Starting any new area of study usually involves a steep learning curve.
Bjj is considered the most complex of all the martial arts due to the sheer number of positions and individual techniques and can leave beginners feeling overwhelmed.
There are common mistakes that many white belts (and some higher belts also!) make in the academy that are counter productive to their progress.
1) Training everyday
At first it seems like a good idea to allow your early enthusiasm to get you to the academy everyday.
Unfortunately that often leads to burnout mentally or an over use injury (ex. tendonitis) and results in a student quitting all together.
Your body and brain can only learn so fast before you start to burn out.
Anyone can come out of the gate fast, but can you be consistent after that initial burst of enthusiasm?
Pace yourself grasshopper!
2) Advanced techniques too quickly
It is natural to watch the superstars of the sport of bjj in action and want to try the moves that they are pulling off in their competition hilite reels.
However, the best jiu-jitsu games are built on a foundation of solid basics.
It is a sorry sight to see a new student drilling his berimbolo before he even has a solid side control escape in his game.
There is a time to try advanced techniques, but not before the basic techniques are learned.
Many an instructor has rolled their eyes at a complete noob wanting to learn “a fancy Youtube move” when they aren’t remotely ready for it.
3) Not Tapping
A competitive spirit is essential to doing well in bjj.
No one wants to lose!
But one must recognize when one is caught in a submission.
If you refuse to tap you are not proving how tough you are…you are risking injury that will keep you off the mat and REALLY stall your progress.
And if your elbow gets popped your training partner feels bad about it.
Ok, you got caught in a submission. Just take the attitude “Ok, you got me,…now let’s try again!”
4) Rolling to survive and not to LEARN
There is a famous saying in jiu-jitsu “Leave your ego at the door.”
What this is reminding people is that the primary purpose of rolling should NOT be to win but to train and improve your techniques.
Sure, you can avoid being tapped by that blue belt as often if you use all of your strength and explosiveness, but pause and ask yourself: “Is this improving my skill level?”
Instead, look for a technical solution for your rolling situations.
5) Safety of your partners
Unfortunately many new students to bjj have a reputation for being dangerous to roll with among the more experienced students.
Without a sufficient amount of technique and body control, they can thrash wildly and unpredictably on the mat and inadvertently hurt their training partners.
Rolling with “a bag of elbows and knees” is not much fun and can lead to others wanting to avoid rolling with you.
Take care of your training partners and watch those errant elbows and knees!