Guest Post by Jeremy Payne
A note from Coach Jeremy:
For most people at the very beginning of their BJJ journey, there is this overwhelming influx of knowledge. It can make you go in a couple different directions; it can excite you and make you want to come train more often or it can make you want to “hang up” your gi. Trust me, you should be cherishing this time - it’ll be gone before you know it. As a white belt, your learning curve is so steep in the best of ways: you’re learning the core fundamentals of jiu jitsu. It might seem like too much information at once, and to be honest, it really is; no one person could possibly actually absorb all the different positions, submissions, defenses, takedowns, etc with any meaningful level of comprehension. Sure, the mechanics are as easy as studying a book, but applying those techniques in a practical situation (AKA sparring) is the hard part. All that being said, embrace the information overload - you’ll get there.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me during sparring what they should do in certain situations and that is a great thing. No matter what it is you’re struggling with, there is only one answer worth saying: don’t get frustrated. Instead, turn your short-comings into questions. Furthermore, direct those questions first to yourself. While we throw a ton of information at you during the technique portion of class, sparring time we leave you to your own devices and I’d like to believe that is for good reason. This is the time you need to start to teach yourself. While an instructor can help you perfect your technique; you need to know when and how to apply it when it comes time (sparring, tournaments, real life self defense situations).
When you get swept, submitted, taken down, give up a dominant position, etc- use the time immediately following that to understand how it happened. Ask yourself in your head and try to work through a way to prevent it from happening again. Ask your sparring partner to try doing it again and see if the solution you came up with on your own works out. If and when you cannot come up with a good solution, approach Coach Daniel or a more advanced teammate for help. If you start to use the coaching staff as a crutch every time you face adversity, you’ll have no legs to stand on of your own. The bigger purpose here is to start teaching yourself jiu jitsu. I haven’t found this practice to become less useful as I go through my jiu jitsu journey, so I don’t think it is “just a white belt” thing. But, the sooner one can start applying this learning technique in a jiu jitsu setting, the sooner that person will understand the core fundamentals of the sport including leverage, weight distribution, positioning, connection and distance. Strength, flexibility and speed don’t hurt and should not be ignored, but your knowledge of jiu jitsu fundamentals is absolutely going to win you a fight above all else.
Said some goofy purple belt….