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Starting BJJ: Tips for new whitebelts 

If you’re hoping to brush up on your self-defense skills, you’re in luck! On January 4 2022, Gracie Botany will officially open its doors. Our academy teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the world’s most respected martial arts. 

A new year and a new academy means new students. Anyone who practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) will tell you how gratifying it is, but no one who practices it will tell you it’s easy. Many new students instantly fall in love with BJJ, but it’s not uncommon for new students to feel a bit overwhelmed.

And that’s OK! That’s a perfectly normal response to a new environment. If you’re thinking about starting martial arts training, these are some tips you should know to help ease you in. 

gracie brazilian jiu jitsu botany academy

But wait, what’s BJJ again?

BJJ is a unique martial art. The first thing to know is that there is no striking in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a self-defence system entirely designed around grappling. Unlike Judo, from which it evolved, most of that grappling occurs on the floor.

This is an important distinction. You may have heard that, more than other martial arts, Jiu-Jitsu favours technique over size. This is in large part achieved by the ground-based aspect of BJJ. Take a larger aggressor to the ground and they’re less able to utilize their power and weight advantage. 

The other key outcome of this is the intensity with which you’re able to spar with opponents in BJJ. Most injuries in martial arts occur due to unprotected strikes to the head, but Jiu-Jitsu features no striking. Other injuries occur in grappling arts that focus on slamming your opponent to the ground, like Judo or wrestling. Takedowns are an important element of BJJ, but a much smaller part of it. As a result, your injury risk from training is dramatically reduced.

Frequently asked Jiu-Jitsu questions 

Here are some brief answers to recurring questions asked by new students. As always, if ever you have any questions feel free to ask Sav or any other Gracie Botany coach. 

How often should I train?

This is a hard one to answer, because it depends on your circumstances. Ideally, new students will train with us at Gracie Botany 2-4 times a week. With that said, your situation may only allow you to train once a week. Remember: One session is better than zero sessions. 

Some new students go the other way and try to train six days a week as soon as they begin. The enthusiasm is great, but be aware that this can lead to burnout. 

How long does it take to get a black belt?

The question is always asked! Again, there are many variables. If you train consistently, you can expect to receive your black belt in between 10 and 15 years. There are some who get it earlier, and many who take longer. There’s a famous saying in BJJ that says more than I can: “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.” 

Do I suck at Jiu-Jitsu?

No! As you can tell by the lengthy timeframe in which people achieve their black belt, it takes a long time to truly understand Jiu-Jitsu. You won’t be an expert immediately. Remember to stay humble and remember that martial arts is a constant learning process. 

Jiu-Jitsu etiquette

Some things you should know as you start your martial arts journey.

Hygiene matters: Jiu-Jitsu is about grappling, which means a lot of close contact. Make sure your Gi is washed, your nails are cut and your hygiene is in check. For the good of your training partners!

Tap early, tap often: There is zero shame in being submitted in Jiu-Jitsu. Everyone does it. Tapping out early ensures that injuries don’t happen. Remember that if you’re submitted, you made several mistakes that got you in a position to be submitted. Think about how you got into such a bad position rather than trying unscientifically to power out.

Breathe! This is an important one. One of the biggest mistakes new white belts make is to resist by tensing up. This exerts a lot of energy, and teaches you nothing about applying Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Remember to keep breathing as you spar. Instead of tensing up, think critically about how you can get out of the position you’re in. Jiu-Jitsu is about being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

If you’re in South Sydney and are interested in martial arts training, come into Gracie Botany any time for a free trial class.