Jiu Jitsu isn’t for the faint hearted. I have been choked, arm barred and throw to the ground.
I have bruises from people grabbing me and rashes from the Gi.
BUT I still leave with a smile and I am eager to return the next day!
I would like to share with you what I have learnt from my first month of doing Jiu Jitsu. My aim is to help you have a better experience yourself.
One thing I love about Jiu Jitsu is the belt system with ranking. It is simple to understand who has more experience than you, as you have to earn each belt and stripes.
What I would like to share with you today is what I, as a white belt, have learnt over the past month and what can help you enjoy your time as a white belt!
If you are unsure what it is all about, Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial art promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves, or another, against a bigger assailant by using proper technique and taking the fight to the ground. Then applying joint locks and chokeholds to defeat the opponent.
As you don’t need to be the strongest in the class to submit your opponent but out skill them. …This is why I personally enjoy it so much!
Jiu Jitsu promotes discipline, respect, and honor.
Discipline in training and learning the martial art.
Respect to the Academy, your professors, your fellow students and yourself.
Honor to yourself and others by never using the techniques learnt unless you have no other option.
In the past I have dabbled with other forms of martial arts, such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Muay Thai kickboxing. (Picture) Both for approximately 6 months each.
I enjoyed both but in the end did not find it as fulfilling as I have found Jiu Jitsu.
The main thing I enjoy about Jiu Jitsu, is the drilling of techniques and repeating the drills over and over to ensure they become muscle memory.
While I did do this in the other martial arts, I found I couldn’t recall the correct technique while sparring. I would just go back to old habits and try to use brute force.
Here are my 5 Mo Tips for getting the most out of your Jiu Jitsu experience!
1. You don’t have to go HARD every roll.
Each class is essentially the same.
Drill 1 to 2 techniques
Light sparring (rolling)
It is in the sparring where white belts can go wrong. I have had times where I felt it may be a literal fight to the death. Of course, I like to win but I am not going to go so hard I hurt them or myself in the process.
I see this in the class much too often and in the first few classes have done it myself as well! It’s easy to get caught up in the moment but when you have this go hard attitude, you become too tense and lose the art of flowing with the movements.
Remember that Jiu Jitsu is designed for small opponents to beat larger ones. By going hard, you fall straight into their trap and will often be beaten, if you are taking on a more skilled opponent.
In the fundamentals class with predominantly white belts, you can get away with going hard but it really isn’t worth it?
No one wants to roll with “that student” who goes to hard!
2. Tap early, tap often.
The aim of Jiu Jitsu is that your opponent submits to you. You can do this by either choke holds or joint locks.
Once you have secured one of these, your opponent must tap for you to stop.
Tapping out is admitting defeat, which no one likes to do, especially when it seems to happen all the time as a white belt but this is an integral part of the learning process.
Having suffered injuries in the past while in the army, I know I don’t want to get hurt if I can avoid it. Tapping early for me is essential to my own health.
Of course I do try my best to escape the submission but once I know I am unable to escape, I tap.
I have rolled with a few white belts who push the extremes and focus me to apply more pressure to the choke or joint lock. Now, this is great practice for me because in tournaments, opponents will be less likely to tap as quickly. However, by doing this it puts their bodies at risk!
There are no prizes in class for passing out or receiving a broken arm.
Tap out so you don’t pass out!
3. You need to train 4 times a week, minimum!
This isn’t a regular fitness class, where you can fly in and fly out once or twice a week to cover the 3pm office Tim Tams!
You need to invest time into it or you will remain a white belt forever!
Now, I have the luxury of going to an Academy that offers a large number of classes throughout the day, including: fundamentals classes, intermediate, advanced and All levels; Gi, and no Gi.
I make it my priority to attend at least 4 times a week, if not 5 or 6. Sometimes doing back to back classes. This is to ensure I get the time on the mats to improve my skill set.
The research shows it takes 20 hours to learn a skill and 10,000 hours to master it. As there are SO many skills to learn in Jiu Jitsu, you need to invest the time on the mats to start accumulating the hours!
Of course I understand this is easier said than done. As some Academy’s don’t offer times that suit each person’s schedules BUT if you really want to learn Jiu Jitsu and progress through the belts, you will need to invest the time.
Which leads me into my next point!
4. Fitness and Jiu Jitsu!
I am lucky to have a long training history as a Coach. From my time playing several different sports as a kid, to joining the army and the daily training I had to do there, I have maintained a level of fitness from the age of seven. If you have taking a break from training, you may find Jiu Jitsu extremely taxing on the body. I was very sore after my first week of training Jiu Jitsu. But this is to be expected with any new sport you take up. Don’t let it discourage you. It is all apart of the process!
To ensure you don’t get any injuries, here are 3 things to consider.
• Your level of output in the class. You don’t have to go HARD every roll.
• Rest and recover- In between classes it’s important to ensure you rest and recover correctly. First thing is to make sure you get enough sleep. Your body has literally been beaten, it recovers as you sleep at night.
Secondly, it’s important to ensure you keep your body moving between classes. I am not saying go smash out a gym session. I am suggesting active recovery, such as flow drills and body weight exercises that will help loosen the tight areas and tighten the loose areas.
• Nutrition- You need to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition, as you have increased the level of output by attending this classes. As you are not only working with your body, you are working against another person’s body.
Ensure you have a good pre workout snack an hour beforehand. I personally enjoy rice thins with peanut butter (Smooth!!) and a banana.
Also a good post workout meal to restock your depleted nutrition. My go to post workout meal is, 1 cup of brown rice, 1 avocado and 2 tins of tuna all mixed together!
Just like no one wants to roll with the overly aggressive white belt. No one wants to roll with the stinky white belt!
It is SUPER important you take your hygiene seriously, as you aren’t just going to the gym and working out. You are positioning your body all over someone else and if you smell, it’s the worst for your opponent!
Once you know that you enjoy Jiu Jitsu, I highly recommend getting a second Gi (Gi being the traditional martial arts uniform wore in Jiu Jitsu) as you must wash your Gi in between sessions. I also recommend wearing a rash top underneath your Gi to help absorb the sweat.
There is nothing worse than someone else’s sweat dripping on to you!!
If you are training after work, ensure you shower before training. It shows respect to your Academy, your fellow students and yourself. Taking pride in your own hygiene is very important.
I am looking forward to my journey with Jiu Jitsu and I will keep updating you as I go.
Reflecting back on the past month has given me great insight on how to improve in the future as I hope these reflections may help you on your journey with Jiu Jitsu. I would love to hear about your experience and anything you have learnt in your time of either Jiu Jitsu or any other martial arts. As there is so many!