In the first part of bjj beginner tips I explained some points that would help your motivation. In this part I am going to look at some of the more practical issues of training BJJ.
BJJ Beginner Tips Part 2
When you start training there are a few things that you will eventually pick up. However knowing these unsaid things will make mat life easier for you. There is no mat etiquette manual for white belts. In this part of BJJ Beginner Tips I am going to highlight a few of the main points that I think are helpful. They will save you some embarrassment. Plus knowing them will also set you apart from the other white belts.
Don’t try and invent an escape
You are going to end up in some really frustrating positions. Where your partner has you all tangled up and you have no idea what to do. DO NOT try and invent an escape by just exploding as hard as you can. This is rarely going to be effective. Usually it is also something very random and has little control. This is a sure fire way to someone getting injured. This is not a good thing at all. If you are really stuck and have absolutely no idea what to do next, just ask your training partner. Yes even if this is mid roll! This is the luxury of being a white belt. Be honest and tell your partner you have no idea how to escape. Most higher belts will be happy to explain the technique they are trying. If you are rolling with another white belt that equally has no idea what to do next, call over the coach and ask them.
Watch the strength
This follows on from the previous point. If you have a significant size difference over your partner, using your strength is tempting. This might get you the pass or escape but does not really help your learning. If your partner has a submission on and it feels tight just tap. Also just because you are “beating” higher grades does not mean you will get promoted quicker. Your coach Will have seen this before. It is improvement in technique that will move you through the grades.
Respect your gym
Cleanliness is an important part of BJJ. This is not just about your own personal hygiene but also at the gym. This means no footwear on the mats and if you leave the mats do not walk around bare foot. Especially if you are going to the toilet! No one wants whats on the toilet floor walked onto the mat they are about to roll on. This also means washing your training kit after every session. Airing it off does not count, that does not get rid of the nasties off the fabric. Wearing a stinky gi does not win you any friends at the club. So make sure you wash your kit. It is just a matter of respect.
If you are training at your club remember to tap. There is no benefit to getting choked unconscious or popping a joint. Most people will let go before it gets to this, but if you refuse to tap it really increases the possibility. As a new white belt remember tapping does not mean “losing”. Training in the gym is not a competition. Respecting your own health and your partner’s abilities is important. It will keep you safe and training.
Tap to learn
As a white belt whether you have been tapped by an ultra heavy weight or a feather weight, do not view it as something to be avenged. Everyone gets tapped. You are in the fortunate position that you can’t get tapped by a lower rank. This is the only time you will have this “freedom” in your BJJ journey. Take advantage of this and learn from every tap. If you don’t know what you did wrong just ask. Do not think that you must avenge your family’s honour for being tapped. Then go at your partner like it was the final of the World Championships. Someone will get hurt and it is lose lose for you. Either you get hurt, as your partner will amp up their response to your increased energy. You won’t know how to deal with what they are doing and will use strength to compensate.
As a new white belt, you are starting on a long path. A lot of references are made in the BJJ media about the journey. As the famous Chris Haueter says “It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left … You’re gonna be somewhere in ten years … Why not be a Black Belt too? You just can’t quit”. These wise words are very true, especially if you are an older grappler.