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What should a BJJ White Belt focus on?

Starting any new sport, hobby or interest is an avalanche of information.

When it comes to BJJ, the learning curve is a steep one. Your first few weeks will see you learn an incredible amount of information, from the fundamentals to simply remembering people’s names.

As the weeks go by though, the initial tsunami of info will recede, leaving you with areas you need to focus on.

We’ve picked out 4 parts of your Jiu Jitsu game which you should focus on as a BJJ white belt.


Ok, we admit this is easier said than done.

Starting out in a contact sport for the first time can be stressful. Starting in a martial art can be nerve-racking. It’s not your fault, it’s a natural response – the body’s fight or flight mode.

But learning to relax and breathe is one of the biggest differences between belts, and the quicker you learn to relax, the faster you’ll improve.

If you can’t relax while rolling, if you’re tense and stiff, then not only will you tire quicker, but you open yourself to injuries.

The more relaxed you are, the more you’re able to think, and BJJ is all about planning ahead.

Most white belts go full throttle, and it’s known in the sport as “spazzing”, but everyone grows out of it eventually!

Practice the move, not strength or speed

Jiu Jitusu is called the gentle art, and for good reason. It was designed for smaller, weaker people to defend against larger, stronger attackers.

The mistake a typical new BJJ white belt makes is to try and use their strength and/or speed to defeat an opponent. Being able to perform a move smoothly is more important that simply forcing a move through brute strength.

Technique is more important that strength, which is why you see so many smaller opponents tap larger ones in this sport.

Remember, if you can do it slowly, you can do it fast. The trick is to learn how to do it slowly first!

Compare yourself to you yesterday, not others today

Like anything in life, you will make progress if you practice often enough, and BJJ is no different. The problem is, it’s sometimes hard to see the progress being made.

“Well this guy tapped me out, but it was close, so I think in a couple of months I should be able to take him…” The problem is, that guy has also gotten better in those couple of months! If everyone around you at your club is progressing, then there’s no point comparing yourself to them.

What you can do however is compare yourself to YOU.

Think about where you were when you first started. Remember how a single minute on the mats felt like an hour. Remember how exhausted you were. Remember how sore you were the next day.

Now think about where you are. You can easily go 5 minutes on the mats. Those aches and pains no longer appear the next day. You know why? Because you’re getting better. You’re getting fitter. You’re controlling your breathing more.

Because you’re progressing.

Just imagine where you’ll be a year from now.

Put the hours in

Of course, all of this is for nothing if you don’t put the work in.

Consistency is the key. If you can only make it to class once a week, then make sure you GO once a week. If you can go every day, then GO every day. Get used to the routine, let your body adapt to it.

Repetition ingrains the moves and techniques in your mind and body so you don’t have to think about them when you need them. Muscle memory will take over if you practice enough.

Ideally, you should be training 2-3 times per week if your schedule allows it. If not, then when you do attend class, do as much as possible. Stay after and do some sparring. Ask questions. Watch higher belts than you roll and ask if you can join them.

No one ever got good at anything without practice.

Except Mozart.

But he couldn’t fight for shit.