Recently I’ve done some reading in the champion’s mindset and how to improve my mental game regarding Jiu Jitsu. I think it has helped me quite a lot, so I was thinking what type of mindset white belts should have in their training. I’ve put together some things that will help them start the journey that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
It’s tempting but try not to make your goal your next promotion. The reason for this is because you may think you’re ready for it, but when it doesn’t come, that can be very discouraging and cause frustration. Leave the promotions to your instructor; let them decide when you’re ready and take the pressure of yourself. Instead set your goals in something you can control. If you can attend three classes a week, make it to those three classes and be ready to learn. If you want to focus on the techniques learned in class, another option is trying to take away one new detail every class you attend.
Learn how to use your body for Jiu Jitsu. Practice the basic movements of Jiu Jitsu: the forward/backward roll, shrimps, break-falls, and bridging. These skills are going to be essential throughout your Jiu Jitsu journey. They are the building blocks of the martial art which lead to all the techniques in BJJ. Also, learning these movements will help by understanding the concepts behind those techniques.
Along with the basic movements, focus on developing a good base. What I mean is a platform to apply and absorb force. With a good base, it’ll be hard for your opponent to push and pull you, but that’s only part of the equation. The other half is being able to move your opponent when they don’t want you too. With a proper base you are the unstoppable force and the immovable object. You’ll be in different positions throughout rolls and finding the proper base for you will lead to more success overall.
One of the most important things to think about is the idea of position over submission. If you go for a submission haphazardly, without a base or proper positioning, your submission attempt will be much more low percentage. Also, if you don’t understand what you are doing to your opponent it’s much easier for an injury to occur. Without training partners, we can’t train, so keep that in mind. Focus on learning each core position and how to hold them first, the submissions will come.
At white belt survivability is necessary to learn and grow. In the beginning you may find yourself in uncomfortable spots and panic and that’s okay. Learn to control your panic to thrive in these spots by focusing on building up your defense. The more you defend the longer the role, gaining experience along the way. Also, defending leads to opportunities to turn the tide and gain an offensive position. No one is a defense master right out of the gate, but don’t get discouraged when you get caught. Learn from where it happened so you’re better prepared for the next round.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. This is something I had a lot of trouble with in the beginning. I felt like my questions were too dumb to deserve an answer, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your instructor is there to impart their knowledge to you so don’t be afraid to speak up if you end up in a spot you can’t figure out how to get out of. They’ve been there before and most likely will have an answer that will blow your mind. Our instructors want us to grow in the art, they are an invaluable resource, use them.