If you’re going through a bit of a frustrating time and you’re relatively new to BJJ (even if you’ve been training for a year or two, you have to realize that you’re relatively new in the grand scheme of things), here are some encouraging words for you.  This is the most exciting time in your jiu jitsu career in many ways, and it can be unbelievably liberating and fun- provided that you view things the right way.

  • Every training partner can and will help you grow and develop.  Stop what you’re doing for a minute and think about how amazing this is.  Every single time you roll, your training partner will present you with a formidable obstacle, no matter what their experience level.  With an open mind and a keen eye for learning, you will learn something every single time you roll!
  • You will prove to yourself that you can do things you never thought you could.  One of my students is a big guy by most standards- about 260 pounds, well over six feet tall.  He was intrigued by a particular movement that involved rolling over his shoulder and neck, and so he drilled it incessantly until he figured it out for his body.  Now he’s better at the movement than the majority of the little guys training with us!
  • Starting from the same place everyone else does gives you an appreciation for your training partners/instructors.  Remember the phrase:  “A black belt is a white belt who never quits training.”  Everyone started out as a brand new beginner at some point, and if you take a look around at your training partners who have come a long way, and at your instructor, who has undoubtedly performed feats that defy your mind at this time, you have to realize that these things are possible for you, and more- you can even surpass your instructors’ technical understanding one day (remember, they’re bringing years of mistakes they made, preventing you from making them, and adding their own personal approach to what they were taught).
  • You are going to lose… a LOT.  This will help you learn tremendously!  Because you’ll be tapped so much, you will learn what you’re doing wrong and what needs to change right away.  This can be one of the hardest sticking points for any white belt, but it’s also one of the most valuable lessons to learn.  If you can wrap your mind around the idea that getting tapped out while training is a very useful thing, you can progress by leaps and bounds.  Get rid of the tightness, let positions happen, and enjoy observing the mistakes you’re making.  One day- maybe very soon- you will be able to correct those mistakes.
  • There is no pressure when you’re a white belt.  When your’e a blue belt, you may feel obligated to roll at a certain level.  You’ll certainly think that you’re supposed to tap out the white belts, for the most part, when you get promoted.  In the meantime, enjoy the uninhibited, pure training that being a white belt provides!  There is no “target on your back.”  People aren’t especially gunning for you as they will be when you are eventually promoted.

Some of these bullet points will take you a while to fully appreciate, but some of them are likely to have already revealed themselves to you while training (assuming you have already started training!).  For instance, it may have already become quite evident that you are going to get your butt kicked nearly every time you step onto the mats to train (if you’re not getting beaten consistently, and you’re a white belt, you may seriously want to consider going to another gym!).  The “no pressure” one might take a belt promotion for you to really appreciate, but it’s just as valid as the others.

Enjoy this exciting time in your jiu jitsu career!