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7 Things I Wish I Knew When Starting BJJ

As a white belt, the trail ahead seems endless. Beginning your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey, the learning curve feels incredibly steep. You're bombarded with new movements, positions, techniques, lingo - an entire world of controlled chaos. Those first few months are overwhelming, filled with getting smashed, tapped, and utter confusion on the mats. However, I assure you that pushing through these early challenges is enormously rewarding for your body, mind and life.

As a fresh white belt, patience and consistency are paramount. Progress in BJJ is glacially slow - celebrate small victories, and trust that techniques which seem inscrutable now will eventually click through diligent repetition. Don't be disheartened spending months simply trying to survive being mounted or passed. Mastering defensive positions and postures builds invaluable habits.

Having persevered through the grueling white belt stage myself, I can attest that the journey is well worth the struggle. BJJ provides incredible benefits, but they aren't easily earned. If I could go back, here are 7 pieces of advice for my white belt self:

1.) Tap Early, Tap Often: Leave your ego at the door. You will get caught in submissions constantly. Tap quickly to avoid injury and reset. There's no shame in tapping, even to lower belts. Protect your body.

2.) Develop a Concept, Not a Technique: In the beginning, trying to learn each position's 20 different submissions is futile. Focus first on core concepts like grip fighting, base, frames, and hip movement.

3.) Don't Bypass Fundamentals: The basics like shrimping, bridging, and technical standup may seem rudimentary, but they are the foundation. Nail these first.

4.) Be a Sponge: The upper belts have logged thousands of hours on these mats. Soak up everything they show and say. Take notes, ask questions, and be a diligent student.

5.) Find Your Pace: Going too hard too soon leads to burnout and injury. Pace yourself, focusing on long-term consistency over short periods of intensity.

6.) Fuel Your Body Right: Proper nutrition and hydration are critical for recovery and performance. Focus on whole foods, quality protein, complex carbs, fruits/veggies and stay hydrated.

7.) Patience and Persistence: Progress in BJJ is very slow and non-linear. There will be plateaus that last months. Celebrate small wins, trust the process, and keep showing up.

Those first few ranks are a gauntlet. But staying humble, obsessed with the fundamentals, and exercising intelligent persistence will see you through to the other side as a well-rounded grappler.



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