Fundamentals That a White Belt Jiu Jitsu Student Should Learn

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not for the faint of heart – it is a very brutal martial art that has grown over the years into worldwide popularity. A lot of people are starting to realize how great BJJ is and many are even taking the time to give it a try. Some white belts move on and many others do not.

The white belt is the most novice level. As a white belt a person will only begin to understand the concepts and philosophies that define what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is. It’s not about the fancy Jiu Jitsu gi or what rank a person is amongst the colored Jiu Jitsu belts.

It’s about mastering the very bare basics.

Master the BJJ Positional Hierarchy

There are many positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but many instructors help their students identify which are the best and which are the worst. A white belt should be able to identify which position will put them in trouble and which positions they are dominating a match.

This hierarchy also adds a sense of order in a chaotic match. A fighter will be able to take a moment, realize what position they are in with their opponent, and strategize how they can move up the hierarchy ladder to win.

From best to worst, the hierarchy of positions is as follows:

  1. Rear mount
  2. Mount
  3. Knee on Belly
  4. Side control
  5. Half Mount
  6. Guard TopGuard Bottom
  7. Turtle Top / Turtle Bottom
  8. Half Guard Bottom
  9. Side control Bottom
  10. Knee on Belly Bottom
  11. Mount Bottom
  12. Rear mount Bottom

4 Questions for Dominant and Losing Positions

By understanding the hierarchy of positions a white belt has an advantage when it comes down to a match. Even when they are not in the dominant position and are threatened to submit, they can ask these questions to help strategize and take over the situation.

If a fighter’s opponent is the one in the dominant position then they should be asking themselves these two questions:

  1. How can I properly and safely re-position my balance, limbs, and posture so I can avoid being submitted while in this current position?
  2. How can I safely escape this current position and then move up to the next higher position on the position hierarchy?

If a fighter happens to be on the dominant position in a match then they should be asking:

  1. How can I maintain my opponent and control my opponent so that they do not break free and escape this current position?
  2. What are the most effective submissions I can do from this position?

These questions will help a white belt understand if they are winning the match or if they need to make immediate adjustments so they can turn the situation around to their favor.

Understand the Body Mechanics of Your Basic Techniques

A majority of a white belt’s time will be spent learning new techniques. After some time a white belt will be overwhelmed with the plethora of escapes, sweeps, throws, and submissions. This is where mastering of basic body mechanics becomes important.

You need to understand what each part of your body is doing. What is your left hand doing and where does your right hand go? What do your feet do while executing a certain move?

You also need to take consideration your weight and posture. Do you shift your weight to the side and turn as you grab and take the opponent down? Understanding how your body reacts to each basic movement is a crucial step in mastering each new technique.

The best instructors are those who focus on teaching the techniques like a dance. A technique can be split into several steps that the student will master slowly and surely as they put those steps into a continuous flow.

Do Not Eye the Gi Patches and Belts

As a white belt it is very important to stop paying attention to the fancy Jiu Jitsu gi patches and higher ranking Jiu Jitsu belts. Unlike other martial arts, it takes years for a person to escalate up the ranks of Jiu Jitsu. So stop worrying about your belt color and focus on your current lessons.

This is an area where many people fail. They often hear how long it takes to go up the ranks and immediately lose interest. Others fee complacent after learning the basics and fail to continue studying, thinking they have learned all they needed.

Stop looking at the blue belt. It will take months or even a year before you can wear that belt, so don’t waste time dreaming about what is inevitable. Instead, focus on what you need to learn right now and master every movement, every drill, and every technique bestowed upon you from your instructors.

They always say you need to keep your eye on the ball and that saying holds quite true for Jiu Jitsu.

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