BJJ White Belt Tips: Top 3 tips according to Reddit

Originally published at GRAPPLING ADDICTION.

When I started training BJJ I desperately wanted to get some tips to know which direction my training should be heading. Was there something I should be doing that I wasn’t that would give me an advantage on the mats? There was so much information and I had no idea where to start. Thankfully, with the help of some more experienced grapplers, I was able to begin figuring out what I actually need to be doing. To save you some time, I have gathered Top 3 tips that will help any new BJJ white belt.

To help any new BJJ white belts out, I asked a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu community on Reddit what would they do differently, if anything, if they were white belts again. They gave me a plenty of answers and here are BJJ White Belt Top 3 Tips according to r/BJJ.

1. TAKEDOWNS

Kintanon (you can find his blog at: www.joshjitsu.info):

I’d learn some goddamn takedowns at the beginning instead of trying to staple them on at purple belt.

Despite BJJ originating from jujutsu and being a cousin to judo, throws and takedowns are no longer a big part of the martial art. As BJJ evolved, so did its groundwork. With the evolution came sport specific rules.

Photo by Flickr user Team Ironside

In competition, two points are awarded for a takedown, three points for a guard pass and four for getting a mount or a back-take position. As takedowns and throws are difficult to execute and are only worth two points, competitors often find it easier and faster to simply pull guard and start working on their “game” from the bottom.

BJJ is also considered to be a more “accessible” martial art to the general public as opposed to judo or wrestling were practitioners are usually younger and tend put more emphasis on athleticism and strength. Because of this, a trend has emerged where schools rarely teach how to effectively take a person to the ground to minimise any potential injuries. While sensible, this approach has created many grapplers that have excellent groundwork, but a terrible stand-up game.

If you’re still completely new (this actually applies to everyone who doesn’t have a stand-up game) and are looking what you could add to your game, learning at least a couple of takedowns is a solid choice. For self-defence, a takedown is probably the most important aspect. BJJ is still a martial art that is effective against attackers, so knowing how to execute a double leg takedown or a uchi mata throw may literally save your life.

As a white belt, knowing a takedown or two may also win you a match, so it is certainly a good idea to learn some “goddamn” takedowns at the beginning. Not only will you be ahead of the curve in competition at lower belts, but you will also be able to hold your ground against anyone who dares to attack you!

Stephen Kesting is a BJJ black belt and someone who has studied martial arts for over 30 years. In a video below you will find Stephan Kesting, Elliott Bayev and Ostap Manastyrsk at Open Mat MMA in Toronto, Canada, discussing the easiest takedowns for people to add to their games. It is a great video that I have watched many times. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone just starting Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or submission grappling.

2. COMPETE

Anthony126517:

I would compete a lot more at the White belt and Blue belt.

As someone who hates competing, this is a tip that I would give to new white belts as well. Although, I personally find competing to be terrifying and anxiety it gives me makes me wonder if it is worth my time and effort, competitions always make me a better grappler.

Competing makes you motivated. As already discussed, motivation is a huge part of training. It is the reason why you step on the mats and keep going. If after training for a few months you start wondering what is the point of all this training, try competing. It is an excellent extrinsic motivator and will make you even more passionate about BJJ.

Competitions also make your BJJ honest. Training at the gym, while may be physically demanding, is not as intense as competing. No one, hopefully, tries to actually choke you out or break your arm. No one truly smashes you 100%. You respond in kind and your training suffers.

At the gym, you can experiment, try crazy flying gogoplatas, but it is not how you would compete. Competing shows you what techniques work for you and which ones do not. If you think that giving up positions is not that bad, because you have gotten used to being in bottom side control, try doing it at a competition. It is not as comfortable!

Competing at white or blue belt level also gives you a chance to experience everything a sport of BJJ has to offer with a low barrier of entry. If you do not compete at white and blue belt levels, starting at purple will be considerably much harder. Purple belt is considered an “advanced” level and most people who compete at that experience level have probably been competing for a while and probably have much more experience. Therefore, your first competition would be much more difficult than it would have been at the white or blue belt.

Competing also makes you focused. I have already written how to get better at BJJ faster with focused training. The competition will expose your weaknesses and strengths and you will be able to use those to plan your training. Do you suck at passing? Is your sweep from X-guard only effective against smaller people? All of this will get exposed in competition and you will be forced to rectify those deficiencies.

A few years ago I competed at my first tournament where all leglocks were allowed. Having never trained leg locks properly I lost my first match within a minute via a kneebar. It was an eye-opening experience, which forced me to rectify a glaring hole in my game. I have worked on leglocks for several years and now my favourite submission is now a leglock.

Below is a video of Marcelo Garcia, arguably the greatest grappler of all-time, giving his tips to new BJJ white belts about learning techniques and competing at white belt level.

3. YOGA AND MOBILITY

tallj:

Yoga and mobility work. The earlier you begin with prevention of injury the better.

As a completely new white belt, you have probably immersed yourself into learning Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fully and are training any chance you can. That is great news! Hopefully, you have also read how to train to become better at BJJ faster and train with a plan in mind.

Unfortunately, training a lot of BJJ without any supplementary training to become stronger, more flexible and more mobile will get you injured. As someone who is currently sitting with a sore neck after a gorilla-sized opponent sprawled onto my head in competition, I can definitely say that I should have started yoga sooner.

Yoga is an umbrella term for religion, philosophy, and physical, mental and spiritual practices. When you hear someone mentioning that they “do yoga” they probably mean physical exercise where they stretch and breathe rather than a 5000-year-old Indian philosophy.

There are many benefits of yoga:

  • Flexibility. This is an obvious one. When you first start doing yoga you will probably not be able to even touch your toes, but with practice, this will improve. Being flexible will help you with those aches you may have. Having tight hamstrings and hips may be the reason why your knees or lower back aches. Doing a quick flow after training will definitely help you feel fresher in the morning and not as sore.
  • Strength. This may not be as obvious as flexibility, but doing yoga will make you stronger. Although you will not look shredded just from yoga, your static strength will improve. Your core will also be rock solid, which in turn will make you more resilient to injuries. It will also allow you to generate more power with your arms and legs.
  • Balance. This one is very important. Be honest with yourself, how good is your base? Are you being swept a bit too easily? One-legged poses will make you wobble during practice, but your training partners will certainly notice that it is much harder to sweep you. You will also be able to dance around your opponents’ guard.
  • Improved breathing. Yoga improves your breathing, which increases your lung capacity and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max). This means that those breathing exercises you do while doing yoga improves your aerobic physical fitness. In other words, it improves your endurance. It also teaches you how to breathe when you are in a tight spot. You will no longer hold your breath in bottom side control. With proper breathing, you will be able to relax, think more clearly and not tire yourself.

The best resource that I was able to find and still continue to use to this day is YogaforBJJ. Below is a video that gives you a great basic flow that you can start using today.

So, here you go. If you have just started training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or submission grappling and are looking for some tips from people who have been training for a while, follow their advice:

  1. Train takedowns
  2. Do some yoga or mobility work
  3. Compete

If you do that, you will see yourself becoming a better grappler with a complete game and an ability to hit people with a planet. You will also be much more resilient to injuries.

In the meantime, do not forget about the importance of having a healthy diet, not eating sugar and working on your conditioning.

If you have been training for a while, what are your tips to new white belts? Alternatively, if you have just started training, what tips have you been given by more experienced grapplers?

April 12, 2017/ Ilja/


Originally published at www.grapplingaddiction.com.