10 Things you MUST KNOW as a brand new white belt!

All of us started at white belt. All of us. Except Chuck Norris, he spontaneously grew a black belt from behind his abdominal wall.

Two jiu jitsu black belts, yesterday


Here’s a list of things you absolutely MUST DO as a newcomer to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

Number 8 will MELT YOUR BRAIN in HALF!

1) Get Fit and Strong before you start! 

Seems like a no brainer, right?! But you’d never guess how many idiots step foot on the mat without any form of physical preparedness. If you’ve been watching jiu jitsu from the sidelines but thinking “I am not strong or fit enough to do that”, then guess what: you’re absolutely right. You need speed and power to survive in jiu jitsu, otherwise you are going to get absolutely crushed, possibly wet yourself, and girls will laugh at you (regardless of your gender.) We recommend a few months of weight training and roadwork before you even think about stepping foot in a dojo. Measure your biceps regularly to check progress. After an inch growth, sign on the dotted line and get rolling!

2) If you have experience in another martial art, USE IT!

Wing Chun? Wado Ryu Karate? Tae Kwon Do? Just because you started doing jiu jitsu, doesn’t mean the black belt you got by waving your arms around in the air for three years is useless… on the contrary. Let your partner know during rolls where you could have got them with your other martial art, if you had the opportunity. Always imagine you’re still doing your previous martial art, just in a different position. Think about where you could knife hand your partner in the back, or what position is optimum for a groin strike.

3) Try your best NOT to get tapped out.

Tapping out in jiu jitsu signifies that YOU JUST “LOST THE GAME”. If that had have been the streets, you’d literally be dead. Make it as difficult as possible to get tapped. It doesn’t matter if your partner has been training for five years and it’s your first night on the mats, he has absolutely no right to be any better than you at jiu jitsu. Fight the tap, fight it with every ounce of your strength until you are blue in the face and your tendons are pulled tighter than a pair of Brazilian Speedos.

4) Watch as many instructionals as possible

Information is good, right? “Forewarned is forearmed”, so they say. So more information is more good. Google “BJJ techniques” and study, study, study. Then when you’re sick of the sight of two guys grappling, study some more. It doesn’t matter if the techniques make absolutely no sense or are way above your level – absorb them, and try to do them. Demonstrate to your instructor that you are much better than he gives you credit for, by practicing your advanced YouTube techniques while he is teaching boring stuff like escapes to the rest of the dunces.

5) There is NO SUCH THING as a stupid question, only stupid instructors!

Ask questions, constantly. Keep your instructor on his toes by asking in the middle of techniques. Make him prove to you that he has all the answers and deserves your membership. Instructors love inquisitiveness, so be inquisitive. If you are shown a sweep, ask what happens when you counter it. Then what happens when you counter the counter, and so on and so on, forever. Throw in questions about strikes too, so he knows you like to keep it real.

6) Buy the most expensive gi you can, as quick as you can. 

There is literally nothing more important than owning a cool gi. Your gi advertises to the world how much jiu jitsu means to you and how much money you’re willing to spend to prove it to people. It’s the first thing people see when they look at you. What do you want your opening statement to be? “Hey, I’m Brad, I’m kinda interested in jiu jitsu, just trying it out?” Yeah, right. See you later, you fucking loser. A designer gi screams to the world “I LOVE JIU JITSU SO HARD RIGHT NOW AND I ONLY JUST STARTED LIKE A WEEK AGO. COME AT ME.”

7) Skip the warmups

Seriously. Pushups, running, star jumps, and wriggling up and down the mats? As if that ever helped anybody win a fight ever. Most progressive jiu jitsu schools have done away with warmups anyway, so even if it’s on the schedule, think of it as a test of character. If you turn up on time, you fail. 

8) Make things as difficult as possible for your training partner

Have you ever seen a real fight where one person lies down like a wet fish? Didn’t think so. When your partner is practicing moves, even for the first time, lock out all your muscles, bite down hard and make them work. Anything less than absolute effort at all times is doing them a disservice. There’s no time for getting into the swing of things in the real world – things go from zero to 100 in no time flat and your training should reflect that. Remember, if they fail to pull off a rep on you, you win. 

9) The headlock is your friend.

The headlock is one of the most basic – and most effective – moves of all time. It’s as if we’ve known how to do it since childhood. There is never not a good time to do a headlock. And if you get it, remember to squeeze as hard as you can. It doesn’t matter if you don’t move for five whole minutes, as long as you have their head trapped in your vice like grip, you are effectively the winner and they are the loser.

10) Keep a diary of taps. 

In today’s fast-moving world, we forget a lot. Forget the shopping, forget our partner’s birthdays and anniversaries two years running and get divorced, sometimes we even forget who we tapped out and how. To really progress in jiu jitsu, you need to keep score. Otherwise how do you know who’s winning? Write down the names, dates and times of all your taps, and be sure to remind people of them too. And if you get tapped, write it in red and draw a ragged circle of anger around it, to represent the shame of tapping. Check your diary at the end of the week. If you got tapped more than you tapped other people, consider whether or not jiu jitsu is really for you.

We hope you like the Awkward Shaka top 10 list of things you must know as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu noobie!


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