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White to Blue Belt BJJ
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White to Blue Belt BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most complex Martial Arts in the world, so you can imagine how daunting it must be to approach an academy. Many people might think that the gym is full of hotheads or bully's looking for a fight, but it is actually the complete opposite. BJJ is probably the most humbled Martial Art of them all, as everyone involved is extremely friendly and welcoming. 

For more guidance on traveling that road to Blue Belt, check out Travis Lutter's The Road to Blue Belt from BJJ Fanatics.

white belt to blue belt bjj

When someone makes the choice to join a BJJ academy, they are in for an exciting journey. When you start at a BJJ school, White belt is the first of the bjj belts that you will wear. It symbolises the beginning, and a student will try and improve over time through hard work, dedication, concentration and continuity.

What This Article Covers:

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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Often new students that have already trained in other sports or Martial Arts will find the BJJ experience humbling. Even an experienced Muay Thai fighter will find themselves completely out of their depth when it comes to ground fighting. To ensure that a White belt can progress, they must be willing to put their ego aside and become an open book. 

When a student that has no sporting background joins an academy, it's usually because they have been bullied or have had trouble with mental health or domestic violence. It can be extremely daunting for someone under those stresses to be able to trust training in a high intensity Martial Art like BJJ. The good news is that soon after walking through the door, they will feel at ease as their confidence rises with every lesson and every friendship.

It can be extremely embarrassing for a new student, as they will often struggle with basic movements. Another issue for a White belt is how to tie Jiu Jitsu belt, it can be a common occurrence to tie their belt in an awkward fashion. In most cases someone at their academy will offer them guidance and help them fulfill any expectations.

GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS

Building from a White belt to a Blue belt has a number of twists and turns, it is always good to set bjj White belt goals so it gives a student something to aim for. White belts can seem to get lost during their progression, so it's important for them to take it one step at a time. 

Mastering one move at a time is a more conceivable idea as opposed to biting off more than they can chew. White belts are also very hard on themselves as they can set their expectations too high, leaving them vulnerable for when they fail. In Jiu Jitsu to fail is not to fail, it is simply an opportunity to learn, sometimes they must make several mistakes before they can learn through muscle memory to make the right moves. 

Many successful high level practitioners set goals when they were developing from the White belt stage. As a White belt tries to rise up through the ranks, there are many goals a new comer could implement like:

FLOW ROLLS

A good idea for a White belt is to learn how to flow roll. Engaging in a flow roll means to explore multiple positions during a simulated roll, it is easy to understand positions when you are not fighting for your survival. Flow rolls are designed for training partners to practice transitions on each other in a simulated roll situation.

MASTER ONE TECHNIQUE 

White belts should focus on one technique at a time and try to master it, when it is time to practice a technique repetition is the key. It's a good idea to set goals during roll time, instead of rolling to submission everytime focus on guard retention, guard passing or whatever aspect you want to improve on.

ROLL WITH THE HIGHER BELTS

White belts don't do themselves any favours by shying away from the higher belts, in order to progress as fast as possible they must jump in the deep end of the pool. Often White belt students are scared to roll with high belts because of what they can do on the mats, the fact remains that higher belts will always roll safer then the White belts. Rolling with a higher belt will ensure safety and will give an opportunity for the student to learn in a one on one situation. Although some gyms are funny about a White belt asking a Black belt for a roll, in this day and age it is highly encouraged among most academies. 

FORGET THE STRENGTH

A common problem for White belts is that they try to use all their strength during a roll. It is imperative to learn early on that calmness and body positioning far outweighs tensing strength. A  student that is using all their muscle power will always get extremely tired, as lactic acid will build up in the muscles quickly. If a student is rigid then they become easier to sweep, this is a good lesson for White belts to learn. 

YOUTUBE WARRIORS

A YouTube warrior is someone who watches all the coolest and advanced techniques available online. Although instructional videos are available with ease, it can be a terrible mistake for White belts to make. A White belt should be focusing on the foundations of Jiu Jitsu and not the high level maneuvers. If a White belt spends their time practising berimbolos and heel hooks they will often miss the fundamental principles involved with guard passing, escaping positions and transitioning with the correct amount of pressure.

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  • Rolling breakdowns & more.

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THE PROGRESSION SYSTEM

I bet you are wondering how long does it take to get a Blue belt in bjj, well there is no short answer as the time will vary from club to club, and most academies have a slightly different criteria based on the philosophy of the head coach. One thing can be sure, work hard, be humble, ask questions and don't stop the repetition. Most academies assess their students through a ranking system that is measured through stripes awarded and placed on their belts. 

Let's have a look at the criteria needed for each stripe.

FIRST STRIPE

To achieve the first stripe on a White belt, they must show aptitude in the following criteria, and just remember these techniques will vary from club to club. 

  • Umpa Escape: The student must be able to execute a bridging escape, which will happen when someone has full mount on them.
  • Elbow Escape: This is another fundamental escape from full mount using guard retention techniques.
  • Basic Positions: Students will need to learn basic positioning like; full mount, side control, back control and guard.
  • Americana Lock: This is a basic submission that can be applied from mount or side control.
  • Hip Bump Sweep: Students will have to learn to sweep their opponents from guard using a hip movement technique.
  • Basic Guard Break: Learning how to break guard can be tricky, so utilising the cat stretch to a knee staple is very important.

SECOND STRIPE

Earning the second stripe on a BJJ White Belt will come anywhere from six months to a year of experience. Here are some bjj White belt tips for helping the progression.

  • Basic Guard Passing: Students will start to learn how to pass the guard using knee staple or knee cut passes.
  • Body Positioning: Students will learn other positions like; knee on Belly, north south, turtle and kesa gatame (scarf hold) they will also begin to utilise better pressure in mount and side control.
  • Scissor Sweep: Students will learn the knee shield and how to execute a basic scissor sweep.
  • Guillotine Submission and Defense: Students will begin to practise the basics to a front headlock style of choke called the Guillotine. Students will also learn how to defend the Guillotine choke.
  • Back Control: Students will learn the basics behind setting up back control and utilising seatbelt control and collar grips to execute a Rear Naked Choke.
  • Technical Standup: Students will learn how to use the technical get up from when they have someone in their guard. This technique is used when an opponent has a good base and is extremely hard to sweep.

THIRD STRIPE

Earning the third stripe, a student should be starting to understand Jiu Jitsu more competently. They should be good at a sweep and a submission as well as showing good defense and guard retention. Here are some techniques required to help the progression.

  • Tight Control: Students should be showing that they can use good controls for mount, side control and back control.
  • Closed Guard/Open Guard: Students should be learning the ins and outs of both of these types of guards.
  • Toreando Pass: This pass is a must for navigating through an opponent's open guard.
  • Cross Collar Choke: Students will learn how to utilise collar grips to execute a basic cross collar choke from guard and mount.
  • Armbar: Students should be learning how to secure arm locks from guard and from mount.
  • Armbar Defense: Learning how to defend arm locks is extremely important and must be taken seriously.

FOURTH STRIPE

Earning the fourth stripe on a White belt is an exciting time, as it means you are really close to the Blue belt promotion. To earn the fourth stripe students should have learnt techniques like these.

  • Stand Up Techniques: Students should be accustomed to how to stand in base and utilise dominant grips. They should also be working on single and double leg takedowns.
  • Bull Pass: Students should be starting to understand the passing game better as they learn how to bull pass their opponents.
  • Bow and Arrow Choke: This technique requires a good amount of back control as the student utilises collar and pants grips to apply the choke.
  • Kimura and Kimura Sweep: In this double edged technique, Students will learn how to utilise the Kimura grip to execute a sweep from guard and use the Kimura submission. They will also learn the submission application from side control.
  • Transitioning: Students will learn the intricacies and the importance of transitioning between all positions. 
  • Triangle Submission: This submission is a high percentage submission that is first learnt from guard, where a student uses his legs to choke his opponent. 

Some of these techniques can change at different academies, as all instructors are different. To earn a Blue belt not all of these techniques have to be mastered, the student just has to have experience in them. There are certain requirements that are needed so a student can be graded to the next level. 

A student must have mastered at least one submission and one sweep, but they still need to know a finish from each position and have a backup sweep. They also need to be able to escape from all major positions like guard, mount, side control and back control. Students should also have good control positions and understand how to use the coss face, the underhook, the overhook and the necktie. They must also have good posture and have a decent guard pass, as well as showing some competence on their feet. 

Students must also show a level of maturity to earn a promotion to Blue belt. They should be showing signs of intelligence within their game and be understanding of how to stay safe and safely train with other members.

THE COMPETITION PROCESS

At some clubs competing is a must if they want to earn a promotion, where at other clubs it is a choice. Either way, competing can be a good way to help become mature in Jiu Jitsu terms. When a student delves into competing it is a sure fire way to battle test their game style and techniques learnt. 

When entering a competition the student must decide between competing in the Gi, NoGi or both, they will also have a choice in competing in their weight class or the open weight class. Students will be divided by rank and age as students under 30 will compete in the Adults division while over 30 is divided into separate masters categories and seniors categories as they get older. 

Competing can be extremely exhilarating but also dangerous, as opponents are there to win. It is most definitely a good way to impress your coaches and fast track your promotion, especially if students are winning Gold medals. 

ARE YOU A BJJ FANATICS INSIDER? IF NOT, YOU’RE MISSING OUT!

Take a deep dive on one specific skill per month with the top instructors in the BJJ Fanatics family.

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  • Private Lesson (Masterclass)
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EMBRACE THE BELT

Often students will feel like they don't deserve their promotion, it is always hard to accept that they have reached the next level. There is a secret in how to become a Black belt in bjj and it is as simple as embracing the belt. What this means is when a coach promotes a student to the next level, whether they feel like they deserve it or not, they just have to step up to that level and use the confidence given by their instructors. 

MMA and Jiu Jitsu legend Travis Lutter has the plan for you to get to Blue Belt.  Get it here from BJJFanatics.com!

bjj white belt to blue belt

Moving from White belt to Blue belt truly is an exciting time, as you finally move out of the field of "I know nothing", to the greater field of "I still know nothing", in terms of becoming a Black belt. The good news is the student is out of the beginner phase and is a quarter of the way towards the end goal. Becoming a Blue belt is a time to listen more closely and step up the training, because at the higher level of understanding Jiu Jitsu becomes an even more fun and exciting Martial Art. So keep the training going and don't give up, because there is rewards at every turn throughout a student's progression in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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