In this article, we explore ‘How to get a blue belt in BJJ‘. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a difficult and unintuitive sport. Unless you did Judo or Wrestling before you really cannot compare it to anything you have done before. Without some proper coaching, you can spend years at white belt. It is very easy to make mistakes in this sport. Read this article to streamline your promotion. This is not a list of hacks or loopholes in your Jiu-Jitsu blue belt. Unfortunately, There is no short road. So tighten your belt and prepare for work!
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Mindset
Start by doing yourself a favor and remove the word ‘failure’ from your vocabulary. Instead when you do not reach your desired outcome what you are going to receive is ‘feedback.’ Failure is a human invention to help describe the outcome that has not yet reached its final state. High functioning people will always opt for feedback on failure. By changing this perception, you give yourself a to-do list instead of giving power to that voice that attempts to tear you down.
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Quick Do’s and Don’ts
- Make more than 3 days of practice per week. Do more if possible.
- Drill, drill and drill some more.
- Roll with the toughest opponents you can find. When you lose, ask how you can improve.
- Try to do 2 – 3 tournaments. You don’t have to do masters. But do some tourneys you can learn from.
- Eat some vegetables. Eat healthily. You should do this anyway.
- Develop a ‘game plan’ of your favorite moves. Make certain you have at least one move per position. Write it down.
- Meditate on Jiu Jitsu. This means when you have a quiet moment think about your jits moves. This is a good activity when you get injured and cannot be on the mat.
- Ask your instructor when you will get promoted. This shows too much focus on the belt as opposed to the skill.
- Practice with people you can beat all the time. Challenge yourself.
- Make excuses for a bad roll. Accept that you need to make changes.
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Control your Breathing
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu simulates combat. The first couple times you come in contact with your opponent you will feel your adrenaline kick in. Your fight or flight responses will be initiated. You will lose some control of your reactions. You might even fail or kick. Your job is to overcome these responses.
You need to develop a calmness to be effective in Jiu Jitsu. Your mind needs to be present and in control. In your first matches, you will find that your lungs get spent quickly as well. You might even hyperventilate due to your body working hard. It’s totally common. The bigger problem is that if you work too hard for moves then you expend the oxygen in your blood. You breathe hard to replenish your blood. You push past a point of loss of control for your breathing. And then you get caught in a vicious spiral when you keep making mistakes until you eventually get tapped out. You want to develop a cadence to your breathing that is not too stressful. If you can watch some of the upper brown and black belts you will notice that they barely breathe. We have an article on the subject of breathing here.
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Build an Offensive Game
First, you will need to define your first line of offensive moves. This will be a short collection of chronological moves that will guide you to a win. It can be something simple like standing guard pull to scissor sweep to finish with a paper cutter. This first line of moves should take you from the neutral standing position to a finish. You will have to apply these moves many many times until you body starts doing them automatically. Your end goal is to perform moves from your kinetic memory or the side of your brain that doesn’t actively think about how to perform a task.
Don’t worry about doing fancy advanced moves at this point. No one is expecting this from you. That expectation will come much later. For now, you are just getting familiar with jiu-jitsu. Getting this first line of offensive moves will be an important tool that you will return to again and again. When the line of moves does not work ask for feedback from your opponent. This will be an essential process to develop. Jiu-Jitsu forces you to look hard at your shortcomings. Get comfortable with this. As we say in BJJ, ‘Check your ego at the door’.
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Defensive Game
Building your defensive game will make less sense at times. It will be a game of reacting to the opponents in front of you. It will feel more like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ or ‘Edge of Tomorrow’. Take your pick. It will most likely feel like a series of unrelated mistakes. The best advice I can give here is failing fast and often but take something away from each ‘teaching moment’. Pull your opponents to the side after the match and ask them what you could have done better. If they are good at this process they can pinpoint your first error and give you direction on how to improve your position or stance.
How to get a blue belt in BJJ: Intensity
All too often, the proper mental training gets pushed to the side. The expectation is that the individual student understands intensity ahead of time. But I think it warrants a mention. Your intensity to win should be like that of a swimmer who went too deep and is trying to get to the surface because their air is running dangerously low. That swimmer will do anything to get themselves closer to the surface. This is the sense of intensity that you need to cultivate.
Lastly, Combine these tips with showing up to practice no less than 3 times a week and you should be well on your way to getting your blue belt. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a difficult and unintuitive sport. But when you get the hang of it, it is like having superpowers. Your journey will be peppered with hardship. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of those things in life that has no consolation prizes. It is a hard teacher of life. Your progress will be measured in very small increments. Adjusting your expectations will help set the proper frame of mind. Best of luck.