To surmise some of the first things I learned being a new student of BJJ, I will write it in a list format.
Lesson 1: If you don’t bother to seek out a training partner, chances are you will be left without one.
Lesson 2: Leave your ego at the door, there will always be people who know things that you do not, and especially when you’re starting out, almost everyone is far better than you. It will stay that way for a while. The faster you accept it, the easier it becomes to accept and love yourself and have fun learning BJJ instead of constantly beating yourself up over your failures.
Lesson 3: You’re going to fail. A lot. It’s normal. Just try to improve, and learn from your mistakes.
Lesson 4: If you have something you’re self-conscious about, remember: it only becomes a disability or disadvantage if you allow yourself to make it a disability or disadvantage. Use what is different about you to your advantage.
Lesson 5: Size, strength, and flexibility aren’t everything, but they sure as hell help. One of the main things I love about BJJ is that you can neutralize the playing field and even use someone’s size to your advantage. But at the end of the day, it’s still far easier to lift someone up who weighs 100 lbs rather than 200 lbs. Good technique is among the most important factors of a grapple, but strength, reach, and size are not irrelevant. Consider those when grappling, and don’t get too discouraged.
Lesson 6: Never underestimate your opponent. That’s a sign of ignorance, and a recipe to get your ass kicked.
Lesson 7: Tapping is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that that particular grappling session ended badly for you and you probably made a mistake. And don’t keep score of taps. Make sure to tap whenever you need to. Or you can, you know, permanently injure yourself and look like a prideful fool. At the end of the day, it’s your choice.
Lesson 8: Stretch before class. It can prevent unnecessary injuries. It also helps me to relax.
Lesson 9: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions are good. Just don’t interrupt when someone is speaking.
Lesson 10: Don’t let anyone intimidate you, and keep calm. If you’re up against a blue, purple, brown, or black belt, especially your sensei, think of it as the perfect opportunity to improve your techniques, not as a death sentence. Remember to breathe and don’t panic. They’re not out to hurt you, but they are out to teach you. Let them.
Lesson 11: Seek out the students with colour on their belt. Grapple and train with them as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you did wrong or what they did to tap you out after the session. It’s their duty to help the newer students just as much as it is your duty to learn from them.
Lesson 12: If you can’t keep up with the drills, it’s perfectly fine. Just give it your best shot, and keep at it. Again, if you’re not sure you’re doing a drill correctly, ask someone. Don’t develop bad habits. Eventually, you will get better at them and you will be able to keep up with your classmates.
Lesson 13: Practice outside of class time. Maybe you’re tired after the class, or think that you know what you went over in class by heart. Chances are, you don’t. If you don’t have an accessible training partner, go over the drills or just practice solo and go over what you’ve learned. Practice makes perfect.
Lesson 14: Shower after class. Seriously, go shower. Trust me on this one. And wash your gi, too. Everyone will appreciate it.
Lesson 15: You are often the last one to notice how much you’ve improved. Your peers that you’ve been training and grappling with for months might not say it, but they will notice the things that you have improved on. You are often your worst critic. Don’t get discouraged, just keep at it. You will surprise yourself with your strength and determination.
I hope these observations are helpful to anyone new at BJJ or any martial art like I myself am. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment and send me feedback!