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10 Struggles Of The New Jiu Jitsu White Belt

Starting anything new can be daunting at first, and this is even more pronounced when that something is a fight sport like Jiu-Jitsu.  Just walking through the door can be a struggle in itself.  It’s a new environment, an environment really like no other.  Everyone is wearing these strange uniforms, they are sitting around in their little cliques, it seems as though they are speaking another language.  You’ll likely be asking yourself, ‘What am I meant to do?  Where am I meant to go?  How am I meant to behave?  What am I doing here?’  But if you can get past this initial awkwardness you’ll likely find yourself on an amazingly rewarding journey.

Below are 10 struggles of the new white belt, and don’t worry these are entirely normal.

  1. I Can’t Tie My Belt – Feeling like a child in preschool again, you’ll likely be asking your coach or classmates to tie your belt around your waist for sometime.  So get used to pulling your gi (Jiu-Jitsu uniform) closed, raising your arms and looking and feeling like a kid whose parent is putting their school pants on.
  2. What Is This Language Everyone Is Speaking? – That is the language of Jiu-Jitsu, and don’t worry, you’ll be proficient in it soon enough.  Just like any technical pursuit, there is a technical language that accompanies it.  So whilst during the coaches instruction you’ll likely have no idea of what is being said, you’ll start freaking out because you don’t know what is being asked of you, no stress, everyone goes through this at first.
  3. The Guard Can Be An Awkward Position At First – So you want me to kneel and let that person wrap their legs around my waist?  The guard has been the butt of many jokes, and rightly so, from an outsiders view its sexual appearance can’t be denied, and the human-to-human contact it requires is awkward, but once you realise you can kill a person from this position you’ll happily go there.
  4. It’s Time To Roll – Rolling is the Jiu-Jitsu equivalent to sparring in boxing.  It is basically you and your opponent wrestling in attempt to the apply the techniques you are learning for the purpose of attempting to dominate your opponent.  But if you’re new to rolling, and have limited techniques, you’ll surely know that this is far from your comfort zone.  But like anything it gets easier, you get a better feel for it over time, and as your technique repertoire expands it will surely become your absolute favourite part of training.
  5. I Can’t Breathe – RELAX!!!  Again, when you’re new to Jiu-Jitsu and someone is trying to physically dominate you it is likely you’re going to fight from instinct; your adrenalin will drop, you’ll tense up, you’ll hold your breath, and you’ll get stupidly tired very fast.  Remember to relax, breath, and keep thinking.
  6. Your Washing Machine Is Working Harder Than You – You think you’re working hard at training?  Spare a thought for your washing machine.  Your gis will need to washed daily, or at least every second day, and if you don’t wash them on the regular you’ll likely find yourself sitting by yourself on the mats more often than not.  No-one wants to train with the smelly person.
  7. I Shouldn’t Have Eaten That Tuna Sandwich Before Training – Eat light before training.  It is absolutely the worst feeling when you are trying to fend off an opponent who is trying to choke you and your tuna sandwich keeps travelling up your esophagus.
  8. This Person Feels Like 100kg+ – Why am I always stuck on the bottom?  Get used to it!  You’ll be spending a lot of time with people laying on top of you at first.  And somehow that 60kg guy always feels like 100kg.  Some good advice for a beginner is to learn some side control escapes…and learn them fast!!!
  9. I Smell Like 100 Men In A Sauna – Your deodorant has no power in the Academy after a good training session.  After each session you literally will have the majority of your classmates sweat making home in your gi.  Before heading back into your daily routine make sure to shower, or you will most definitely be avoided like the plague.
  10. The Morning After – That feeling of death after a big night on the town, you will experience something similar to that after your first few training sessions.  You will ache in muscles you never knew you had, it may hurt when you breather or cough, you’ll feel like you have been twisted like a human pretzel.  But just as your body does in any sporting or physical pursuit; over time it will strengthen, it will harden, your recovery will become faster, and as my coach says, ‘You will become like a callous’.

So I guess at this point I will ask you, have I put you off Jiu-Jitsu?  I sure hope not!  Just like many things in life, that old saying similarly applies to Jiu-Jitsu, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’.  And I, just as many other Jiu-Jitsu practitioners will attest, Jiu-Jitsu has been the single most positive influence in my life to this point.  The benefits to your life are substantial (that is a blog in itself), and trust me, if you can get past these early struggles you will have set yourself on an absolutely amazing path.




Thanks for reading and happy rolling,


Ryann Creary

Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts



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