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Five things I wish I knew when I started BJJ that would make it a lot easier…

1 – Be humble

We, unfortunately, live in a world where people in general wrongly mistaken humility as a sign of weakness. They spent their entire life’s pretending they know everything in fact this is one of the biggest problems in corporations these days!
In Fact, the more humble you are the more you will learn, absolve and be prepared to spot situations where you can make a question and get a very good insight in order to evolve as a practitioner.
Nearly every practitioner from a blue belt level and definitely from purple will have at least one position or area of their game that they play extremely well and when I spot that I have no problem in asking that training partner to show me or explain to me how they do it, and I have been training for over 30 years. If you are not prepared to be humble you will miss one of the most powerful windows that allow you to craft this infinity world of BJJ.


2 – Mindset/Approach

Don’t see getting submitted by being defeated but as an opportunity to learn. The positive thing to do is try to understand in your head why you have got submitted and how you could avoid it. Not getting submitted if you are training BJJ is the same as not getting wet if you are learning how to swim.
Remember you can always ask questions to your partner after the training or on the open mat classes if he does something always good with you. For this approach to happen and your jiu-jitsu to flourish is very important that you try to think about BJJ outside the mats and recreate or ask questions in regards to what is happening in your training. That is why going to hard and muscle up without any technique just to feed your ego won’t take you long in BJJ, actually in anything in life. You need a good solid foundation.
Observation as part of your approach is a key element on your evolution. You should do this while you are also watching people training too. Do you know each of your training partner’s best sweeps? Which side they normally pass or defend their guard better?
How about their go-to submissions? How you will know the best game to play against your opponent if you don’t know the weaknesses and strengths in their games???
This is one of the most neglected technical aspects in BJJ in my opinion that can have a huge impact on your personal training and evolution as a jiu-jitsu practitioner, providing a lot more knowledge acquired just spending the time observing and analysing! By the way, this was one of the most important tools that helped Helio Gracie develop the art of BJJ!

3 – RESPECT THE RULES AND ETIQUETTE.

There is a massive bond that BJJ creates between training partners. An easy way to explain it is that we put our life and safety on the other person’s hand, expecting that after our initial tap or verbal stop sign, the other person will release straight away. Therefore this environment must be controlled! Safety must come first always!!!
Hygiene is an obvious part of safety in BJJ so if you are not capable of trim your nails regularly so you don’t cut and infect someone else or wash your Gi regularly ( even if in your mind you think that you did not sweat at all…), I can tell you when you start to train again next time, you will stink and if I am your coach I will send you home straight away just like we learned in Brazil because safety is the priority and skin infections are a nasty and contagious problem that must be avoided at all costs. If you are not able to wear footwear, preferably sandals to walk around while off the mats so you don’t bring dirt to the mat where we will be putting our faces……or you are not able to keep the toilets clean after using it….Honestly, you should not start BJJ!
Be respectful with the environment so never use course words and have inappropriate actions that could impact other people’s families.
A good BJJ CLUB is prepared to create and share values that are very important for the whole community that they bellow and as result get better human beings and your example counts once you are part of that team culture.

4- Patience

Everyone wants to get good very quickly but in reality, it takes time to even get the foundations right. It is funny but the better are your foundations the better will be your BJJ….so why you should have any rush!
Don’t compare yourself with other people as everyone grows in different times stages and games. Compare only with you and that way you know what you need to get better at. This is very important! People spent hours talking about other people in BJJ but are never able to analyse their own BJJ games with weaknesses and strengths.
Don’t take BJJ like a race like look one position and go ok I know this one what is next. To say you know something in BJJ means nothing since, THE MATS DON’T LIE so you should be doing very well in training all the time then you know this position…just because someone showed you before in BJJ that means nothing…..So be kind and gentle with yourself. Immerse and try to do things out If you are not prepared to immerse yourself then maybe you won’t have the privilege of having a good BJJ. You might hate me for saying this now but after 30 years of training Jiu-Jitsu I can honestly tell you: You will never know everything. You might hate me again but I honestly think that this is the most amazing thing about BJJ….there will be always a fresh or even an unknown room for improving, experimenting, creating, exploring, learning, sharing, trying, analysing, observing you got the picture right!
Don’t compare yourself with other people as that is not your reality.
Every person will have their own Journey as BJJ is infinity a Black belt will always be a white belt that never gave up so he got a few more learning lessons and life lessons on his belt!

5 – BE HELPFUL AND COMMITTED

Different from many other Martial arts, BJJ Academies, in general, will strive to always teach and show moves to every student without hiding any “secrets”. The understanding for this is the better we can make our training partners be the better I will be able to be.
For example, if I always submit you in an armbar from the close guard I will show you how to defend so I automatically have to improve myself! Sound crazy but works and the Mats don’t lie!
Have a positive attitude towards learning and respect for the teachers. Don’t mind starting again something that maybe you have been doing for years but you found a better way to do it! Be open-minded as your ego is your big enemy in BJJ!
Regularity is crucial so unless you got sick or injured you should be training. If you have a terrible week (we all have that in real life) Try to make it twice a week and you will have an overall great regularity.

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