, stay tuned for more blog posts on the subject.

Tip 5: Leave (Most) Of Your Ego At The Door

Having an ego usually has negative connotations of being arrogant and abrasive. But on the flip side, an ego can help you be more determined and stay resilient. When you first start Jiu Jitsu, above all, know to tap when it hurts. Battling your ego and rolling with another white belt is an injury waiting to happen. Don’t be afraid to tap – what’s the big deal? You reset and go again. There’s nothing wrong with tapping. But there are times, for example, in competition, an ego could help be the difference between escaping a submission and losing. So having an ego isn’t bad, but keeping it in check, especially when training, will serve you well.



Jiu Jitsu is loved by many who join, so there’s no surprise that it’s the fastest-growing martial art. If you love it too, great. If not, that’s ok! Not everything is made for some people, and many gyms now offer free trial weeks so you can make that decision yourself. Just remember, it’s supposed to be fun, and if you’re doing that, you’ll keep coming back.

Happy rolling.

-Team Progress Jiu Jitsu


More Blog Posts:

Athlete Spotlight | Junior Fernandes 

Catch Up With Ffion Davies

Athlete Spotlight | Tarik Hopstock



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