5 Difficult Concepts For BJJ Beginners To Grasp
BJJ is a mass of concepts, techniques, strategies and positions, but there are some key techniques that are pretty tough to get a hold of (and keep hold of when rolling) when you first start.
1. Don’t roll over.
The first time I rolled after having been doing BJJ for 45 minutes total, I found myself trying to barrel roll to escape a side control or a mount. Almost every time I did, it ended up with me gifting the guy my back. I got rear naked choked time and time again. It took a blue belt I was sparring with to tell me to stop trying to roll out, be more patient, and not to panic. My instinct was to roll away, but after a few classes I’ve stopped myself from doing it and am working on sweeps and escapes instead.
2. Protecting my arms when in someone’s guard.
Another recurring problem I faced (and am still facing), was when I was in someone’s guard I wanted to grab hold of their gi or arms, but my posture was not correct. I was too close to them, so when I grabbed their lapel, I found myself in triangles and armbars often. My instructor saw me doing this and showed me how easy it was to put on a triangle when the person sticks their arm out thoughtlessly when in your guard. I’m now working on keeping better posture while in my opponent’s guard, and being more careful with where I put my arms to try avoid some of those easy triangles and armbars.
3. Going on offense way too early.
You practice a new choke or lock, and want to get to it as soon as you have a barely semi-dominant position. I was going for lapel chokes and armbars when I had barely got halfway through a pass, and couldn’t land them obviously. Even worse, I ended up compromising my defense completely by not thinking about where my weight and limbs were. I’m not there yet, but have been trying to ensure that I worry more about position and control, rather than going full out for a lock or choke and ending up getting tapped needlessly.
4. Push and pulling.
A guy has me in side-control, and to get him off me, I’m pushing him this way and pulling him the other. Two minutes later he still has me in side-control and I’m f-ing exhausted and my grips are half numb. I wasn’t getting anywhere by simply applying force with zero leverage or understanding, but at the time I didn’t know what else to do. I still don’t have a good idea how to get someone off me easily, but I’m learning to wait and think and move, not just push and pull until I can’t breathe.
5. Thinking a tap means I’m good.
The first session, I managed to get someone slightly more experienced to tap with a forced guillotine. It wasn’t clean a clean choke at all. It was not technical and it barely worked. But I took it as a sign that I could push through and force submissions. It worked occasionally, but almost every time I roll, it’s an endless rhythm of me tapping that damn mat. I make sure now (4 classes in) that I remember that pretty much everyone there, weaker or less athletic, can play with me with impunity. It keeps me grounded in a way I think is very important for being accepted to the group.
This article was written by Joe Thorpe. You can check out his new BJJ Blog here.
If you would like to share your BJJ ideas, thoughts or stories shoot us a message on Facebook or Twitter.