As the new year has started you may be considering starting BJJ or have just taken the plunge. But what are the things that you should know that no one ever actually tells you? I have pulled together some BJJ beginner tips from my own experience.
BJJ Beginner Tips
As a beginner in BJJ there are a lot of things to take on board that will help you train and improve. In Part 1 I will look at the things to keep you motivated in your first months of training. Part 2 will be more about the small things that help not only you, but your partners when you train. I hope these bjj beginner tips keep you involved and enjoying BJJ.
The Challenge of BJJ
Once you have finished you introduction classes armed with a basic understanding of BJJ, then the challenges start. You will be in a class with people with more experience than you. The most important thing to remember is that these people have been training longer than you. Accept that no matter the size or gender of these people they will be better than you at BJJ. This is where the “leave your ego at the door” advice comes in. Understand that you are highly unlikely to “win” against anyone, unless you’re strong or have had previous experience in grappling arts. This means just relax, no one has high expectations of you.
This acceptance helps with the thought that will keep running through your head. “Why do I keep going everyone just beats me up?” They are not beating you up, at this moment in time they know more jiu jitsu than you and knowledge is power in all things.(Cheesy but true).
Use your eyes
Once you accept that the people around you have more knowledge, this is where you start building yours. If you keep getting caught in a triangle or arm bar, what does your partner do just before they get it? You will have been taught triangles and armours in your beginners class. What you have to start doing is learning is in a roll how am I getting set up for these submissions? If before it goes on does the guy have grips on my sleeve and collar? Is this being used to pull me into the position? If you can recognise the set up, you can avoid or stop it. This isn’t a solution to everything, but it certainly helps. The best advice I was ever given was “In any roll as a beginner, don’t focus on winning. In each position focus on making it 5% better for you. As 5% better for you is 5% worse for the other guy. Then eventually those 5% will add up“.
Really listen to advice
If a higher belt offers you some advice listen! This can be hard especially if they have just tapped you. But ever higher belt was a white belt once. They can all appreciate how hard it is as a beginner. You have taken the big step to learn BJJ, which shows you have heart. Now they just want to keep you here and help you learn more. So any advice is for your benefit, take it with both hands and learn from it. Especially if there are the one that keeps catching you in a triangle!
Ultimately don’t be afraid to ask. If you are getting frustrated and don’t understand why something keeps happening, ask. There may be something small that you don’t even realise you are doing. Remember that old saying the only dumb question is the one not asked.(or something like that) Either ask the person that caught you or ask a higher belt after class.
Recognise little wins
Little wins will crop up all the time, you just have to recognise them when they do. So if you get tapped 5 times by purple belt A today, but next week its only 3 thats a little win. If you get caught with a submission and know what you did wrong to get caught. That’s another little win, as you are recognising your mistakes.
If you train a 100 times a year and just 1% better in each class, by the end of the year you’re 100% better!. Thats not an unrealistic thing to achieve. Finding that 1% and giving yourself credit for it, that’s the more difficult thing. Don’t be hard on yourself and look for that 1% after ever class.
I will cover some more bjj beginner tips in Part 2 of this article.