Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), which teaches participants to defeat their opponents through chokes and painful submissions, can be a challenging and intellectually engaging sport. White belts are the lowest-ranking participants and are still learning the basics of BJJ. Mastering a few basic skills, understanding proper BJJ etiquette and learning from both your instructors and your peers can all help you progress faster and become a stellar martial artist.
Hygiene is an important part of good BJJ etiquette because you'll be getting very close to your opponents. Wear deodorant and wash your gi after every class. If you're sick or have a rash, stay away from class until it's cleared up. Don't take defeats during practice sessions personally. Instead, focus on what you can learn from your opponent. It's also considered good etiquette to tap when you're in a choke or submission during training instead of allowing your opponent to injure you. It can be frustrating to be submitted, but admitting defeat and abandoning your ego are keys to BJJ success.
Skill vs. Strength
If you've previously wrestled, been a weightlifter or participated in some other strength-based sport, it can be tempting to use strength to force your opponents to submit. But doing so can come at a high price. There's always someone stronger than you, and if you're simply holding opponents down or forcing their limbs into uncomfortable positions, you'll never learn proper form. Focus instead on mastering technique and drilling regularly, including with partners who may be more skilled but less strong than you.
No matter how strong you are and no matter how many sports you play, you won't get good at BJJ without plenty of practice. Rather than focusing on weightlifting or other areas of fitness, you need to train regularly. If you can't get to class, practice basic forms at home and master common BJJ maneuvers, such as quickly rolling from your back, over your shoulders and onto your stomach. Flexibility training can help you get even better at the sport, and mapping out common maneuvers can help you train your reflexes to quickly react when your opponent makes a move.
When you're sparring with a classmate, there's no benefit to injuring your training partner. Find out if your opponent has any injuries and work around them rather than exploiting them. No one wants to roll with someone who uses his ego to harm others, and if you don't respect your grappling partners, they won't respect you. Leave the riskiest maneuvers for competitions and respect your classmates' limitations and health.
- JiuJitsuSweep.com: 10 Tips to Survive Your First Year in Jiu Jitsu
- Jiu-Jitsu University; Saulo Ribeiro with Kevin Howell