Jiu Jitsu for Beginners - getting strangled
Fitness,  Jiu Jitsu

So You’re Thinking About Starting Jiu Jitsu…

An inside look at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from a white belt’s perspective to help you know what to expect when you start training.

Getting strangled in jiu jitsu - white belt beginners

So you want to start your journey in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu…. how cool.

At the time of writing this post, I am a 6 month, one stripe white belt, and I hope I can give you some insight on the first 6 months.

If you are looking for someone who knows everything… you won’t find that here. Rather, these are ground-level basics that I’m hoping you can relate to, to better prepare you for your first classes.

What is Jiu-Jitsu?

From Merriam Webster, the definition is

“An art of weaponless fighting employing holds, throws, and paralyzing blows to subdue or disable an opponent.”

Translated to English, it means gentle, soft, pliable or yielding.
All of that makes me smile because as a white belt, it means to get choked, sweat a lot, and learn to show up!

Seriously though, here are some questions to ask before starting.

Questions to Ask Before Starting

  • Why do you want to do this?
  • Are you doing this for defense training?
  • Are you doing this because you like the culture?

Mike Morgan, my coach from Glory MMA and fitness says,

“If you train 1-2 times a week, you become good; 3-4 times a week you become exceptional. But NOTHING will make you better other than getting beaten down repeatedly.”.

Mike Morgan

If you are doing this for a hobby, then treat it as one. But if you are genuinely wanting to take this journey, then take it seriously.

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners

Here are a few tips in the first six months to help you along the way.

  1. Expect to be uncomfortable. No matter what you read in this post remember this: Do exactly the opposite of what your mind tells you the first few weeks.
    Trust me, you will want to quit at first and I told myself every excuse in the book. (I hurt, I don’t like being choked, etc. etc..)
    Suck it up though, because I promise the pain is worth the gain. In a few months, you’ll become conditioned.
  2. Get used to hurting after practice. Practice the rice method.
    R= Rest I= Ice C= Compression E=Elevation.
    Let your training partner know if you have any injuries and just work with what works. I personally used Advil after class in the beginning, and now 6 months later, I don’t really use anything.
    Your toes will take a beating, but they will heal. Everything will hurt. But the moral of the story is “pain is the gain” and to stay on course. Become hungry to learn. THAT is the ultimate driver.
  3. You ARE where your coach says you are, that’s it. Do not ask “When am I getting my next stripe?” that will get you nowhere.
    Respect will get you far. You are on a journey with several others who are in different places be a good partner.
    Your coach will be giving you little nuggets of gold saying profound things and over time it will actually click.
  4. The coach expects you to show up on time and often. Let them know after a few weeks of your intention of showing up.
    I like 3 times a week and 2 at a minimum. On great weeks, I can squeeze in 4 times.
    Some guys go every day. If you have that bandwidth and time, you will climb the ladder quicker. You might not realize this now but as a white belt you have very little pressure. The upper belts have different pressures. You are in jiu jitsu preschool… all that is expected is to show up, don’t be a prick and be a good training partner.
  5. Slow down. I see new guys much like I did, that go 100 miles per hour; especially when someone is taking a position or being choked or submitted. Learn to maintain your energy and take a lot of deep breathes. Realize that flipping out will get you nowhere except losing a partner or getting hurt. Be calm and expect that you will get choked. I can’t give you a magic pill to teach you this. I can only tell you it’s ok, calm down and conserve your energy.
  6. Get the right gear. Get a good gi. You can usually get a recommendation and/or buy them at the gym that you train at. Buy some rash guards and find a good Jok strap and cup. (I use the Diamond brand and of course I buy the largest cup that they make — if you’re reading this and think I’m serious, I have some property that I want to sell you too). A mouthguard is also important too!
Jiu Jitsu for Beginners - getting a stripe

Congratulations on starting your journey. Please send me your thoughts on your journey and pictures. I love seeing people succeed.

Remember, become an expert at paying attention. Become a sponge. You’ve got this and don’t give up!

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