Starting a new and unfamiliar martial art can be a tough challenge for anyone, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no different. The collective unfamiliarity with positions, movements and the physical requirements can be a daunting task for the new practitioner. Thankfully however, for those that are beginners there are some universal truths to remember that will assist you in you journey.
Stay relaxed– Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on principles of efficiency and leverage, not strength. Due to their inexperience beginners will often attempt to “muscle” their way through a particular move set, only to find themselves exhausted when/if they complete it. Remember, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not like lifting weights; when finding yourself stuck in a particularly difficult position very rarely will using more strength yield positive results. On the contrary actually, that explosive movement usually leaves the beginner tired and vulnerable. So embrace the technique and new way of doing things, rather than focusing on making your way work.
Leave your ego at the door– Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a humbling experience for many people. The new practitioner frequently thinks of situations as merely Wins and Losses, rather than focusing on the ultimate goal: learning. Don’t get caught in the trap of basing your progress on how frequently (or infrequently) someone “beats” you. Focusing on how many times you’ve been tapped or whom tapped whom will hinder your growth as it takes the focus away from where it should be. Rather, focus your attention on the things that got you into that position and how you can avoid those errors in the future. It can be disheartening realizing that you are unprepared or at a disadvantage, especially for those individuals with a mental image of how they would react in a particular situation. But keep your goal in mind, you are there to learn-NOT to prove anything. In order for you to progress simply focus on being the best student and training partner you can be, the rest will fall into place with time.
Ask Questions– Learning something new has its own inherent set of difficulties; don’t compound them by refusing to ask for clarification on things you don’t understand. Many times the new practitioner will refrain from asking questions out of fear of being judged or looked down upon. Never feel that your question isn’t valid, because frequently others have the exact question. It’s quite common to see new students hesitantly raise their hand and murmur a barely audible question. Upon the instructors repeating the question for the class to hear there will invariably be many heads nodding and people voicing their agreement. They had the same questions as you! You can’t expect to get better without practice, and the same goes for learning new things. If you have a question, ask! Rest assured neither the instructor(s) nor other students will judge you for it, they will actually be appreciative that you are paying attention and trying to improve.
By: Kenneth Page