The Benefits Of Keeping It Simple As A BJJ White Belt
In the relentless pursuit of advancing our skills and abilities to blue belt status as quickly as possible, we sometimes ignore the basics of the sport that build the foundations of any post white belt.
Having a white belt strapped around your waist can be challenging at times. You’ll often be sharing the mats with teammates who are more experienced and have a deeper understanding of the sport. You might struggle to learn new techniques and movements that everyone else makes look so simple. It’s also normal to go through a stage of doubt; you will wonder what it will take for you to be awarded a blue belt. By this stage, your white belt isn’t as much white as it is ‘dirty’ as a result of your hard work persistence in class.
But in many ways, being a white belt is a tremendous opportunity. There are no expectations of you, and that means you can take your time to understand and appreciate the subtle elements of BJJ thoroughly. You know how they say that the first brick when building a house is the most important? Well, this applies to the way you learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well.
We get it. You want to learn all of the fancy techniques that you’ve seen go viral on Instagram, right? You’re not going to go viral for controlling someone in your full guard with perfect technique. But you know what? Learning and mastering the simple concepts and techniques in BJJ will help you move up the ranks faster than you could even imagine.
Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “The Benefits Of Keeping It Simple As A BJJ White Belt.”
Your guard will become increasingly reliable
The benefits of a reliable guard are immensely understated. Instead, you’ll see people more fascinated with learning submissions and skipping past the advantages that come with having an increasingly impassable guard.
If you continue practicing and tightening up your full (closed) guard, half guard, and maybe even one other variant of guard, you’ll learn to remain comfortable even in sometimes awkward positions.
For example, there is no reason why one of your objectives as a white belt shouldn’t be to practice controlling your opponent in your full guard. This is especially the case when rolling with a teammate who is of a higher rank. Keep it simple; don’t go full-steam at trying to catch an experienced practitioner in a triangle choke. Instead, focus on controlling them.
During this time, you can of course eventually dip your toes in the water and try new things. If you want to practice that armbar you learned from day one, you can start to set up the submission from your closed guard. If your training partner moves or begins to escape the position, you can give up on the submission and move back to controlling your partner in closed guard. You will learn anticipation and timing by keeping it simple as a BJJ white belt.
You will learn the importance of stability, pressure, and patience
Have you ever established what you thought was a heavy side control or full mount and then been swept? It might feel embarrassing at the time to give up a dominant position and end up on your back, but it is all part of the learning process.
Instead of trying to advance through different positions and attempt wild submissions, if you keep it simple from the top position you will quickly improve your ability to hold and control an opponent.
There are so many elements behind controlling top position that it is difficult to even begin listing some here. But, small knowledge bombs such as not giving your opponent ability to control your hips, understanding when to apply pressure to different areas of the body, and anticipating when and how to base out to prevent a sweep will all make you an exceptional top player in BJJ.
Maintaining side control for one or two minutes while you experience what it is like to counter an opponent’s escapes is remarkable learning for any white belt. Again, you’re not going to feel as fabulous as somebody hitting complex submissions from open guard (or something similar), but you’re building a foundation of knowledge and experience that will help you progress faster than you would be learning any one type of submission.
You will begin to understand what works (and doesn’t work) well for your body type
Despite the same techniques being instructed to everyone equally, you are going to be naturally better at some movements and specifics of the sport than others. For example, if you have short arms, you might struggle with locking up a D’Arce choke. If you have longer legs, you might find yourself more comfortable operating from Z-guard or finishing a triangle choke.
This is all just experience, and no instructor or article is ever going to be able to tell you what will and won’t work for you when you step onto the mats.
As you begin to realize what works for you, that’s when you should also remember to keep things simple. If you feel comfortable with one particular aspect of BJJ, go ahead and keep working at it. Continue to learn and improve on that specific technique so that you can begin using it when rolling and then learn from the experiences that happen throughout that five-minute session with your partner.
Keep it simple and don’t feel like you have to ace all of the things that you have struggled with.
You will learn how to manage your energy
Why is it that no one seems to discuss the cardio element of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? We talk about it all the time with boxing and other combat sports, but BJJ cardio is rarely a topic of interest.
BJJ cardio isn’t necessarily referring to your ability to run forever. It is, however, referring to your physical endurance and ability to keep on rolling while on the mats.
Have you ever rolled with a partner and realized that you were so fatigued that you had to give up a position that you otherwise wouldn’t have? That hurts.
By keeping it simple and focusing on aspects of the sport such as breathing, pacing, and when to be explosive, you will learn to manage your energy and last longer on the mats.
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