Starting off on any new endeavor is always exciting. But for every bit of excitement there are equal amounts of uncertainty and even fear. This certainly holds true with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, as it does with the rest of life. People begin taking classes, eager to learn it all, but many of these folks simply give up before they ever surpass the beginner’s stage.
Whey does this happen? Sure, we could take the easy road and say that everyone who doesn’t stick it out is a wimp, or just wasn’t cut out for BJJ training. But that wouldn’t be the truth. To really understand why so many people have a hard time early on in their BJJ training, we need to consider several factors.
So in this post, we sourced some useful information from the Science of Skill to bring to you the BJJ Beginners Guide.
BJJ Beginners Guide
Downward Self Comparison
Your first few months of training will inevitably be an uphill battle, but hang in there long enough and things will start to get easier.
“Everyone is better than me.” One of the most insidious issues with being the “new guy” in an gym is the fact that everyone seems so much better than you – sometimes to the extent that you don’t believe you could ever reach their level. Through talking to a number of beginners in this game I can say that this might be the biggest reason (other than injury or fear of injury) that people quit and don’t come back to the sport. Nothing you do seems as good as the others in the room.
Comparing oneself to others – especially in the early stages of one’s training, is not the best method of assessment, as we will explore shortly.
Not Learning in Sparring
What usually happens to the newbie in sparring? He “loses,” that’s usually what happens. In rolling he gets smashed and submitted. However, I put “loses” in hypotheses because a loss is entirely what we frame it to be in our minds.
How much of a loss would it be if you lost to the reigning world number one by two points in a tennis match? I’m guessing that most people would be tremendously excited to score a single point. In fact, some might see a single point scored to be a “win” in their own regard.
And do we ever lose when we roll. As the saying goes, you roll and even if you get submitted you learn. If you are not getting tapped on the mat, you are not learning.
So now that we’ve covered the two biggest “hangups” for new practitioners, lets get directly into the “how” of getting past them, gaining skill and ability fast, and enjoying training as a whole.
Self to Self Over Time Comparison
Everyone progresses at different speeds, don’t stress out by comparing others’ progress to your own.
“Progress” needn’t only be measured against the people around you. Maybe that’ve been training for seven years, maybe they don’t have a day job and get out on the mat for three hours every single day of the week.
Your progress is just that, your progress. At least for your first number of practices, refer to progress within the context of your own skill set. Did you sweep a blue belt? That’s significant if you’ve never done it before. Were you able to last quite a few rolls without needing to break to catch your wind? Again, if that’s not something you’ve done before, that’s significant.
Look for achievements that the old you (a few months ago, maybe) wouldn’t have been able to achieve. Over time – especially if your goals are competitive – your focus can shift more and more to seeing how you “stack up,” but even this aught always be tapered with an eye on your own self to self comparison.
Setting “Stretch” Goals in Live Training
When you’re rolling with much more skilled and experienced training partners, “losing” is almost inevitable in an objective sense. However, this doesn’t need to be half of the frustration most people allow it to be.
In Mihaly Cszisentmihalyi’s work on what he call’s “Flow,” he refers to “Flow” (otherwise known as being in “the zone”) as being a state that involves a good match of challenge to skills. For the new student, everything seems to be more of a challenge than his skills prepare him for. This imbalance of too much perceived challenge given one’s kill level leads to anxiety (when skill is too high for the challenge, boredom is the result instead – Flow is the middle ground).
In order to dial your challenge down to your skill level, you can make all kinds of mental goals within the context of live training in order to better suit where you are:
- Instead of trying to beat the purple belt, set your goal as not getting you guard passes and not getting submitted
- Instead of trying to beat the five year experienced opponent, aim to avoid at least one or two of his/her submission attempts
- Instead of focusing on completely getting a point on your professor, aim to at least do perfectly the technique that was just taught to you
In making these adjustments, live training with more talented, experienced and more skilled partners can become seen as a learning experience as opposed to something frustrating. In these instances, not getting submitted by the purple belt might be a big deal – it might be a “win” on your terms.Source: Science of Skill
If we’re all honest with ourselves, we can certainly think about times during our initial training that we felt like hanging it up and being done with BJJ forever. Maybe it was that embarrassing session that you lost as a white belt, or maybe it was that shoulder injury that kept you from training hard for a few months. It’s never easy being a newbie!
So be sure to keep these things in mind, and do your part to encourage the new students. If you were dominant when sparring with a lower ranking student, go out of your way to make sure that they learned from their defeat; maybe tell them the opening they gave you that allowed you to choke them so easily.
We need more people practicing BJJ and less people dropping out because the initial going ons are a bit tough. To get more people involved with BJJ training, please click LIKE below to share this post that provides a BJJ Beginners Guide.