Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the most unintuitive sport you could take on. It is also one the most effective martial arts known to mankind. You should be sufficiently out of your comfort zone. The first couple months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are the most challenging. The first couple times on the mat will be a very very humbling experience. The upper belts and the other senior guys will have some sort of magical ability to stay three steps ahead of you. The head instructor might be too busy to give one on one time with you. So here are Jiu Jitsu white belt tips that all white belts should take to heart in their first month of the sport…
Jiu Jitsu white belt tips: Pick one move, make it yours
It’s most important for you as a beginner to focus in on one single offensive move. Let’s call this the alpha move. It can be any move. But you need to make this one move, your move. When the class is drilling technique you need to take every opportunity you can to drill your alpha. We say in BJJ that you need to practice the move 1000 times before you start doing it automatically. Maybe you’re the type of person that can master movement in under a thousand practices but for most of us; a thousand repetitions won’t hurt. You need to do this again and again until the movement requires zero thought. It would be helpful for you consider yourself the expert in your Jiu Jitsu school for this move.
Consider the example of tying your shoelaces. It is a very simple example, I know. When you were young you probably considered this a difficult task. The first couple times you tried it you probably went very very slowly. But after a couple months of practice, you can do it without thinking about it. Your first BJJ white belt moves will serve as a foundation for the rest of your career in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Jiu Jitsu white belt tips: Reaching competency
When I started, I loved side control. As a white belt, I could keep senior belt nailed to the ground. I used my shoulder to keep the downed opponent’s chin nailed to the mat. That was my alpha. This move still serves me today. You will know that your alpha move is effective when your opponents make supportive comments. You have your first building block in Jiu Jitsu and it is now time to expand your collection of moves (Or as we call it ‘Game’).
Here is some example of moves to develop based on major positions. Each one of the below moves is a great starting move for each of the major positions in BJJ.
- Toreando Guard Pass (My first move)
- Armbar from mount (Finishing move from mount)
- Paper Cutter (Finishing move from side control)
- Stack Pass (Guard pass from half guard)
- Jump Guard (takedown)
- Japanese arm spin (throw)
- Scissor sweep
Jiu Jitsu white belt tips: Pick your training partners
A black belt once told me: to develop your game you need to start practicing on guys you know you can finish your moves on. This sounds a little messed up but there is a good explanation. If you are going against athletes who can shut down 100% of your game you don’t learn anything. Nothing is learned from an ass kicking. Except maybe, that your opponent is a challenge you are not prepared to take it on yet. No worries, you will get there. But in the beginning, you will need to put aside the emotions and courage and work your techniques until you build experience and confidence in them.
Jiu Jitsu white belt tips: The ‘Choke Out’
You need to start building up your familiarity with jiu jitsu. And I’m not just talking about going on YouTube and watching a bunch of videos. First of all, there’s something very unique about getting choked out. The first couple times you get choked out an involuntary response will be triggered. This response is known as fight or flight. This is the caveman genetics bubbling up to the surface. You need to be able to control this emotional response. You need to develop the ability to see your game objectively. Any sort of emotional response on the mat will be an obstacle for your learning process. Only time and repetition will fix this. Remember don’t be a tough guy. It’s far better to tap out early and often rather than to go home hurt. Your main job here is to learn not send a message that you cannot be choked. That will come later.
Hope this helps in some fashion. Remember that Jiu Jitsu is not easy or simple. Stick with it. The rewards are not immediate but they are great. This will be a true test of who you are.