If you are a BJJ White Belt! Congrats! If haven’t committed starting your journey yet, don’t feel ashamed. Many people lack the courage or humility necessary to walk into an academy and start, and few of them continue all the way to black belt! One of the main reasons students quit is that they fail to feel comfortable in a new environment which makes it easy to feel like the odd ball. This is totally normal, but… You shouldn’t feel that way!
Many of us can think back to an embarrassing moment on our first day of school. Back then it probably meant the end of the world whereas nowadays you can probably laugh about it. The same is true when it comes to being a BJJ White Belt, many of the things that seem like a big deal, will be things you laugh about with your new BJJ friends and maybe even want to share with another BJJ White Belt.
The key is to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself as a BJJ White Belt, much of your first day or month or year will be a learning experience. If you have a good sensei or coach and a good group of people, they will likely help you grow from it rather than put you down. Remember, we are all human and all make mistakes but, most of the Jiu Jitsu community is very forgiving and understanding since we were all that BJJ White Belt at one time or another.
Aside from that, here are some suggestions to help you be more informed in your early stages of training as a BJJ White Belt. On top of it, I promise you this, if you are able to make it to your next rank, you will look back and laugh at the day you put your pants on backwards or whatever the case may be!
- Learn how to put on your uniform on properly – Nothing will make you feel like one of the cool kids like when your uniform is looking sharp. Some academies will require a rash guard or white gi only so make sure you are aware of their standards. From there consider yourself part of an army or sports club and take pride in the way you look.
- Exercise good hygiene – There’s nothing worse than training with a bad smell! It’s like fighting two opponents, your partner AND their bad breath!
- Be friendly, respectful and observant – Being a good listener will not only help you progress more rapidly but will keep you from disrupting the class by talking unnecessarily. Remember, most of the students are there to LEARN.
- Ask the academy if there are any etiquette guidelines you should know (bowing, changing area, storage of personal belongings) – Some academies have specific rules to promote tidiness, hygiene, etc. These rules are not always in plain sight so consider asking the sensei or front desk person if there is anything they expect students to know. Generally Jiu Jitsu is a very warm and friendly environment so they will not expect too much of newcomers.
- Invest in private lessons – As a BJJ White Belt nothing will get you ahead of the curb like one on one time with your sensei or their best students. Use this time to learn what is the most important thing for someone at your level. For those hesitant to spar, this is a great opportunity as the chance of getting hurt training with your teachers is almost nonexistent versus another white belt who can’t quite control themselves yet.
- Understand the difficulty of Jiu Jitsu – As instructors, at Six Blades Jiu Jitsu La Quinta, we see many BJJ White Belt students become frustrated with losing and looking bad in class or sparring. It’s important to know that if Jiu jitsu was easy, everyone would be good at it! There’s a reason it can take 10 years to become a Black Belt. And we all started at the same place in one way or another, so there is never a reason to feel bad that you aren’t picking it up quickly. You would be surprised to know that many black belts encounter the same feelings as a BJJ White Belt.