5 things I wish I knew as a white belt

When you start a new sport, you may get bombarded with information and don’t know what to listen to. Or sometimes information just passes by you completely and you are left in the dark. This article is about the important things I wish I knew when I was a white belt that I know now as a purple belt.

1. Enjoy being a beginner.

At first it may feel strange being a beginner, especially as an adult. Most things we do, we have done for years, so to start something new feels weird. I know for me coming from a Judo background being a coach to being a beginner on the mats was a feeling I needed to get used to. For the first 6 months I needed to realise I couldn’t roll onto my front to defend and I didn’t need to go at a million miles per hour. I could take my time to think and learn the new techniques.
When you’re first starting out remember to ask lots of questions to the higher belts and your coach, ensure you’re doing the techniques right and focus on the fundamentals. There is no point trying to implement some crazy shit you found on youtube ten minutes before class. Thats a fast way for either you or your training partner to get injured. Just try to focus in class and absorb as much knowledge as possible.

2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Unfortunately in Jiu-Jitsu you will find yourself in many positions that your body is not usually in. You will get squashed, thrown about and twisted, but that is all part of the fun. Don’t get frustrated when you’re in a position which you feel that you not in control of. Trust your training partners and learn to relax and breathe when you are in sticky situations. This will benefit you massively in the long run. If every time someone passes your guard, gets side control or even mount, you get super frustrated and angry at your opponent. You will waste a lot of energy bucking about and trying to strength them off you. This will also open up opportunities for your opponent to submit you. The best thing to when you find yourself somewhere you don’t really want to be is to stay calm, remember to breathe and try to implement the escape you have been taught. If you haven’t been taught an escape yet and you are rolling with a higher belt, you can always ask them to quickly show you an escape from that position at the end of your roll, and they should be happy to oblige.

3. Be patient

Whether you are a white belt who has just started or you have been training a year, be patient with the process. Unless you are some freak of nature, you are not going to be amazing straight away. No one can be. But what you can do is make it to practice as much as possible, train as often as you can. The more time on the mat you put in will significantly improve your progress rate. Even if you are just a hobbyist doing it for the fun, coming once a week, you will see very little improvement and over time get bored. If you can, try to come at least three times a week to see your techniques improve.

4. Be friendly

Jiu-Jitsu is not just about the sport, when you join an academy they are a community, a family and a support system. Be open and friendly with your training partners as you’re be spending a lot of time with them. They will help you progress and in turn you will help them. They are not your opponents in a competition so don’t treat them like they are. Don’t rip that submission on or crank their neck, as you will soon find yourself to be the one left out when it comes to rolling, with people avoiding eye contact as you’re known as the person who hurts others in the gym. Once you have gained control of your own body when you’re rolling, then learn to match the pace of your training partner in rolling. Respect their injuries, size and age. If you’re a bigger person try to not use all your strength and weight when you’re going with someone smaller. Enjoy using new techniques and flow rolling. The training room is time for everyone to improve and you will soon learn who you can 100% on and who you need to be a little gentler with to have a great session.

5. Compete for you

Remember this is your journey. If you think you’re ready to compete and want to go down that path (also totally fine if you do not want to compete at this belt or ever). Just ask your coach first before you throw yourself in the deep end and then try to remember when competing that no one cares about the outcome except you! Try to take the pressure off yourself and enjoy the competition because win or lose, when you go back to work or training the next day, people who you have told may talk to you about it but everyone else wont. And the people who do, would off forgotten by the next day. This is your journey and you can of course be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t stress if you didn’t win that gold medal, or you lost in the first 30 seconds. Competitions are tough, especially at white and blue belt, as the level gap between competitors can be huge. You could be doing Jiu-Jitsu a few months and think your ready for competing. Then be matched up against a white belt who has been competing for 2 years, and they just do a move that you’ve never even seen before. This is not your fault and don’t get disheartened, they have just been training longer and have had more opportunity to learn more. Competitions are all about gaining experience and giving yourself an opportunity to test yourself against people your ability and weight. As you may not have anyone from your gym who matches this. I personally think competing at all levels enhances your improvements greatly. As you learn so much you can take forward from all your opponents different fighting styles.

Hopefully this article helps some of the beginners of Jiu-jitsu find their feet and enjoy training. Let me know in the comments below if you have found this helpful or if your a higher belt what other things would you would recommend for white belts first starting out?