Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting BJJ

I started BJJ in Tempe quite a while ago, but I’m still finding things I wish I knew before starting BJJ. I see the same thing every day with new students. One of the biggest lessons that is eventually learned is that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself. If I follow the rules of the class and practice the instruction, that’s about all the requirements. The rest is up to me, but it can go overboard. Tapping out isn’t necessarily bad if I learn from the situation. Overtraining at the expense of relationships leads to a lonely life and that’s not what the sport is all about. It’s about taking responsibility for your own life and being an adult.

Size doesn’t count.

I once faced an opponent that was far smaller than myself. I felt a bit cocky, smug and sorry for the little guy. That was a huge mistake. It didn’t take long for this mighty mouse to make me tap out. It happens all the time in BJJ. It’s the art and techniques you use, rather than brute strength, but that’s a tough lesson that I’m still learning. When I face someone considerably smaller, I automatically think victory, even though my logical brain is telling me to watch out, small but mighty often wins.

Be consistent and stick with training.

BJJ is more than just the art of grappling. It’s a total body fitness sport that needs to be maintained. If you are consistently training three times a week, you’ll maintain your cardio and technique. Taking time off not only slows your progress, it can make it come to a halting stop. One thing that I can attest to when it comes to training is that I personally enjoy it so much that I have more of a problem spending too much time in training. However, some people take longer to get past the initial phases that can be less exciting. Stick with a training schedule and you’ll be glad you did. You’ll reap the rewards you hoped to achieve.

Don’t compare your progress to anyone else.

Everyone masters BJJ moves at a different rate, but slow and steady can win the race. I’ve seen people who look like they were born with a BJJ manual and had memorized it by the time they were a toddler. They just are naturals that zipped by everyone else. Ignore their rapid progress and just keep practicing. Hard work and consistency pays off in the end. It’s all about your journey, so spend your time focusing on yourself.

  • Cleanliness counts and there’s no shortcut. Once I didn’t have time to wash my gi, so I just threw it in the dryer with dryer sheets. It smelled good for a short time, but my let me know it didn’t after the first hard workout of the class. Be a good partner. Be spotlessly clean with extra deodorant and freshly brushed teeth.
  • Gender has nothing to do with winning or losing. The best students want to train with people at their own level or better to improve, regardless of gender.
  • There are no ultimate moves that work like magic in every case. Each session is another step toward mastery.
  • What you wear isn’t as important as what you learn, with one exception. However, to avoid irritating more seasoned students learn how to tie your BJJ belt.

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