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The BJJ White Belt
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The BJJ White Belt

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It takes a certain element of courage for anyone to just walk into a Martial Arts dojo. Most people are extremely apprehensive due to the stories they have heard about different Martial Arts academies. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is widely known for its exceptionally humble and welcoming atmosphere. Anyone who begins a BJJ journey will be pleasantly surprised by the kind and enthusiastic nature of all the members involved.

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What This Article Covers:

When a new student decides to join the ranks of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they start off as a White belt, which is the beginner phase. In BJJ all students wear a Gi, which is a type of Martial Arts uniform, a belt is tied around their waist as it is used to show the rank of the student. The White belt is the first in a series of bjj belts that the student will come to earn. As a White belt the student will have to learn a series of fundamental techniques in order to help them with the overall understanding of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about. 

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HOW THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Finding the courage to join a Jiu Jitsu academy is the first step towards becoming a Martial Artist. It can be quite common for beginners to feel uncomfortable when they begin training in a sport like Jiu Jitsu, but after a short period of time they soon come to realise just how supportive the BJJ community really is. Beginners must set aside their egos and be open to learning from different instructors of all ages and sizes.

The most common reason that students begin learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is because they have had some form of abuse that has happened to them. Whether that is physical, mental or online abuse, beginners will come to an academy to help build their confidence so they can persevere on into their lives. Other students begin training in BJJ purely for the interest in the sport, which derives from watching the UFC or online grappling forms like Judo. Although it can be extremely unnerving to walk into a Jiu Jitsu academy, it does not take long for a student to feel the gravity of how integral and humble the Martial Art truly is.

Beginners tend to struggle with the basic concepts when they first start BJJ, this can be extremely unsettling. With the right guidance and nurture, White belts will soon learn some of the more basic fundamental movements that will help their growth exponentially. Beginners will be taught many different Jiu Jitsu White belt moves, many of these techniques are just simple but important facets of the larger Jiu Jitsu puzzle. 

EARLY GOALS IN BJJ

Most beginners will need to set themselves bjj White belt goals in order to navigate their way through the complicated series of movements. Beginners can easily lose their way in BJJ, so it is extremely important to stay focused and work on one goal at a time. If beginners want to improve to the point where they can become a bjj Blue belt, then dedication, continuity and technical aptitude is what is required.

White belts are often extremely hard on themselves as they are still making excuses for their technical inability. It is important to focus on certain goals like; controlling a position, escaping a position, focusing on your balance and posture or executing an attack whether that's a sweep or a submission. It is when a beginner tries to do too much or tries techniques above their level of comprehension, that they find themselves lost in the sequence. 

There are a multitude of simple concepts that a beginner should be working on, in order to improve on their BJJ. Let's have a look at some of the aspects that a beginner should master.

  • Warmups: There are many different movements involved with a Jiu Jitsu warm up. Beginners should be working extensively on these drills as they are all directly linked to specific moments within a roll they are having with an opponent.
  • One technique at a time: It is extremely important for beginners to focus on mastering one movement at a time. Sometimes beginners can try and retain too much information at one time, keeping it simple and repping the basics first will always put a beginner on a better pathway towards reaching the Black belt bjj level.
  • Use technique: Often when beginners start their journey into BJJ, they will use too much strength. At first it seems like using all your muscle power is the right way to go about it, but in actual fact it is more detrimental to the situation. When a student uses too much of their strength their body becomes rigid making it easier for their opponent to unbalance them. Another problem is they will often use too much of their energy and become weak, so using technique rather than strength is a very important lesson to learn early on.
  • Focus on control: Beginners should be mastering all of the basic control positions like mount, guard, side control and back control. It is extremely important to learn how to maximise the control of your opponent, this is so they cannot escape and you have the best chance of setting up more high percentage submissions.
  • Relax and breathe: One of the most important actions in BJJ is to stay relaxed and don't forget to breathe. A beginner must be able to control their breathing so they can give themself the best opportunity to use one hundred percent of their athleticism. Learning to stay calm and not panic is vital for survival on the Jiu Jitsu mats.
  • Posture: Another concept that beginners will need to master is generating the ability to posture. Students will need to utilise good posture in order to become harder to sweep and so they can stay safe from submission.

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Is White Belt Good?

The white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) represents the starting point of one's grappling journey. While it may signify a beginner's level, it is an essential phase in the learning process. At this stage, practitioners build a foundation by learning the basics and fundamental techniques of BJJ. Being a white belt is not a measure of ineptitude, but rather a beginning—every black belt started as a white belt.

White Belt with Black Stripe Meaning

In some BJJ academies, a white belt with a black stripe is used to signify a student's readiness to transition to the next belt level. The black stripe can be seen as an acknowledgment of the student's understanding of basic techniques and principles. It can also represent a certain level of commitment and consistency in training. Each school may have its distinct criteria for awarding the black stripe, so it's essential to understand the specifics within one's academy.

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HOW TO EARN STRIPES

Most beginners that become increasingly interested in BJJ will start to wonder how long does it take to get a Blue belt in bjj. This sort of promotion can take anywhere from one year to five years. All students are different and usually have different learning abilities, some students are naturally skilled so a promotion can be rather quick. Other students are not so gifted, so they will have to show a more extreme dedication and consistency. On average it takes a student at least five months per stripe, meaning the average practitioner will achieve the rank of Blue belt in roughly two years.

There is a belt ranking system that is incorporated throughout the progression of BJJ. All students will receive four stripes on their White belts before they can be promoted to a Blue belt. The criteria involved for earning each stripe will change among different instructors. Some instructors will need to see certain techniques mastered, while others will award stripes due to the hard work and continuity a student shows. The main focus for White belts to earn stripes, is to just keep showing up, keep practising, keep asking questions and never give up.

Some instructors will adopt a curriculum of techniques that are broken down into separate stripes, some of these techniques may include;

  • Control Positions: Students will be expected to learn positions like Mount, Side control, Back control, Guard, Knee Ride, Kesagatme, North South and Turtle.
  • Escapes: Students will find it important to learn certain escapes like the Umpa escape, the Elbow escape and the Trap and Roll escape. 
  • Sweeps: Students will need to master sweeps like the Scissor sweep, the Hip Bump sweep, the Kimura sweep and the Omoplata sweep.
  • Submissions: Students will need to enhance their ability and work on submissions like; the Armbar, the Triangle, the Kimura, the Americana, the Rear Naked Choke, the Bow and Arrow choke, the Cross Collar choke and the Guillotine.
  • Passing the Guard: Students will practice passes like the Toreando pass, the Knee cut pass, the Standing pass, the Bull Pass and the Tripod pass. Students will also work through variations of breaking the guard.
  • Submission defense: Students will need to work on one of the most important aspects of Jiu Jiu, submission defense. They will work through various defenses of the Armbar, Triangle, Guillotine, Rear Naked choke, Kimura and Americana.
  • Standup game: Students will need to work on basic footwork, attaining dominant grips, breaking grips and working through takedowns like the Single Leg, the Double Leg, the Foot sweep and the Ankle Pick.

Some academies will have a different set of standards to adhere to, it basically comes down to the individual philosophy of each instructor. Earning their way to the next level, students will need to represent the ideology that their instructors follow. This includes all health and safety guidelines that are conveyed, all clubs have codes of conduct that needs to be upheld by all of the members.

If beginners are to be in line for promotion they need to form a level of technical aptitude. It is quite common for beginners to be taught fundamental principles, in order to help them develop their skills. Students will need to learn how to control their opponents from all of the basic control positions. They will also need to know how to defend submissions and escape from certain positions. It is also a requirement to learn some sweeping, guard passing, submissions and takedowns. Among all of these skills learnt beginners must also learn how to safely train in their academy, this means knowing when to let go of submissions and knowing when to tap themselves. 

One Stripe White Belt BJJ

Earning the first stripe on a white belt in BJJ is a significant milestone for many practitioners. It signifies progress and a deepening understanding of the art's foundational techniques. The journey from a plain white belt to one with a stripe shows a student's commitment to learning, regular training, and a grasp of essential BJJ concepts. While it's only the beginning, that first stripe is a confidence booster and motivates many to persevere in their BJJ journey.

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WHITE BELT COMPETITOR  

Some academies will reward students that compete extensively in tournaments. Instructors will often hand out stripes to their White belts on the back of competitive success. In some cases they will earn rewards even if they are not successful, but they are brave enough to keep on competing. The competition process can be a daunting one but if a student decides to go down that path, it can be extremely advantageous. When a student competes regularly it is a great way to battle test their game style, which translates into fast tracking their promotion through to the next belt level. 

There are many substantial benefits for beginners who decide to compete. Entering a competition is like jumping in the deep end of a swimming pool, if you don't swim you will drown. Competitions are the same, sometimes when a beginner puts themself in the middle of the mats, they will often learn to fight with a considerable amount of heart. Anyone who has competed before will tell you just how amazing the Jiu Jitsu community is, it is a very humbling experience that can help a beginners game exponentially. 

Competing can also start at the junior level, where children will often show little fear of competition. Many of the kids Jiu Jitsu belts like the grey belt in jiu jitsu or the orange belt in bjj are prime examples of what White belts should be presenting. Sometimes it can take a child to show us how to be brave, and following that line of thought will give White belts more confidence as they begin to grow within the art of Jiu Jitsu.

STEPPING UP TO THE NEXT LEVEL

After a certain amount of time and ticking all the boxes an instructor sets, a White belt will earn a promotion to Blue belt. It is quite common to see White belts feeling like they don't deserve their promotion, but trusting in their instructors is what they must have faith in. They must understand that a Black belt instructor has a good idea of whether their student is ready for their next belt level or not. It is time for that beginner to embrace the change and be the level that their instructor has entrusted them to be. 

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jiu jitsu white belt

Earning that promotion is one of the most exciting times that a practitioner will have. Everyone remembers their first belt promotion, it is a time where they are finally off the bottom of the ladder and are beginning their climb towards the higher levels. Students will need to enhance their focus and work even harder, because each level is a step up from the last. With the new promotion comes new challenges and new expectations, so students should openly seek guidance and trust in the senior members at their academy to help them in their development. So keep pushing towards the ultimate goal, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that Martial Art that has a way of giving out extraordinary rewards, all a student has to do is show up, be respectful, work hard and have fun.

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