I remember my first session vividly. I was an apprehensive 19-year-old who had no experience in any martial art or in-fact any contact sport. I was nervous, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, unsure of where to sit, what to do or even say. I just smiled when people looked my way, kept my head down and focused on the technique being taught; the last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself.
“When we go to the ground, you are in my world. The ground is the ocean, I am the shark, and most people don’t even know how to swim.”
At the time, the gym I joined had no classes for beginners; so it was straight in at the deep end for me. Let’s face it I was out of my depth. Just like the fish who had swum too far from the shore, I found myself surrounded by sharks. In hindsight, that wasn’t a bad thing, but at the time it was a big deal! Having said that it didn’t put me off. If anything I was inspired as they were all in my position once; it’s all a matter of perspective and I chose to take motivation from the fact, not frustration.
As a beginner, it is important to remember that if you want to get good at Jiu-Jitsu, you have to do Jiu-Jitsu. There is no miracle formula; it’s about investing your time into your training. Similarly, you are a beginner and therefore know nothing, this is a blessing if you look at it the right way as everything is exciting and new! View everything, including being “tapped” as a learning experience, instead of a beat-down from a higher belt. If you adopt this mindset, you will never find yourself disheartened or un-motivated.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.”
Whatever the reason you decided to start training Jiu-Jitsu you will find yourself embarking on a journey of self-development; whether you realise it or not. Taking my own experience as an example, during the time I’ve trained Jiu-Jitsu I’ve noticed that my self-confidence has skyrocketed; something which used to be a struggle for me after a period of illness left me underweight.
Since I began training I haven’t looked back, I’ve transformed my life from being a sedentary university student to an active Jiu-Jitsu competitor. Although I’m still a white belt, the lessons I’ve learned so far have been invaluable. You find that problems you once had seemed trivial after a hard training session. Jiu-Jitsu teaches perseverance, commitment and problem-solving amongst many other cross-over skills that impact everyday life. Besides, there’s no greater way to de-stress… Oh, and you meet some awesome people too.
During my time training Jiu-Jitsu, I’ve learned a handful of things that I believe could benefit anyone who is at the beginning of their Jiu-Jitsu journey. Number 5 resonates with me the most as I suffer from lower back problems.
1. Leave your ego at the door, or at home!
Seriously, don’t walk into your new academy or gym thinking you’re going to beat anyone, at best you’ll survive. Approach training with an open mind, treat everything as a lesson, not a beat-down.
2. Practice makes perfect
With Jiu-Jitsu you get out of it what you put in. The best way to improve is to be consistent. Try to maintain a regular training schedule; this way you can practice what you’ve learned so far.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Your instructor and team-mates are there to help. As a beginner, you can learn something from everyone; take advantage of that. However, if you are going to ask a question make sure it’s appropriate to do so, for example, wait till after you’ve finished rolling instead of interrupting the roll.
4. Write techniques down
Keeping notes is a great way of solidifying your understanding, as well as tracking what you’ve learned so far. Personally, I use the notes section on my phone after class; this way I can access them quickly if needed.
5. Look after your body
Jiu-Jitsu is tough on your body. That’s a fact. As a beginner, it’s a good idea to invest in your body before training takes its toll. Yoga is a perfect way to keep your body in-tune; reducing the risk of injury.
Jiu-Jitsu offers a variety of things that appeal to people for different reasons, seek out the reason that brings you enjoyment and embrace it fully! For me, it was the constant state of learning. I have a naturally curious mind and enjoy the experience of expanding my own personal knowledge; it just so happens that through Jiu-Jitsu I have also discovered more about myself than I thought was possible. Since I started training in December 2016 I couldn’t imagine doing anything else; this is my passion.
I look at it this way. If you enjoy something, you should put everything you’ve got into the pursuit of your goals. Do what makes you happy, not what other people expect you to do. Whatever the reason you want to begin your Jiu-Jitsu journey; it’ll be worthwhile.
Does this post resonate with you? Perhaps you are a beginner unsure of what to expect, or a long-term grappler reminiscing their first step on their Jiu-Jitsu journey! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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