Beginners BJJ Training: White Belt

What to Expect as a White Belt

The beginning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student will enter into an in-depth martial training program that is both efficient, and practical. This part is not difficult it is in fact a pleasure. In the beginning, you are likely to learn something new almost every time you come to class, which is always very exciting. The hard part is that the BJJ art is large, and when you take into account variations that exist for nearly every body type around nearly every technique it can become overwhelming. I liken the time as a white belt into blue belt promotion as being akin to an undergraduate education. It can take years to gain proficiency with a wide body of knowledge that will feel like completing about 120 credit hours!

Most white belts will achieve blue belt after about 150 hours of mat time. There are, of course, exceptions to these rules. Some folks get more training value out of an hour than others, and some folks are just better athletes, but you should never let this discourage you. You will not be far from the average if you take your time and listen to your teachers. At three classes a week 150 or so hours is realizable in about a year. Do not be in a rush, you should enjoy your training time. And just as our fathers told us years ago, only the hard things have value.

In the end, a white belt will be expected to be able to escape headlocks, mounts, and side positions that are reasonably contested, as well as understand a self defense strategy from their backs and on top in side or mount position. The white belt will have proficiency with a number of sweeps, and finishes. But will not be expected to regularly defeat a lot of his or her classmates in training. Instead, cool and collected practice while attempting to accomplish technique-based solutions to grappling puzzles is what we are looking for. Remember that I did not say defeating people, or numbers of tap-outs. This is entirely beside the point. We will be grading skills, not fight wins. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is not about a "fight club".

Grading is a dynamic principle that is judged by senior students and the head instructor. There is no one checklist of hurdles to clear. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, like many other arts, such as high-level musicianship or gymnastics, requires the eyes of skilled mentors taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses and guiding you as best as possible toward improving. Trust in your teachers and relax and enjoy your time on the mat.

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