Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most challenging martial arts. It takes years of hard training and dedication to achieve a black belt. Most won’t get there.
Across all BJJ academies, it is widely known that blue belt has the highest dropout rate of all the ranks. People can start to see diminishing returns after blue belt and may think the road ahead is too long, others may think they’ve learned enough to handle themselves on the street or against their friends. The saying we hear people say a lot is “A black belt is a white belt who never quit” the underlying meaning behind this statement is that the ranks don’t matter and the road to black belt is the same for everyone.
The best piece of advice I could give to keep your training fun and progressing is to try your hand at competition. Competition Jiu Jitsu is great for seeing progression and learning from your mistakes. It also gives your short term goals to achieve in your rank and beyond.
Don’t get ahead of yourself
When starting in BJJ you will likely be restricted or at least advised to go to the beginner classes at your gym. It’s important to do this at the beginning so you can have training partners of similar ability and learn techniques that are going to be most valuable to you in the early stages.
Progressing onto techniques above your ability is great at a point but not when you are first starting. Listen to your instructor or and learn the basics.
You will find out later on that the basics you learn at the start will end to be some of your favorite moves and be the most satisfying to pull off.
Having the ability to relax when training Jiu Jitsu is the best skill you can have. It isn’t easy and it’s almost impossible to teach. Having the ability to relax allows you to be able to think more clearly, train longer and, learn more!
When you can relax you can see what your opponent is trying to do, this gives you the ability to wait and counter-attack rather than trying to force your will on everyone. Being able to relax only comes from being comfortable in certain positions and knowing when you are in danger and when you aren’t.
Have you ever rolled with a black belt and you think you’re about to submit them but realize they are just lying there with a smile on their face? This is because they know something is wrong with your submission attempt and they aren’t in trouble so they can relax.
Try to focus on relaxing in dominant positions first such as the mount and back mount. Think about what your opponent can do to escape, not so much what you can do to submit, focus on holding the poison as long as you can.
Don’t be afraid to lose
Tapping out is the hardest thing to do in BJJ for a lot of people, though it should be the easiest. Don’t see tapping out as a loss. It’s a mistake you made and can learn from. If someone gets you with a submission that you haven’t seen before that’s great! Ask them what it was and what you can do next time to avoid it.
Getting swept, passed, or having your back taken in training might feel like it sucks at the time but wait until you get passed in a tournament and lose the fight by 2 points. Make as many mistakes as you can in the gym.
Don’t be shy, ask the question.
Chances are if you think it's a dumb question, someone else is probably hoping you ask it so they don’t have to. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class. If you’re training with a higher belt and they did something you weren’t sure about, wait till after the round and ask them what it was. It’s the responsibility of a higher belt to help you out so don’t worry, they will be happy to help. Ask as many questions as you can.