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What Should Jiu Jitsu White Belts Focus On?

Ever wondered what you should focus on when you first step onto the mat? Whether you're a total beginner or have just started training, this post is for you.

The Dilemma of the Beginner

Many beginners in Jiu Jitsu often feel lost, especially when they watch videos or observe experienced practitioners.

As a newbie, you may often find yourself on the defense, trying not to get tapped out, rather than going on the offense. Sounds familiar, right?

Embracing the Guard

One of the first places you'll likely find yourself is inside the guard. This is especially true if you haven't wrestled before or if you're not particularly strong or heavy-set. For many, the guard becomes a sanctuary, a starting point for all future attacks.

Pro Tip: In your early days, your main goal should be to maintain the guard for as long as possible. Why? Because if you can maintain your guard, you're in an offensive position. You can break your opponent's posture and keep them under control, setting you up for sweeps and submissions in the future.

Navigating from Inside the Guard

Here's a scenario: You're inside your opponent's guard. You've been there for a minute, maybe longer. Your arms are tired, and you're constantly working to maintain your posture. What should you do?

Focus on maintaining your posture. Keep your knees wide and your hands off the mat – instead, keep them on your opponent's body. Remember to always control the inside. If your opponent pulls you down, jam your arms up into their armpits, keeping your elbows tight. Then, bring your knees to your elbows, ensuring everything stays close. Only then should you attempt to break the guard.

If you're training in the gi, use your opponents' lapels and sleeves to control them and bring them to you. If you're training no-gi, use grips like "two on one" that help keep your opponent busy.

Goal Setting: If yesterday you held your top position for 30 seconds before being swept, aim for 40 seconds or even a minute today. It's about setting small, achievable goals to measure your progress.

Setting the Pace

When you're starting out, gauge your progress by how well you can maintain your positions. Once you feel comfortable holding your guard, start exploring attacks. Go for a sweep or submission. If it doesn't work out, no sweat – you can always reset and try again. The same goes for when you're on top; once you can maintain that top position reliably, try to break and pass your opponent's guard.

Going for Submissions

So now you've got your basics down, but you want to actually start hitting some submissions. Well, as a white belt there are a limited set of subs you should be working on. Shooting for heel hooks on day 1 is a recipe for ticking off your training partners and getting hurt. Instead, start with these chokes that ever white belt should know:

Remember, Everyone Starts Somewhere

Embrace the grind. Remember, it's temporary! With time, persistence, and the right mindset, you'll find your footing in the world of Jiu Jitsu. Keep rolling and always aim to grow, one session at a time.