1. Writing notes helps retain information significantly.
When we practise the movements on the mats, we start to understand the movement with our bodies, and start the process of growing our knowledge in one area. If you write notes on the technique it requires you to understand the technique in another way. You have to visualize the technique, write out each step, give yourself little cues on the different movements. These little cues may be something you thought of when you were repping the technique, usually the funnier the better as it becomes more memorable.
Not only does writing the technique out help with understanding, it also offers you a resource to look back on if you can’t quite remember a specific point. These notes written in your own hand will be great to look back on, but also you can add to them, expand on the movement, gain further understanding. To this point I would highly suggest reading the previous post on How to Write Notes. This post gives you a great base on how to write notes in a way you will be able to look back in a few years and still be able to understand what your White Belt mind tried to comprehend.
2. Focus on the basics when you start.
Jiu Jitsu, in my opinion is a lifestyle more than a martial art. More often than not you get hooked and you stick with it for the long haul. When you are first starting the basics may seem bland and boring but they are the foundation upon which you can build all great things. A good defence and solid understanding of a submission from each basic position and go a long way. There is an outstanding number of videos out there offering you the latest and greatest flash, but if you cant get out of mount, that Imanari roll you’ve been watching over and over probably isn’t the best use of your time. Start with developing a bridge that’s unstoppable, a shrimp that can get you the space whenever you need it. These basic techniques will save you more often then not. After that develop you mount escape game, develop it to a point that you would readily have someone in mount so that you can reverse the position. While developing these basics don’t forget to add some offensive techniques. Off your back develop some basics sweeps that allow you to better your position. Learn a submission from the base positions, full mount work on an armbar or head arm triangle strangle, from the bottom guard you have Kimura options or my personal favourite the Triangle Strangle. I’d even go so far as to suggest playing around with some basic leg locks when the opportunity arises. Leglocks are becoming more and more prevalent in this day and age, start developing an understanding of them early can save you from being caught of guard later in your Jiu Jitsu career.
3. Be a great training partner.
Being a great training partner can mean different things to different people and the mats are full of very different people. To me, being a good training partner is someone that is safe, understanding and patient. Being a safe training partner involves you limiting the risk of injuring your partner, through control, limiting strength and not forcing the tap. A safe training partner is also someone who can refrain using quick spazzy movements throughout a roll. These movements are quite possibly the number one cause of injuries on the mats, to yourself, your training partner and even surrounding groups. A safe partner is one that can offer advice without coming across as demeaning or insulting.
An understanding partner keeps their training partners injuries and physical capabilities at the forefront of their mind while repping, drilling and sparring. Understanding that your partner may not have the physical capabilities to perform a specific movement yet, and helping them adapt to the best of their ability fosters a good gym environment. Remember “a rising tide lifts all boats”, everyone has their own reasons for being on the mats, working together and understanding one another builds everyone up.
Being patient is probably the most important part of being a great training partner. You will find that your patience may be tested while repping a technique. Possibly you’re not getting it or your partner may be struggling, having patience will help slow it down and allow you to work through the move. Patience is a virtue, it will be tested, over and over throughout your journey, make sure to practice being a patient training partner. Your patience in the beginning will show others that come after you how to handle new people and it will build a club in which everyone will want to train.
Few things are harder on your body than injuries. Depending on the injury, you can be out for a few days, a few months, and even years. Now good thing is, injuries for the most part are preventable. Training in a club that actively looks out for your safety is a huge factor, this can mean having people watching during rolls to make sure people who are newer and haven’t yet learned to control their strength or speed are watched over and given constant reminders to ensure a safe roll. This can also mean reviewing safety protocols before each live sparring session. Whatever it happens to be, a club that puts member safety at the forefront generally makes for a great club to train at.
Now with injuries on the mind, picking your training partners is important. Who you train with plays a large part in injury prevention. If you have two brand new members rolling for the first time and not knowing what they are doing, the chances of one of them getting injured is significantly higher. In my club its not generally allowed to happen unless there is someone that is able to watch over the roll entirely. Newer members go with more experienced members to allow for a gradual introduction into the art and to prevent injuries that can occur as the more experienced members should be able to control the pace of the roll. If there is no experienced member to guide the roll giving them an objective such as one person breaks the guard and passes to half, and then it’s the person on bottoms turn to get out and recover full guard. This allows for the students to actively learn as well as stay relatively safe.
Make sure to keep yourself safe when it comes to picking training partners as well. People train for various reasons, some for the workout, some for the self defence aspect and some come for the social aspect. Whatever the reason make sure to train accordingly, when youre first starting out, training with higher belts is a great way to keep yourself safe as they should have enough control to keep both of you safe. Once you get some experience under you try rolling with various partners, some may surprise you with having great mat chemistry. Others you will immediately find you don’t gel with. Pick your training partner with this in mind and don’t feel obligated to have to roll with someone you don’t want to. Possibly because they are known to go a bit harder, or maybe they move to fast and youre not comfortable with that yet. Saying no to a roll is taking your safety into your own hands.
One thing that’s stuck when it comes to safety and training partners is, be the training partner you want to roll with. No one want to roll with the overly aggressive guy that injures everyone and soon enough that person will find themselves with no one to roll with or looking for a new club. Being the partner that youd like to train with brings about a lot of variables that are dependant upon what you want out of training. Maybe you want to compete, picking the social butterfly probably isn’t the best pairing to gear towards a competition. Though at times they could be, changing up who you train with can build the community, and maybe foster an unexpected friendship, but choose wisely and always think of safety first.
In jiu jitsu there are many tools in which a jiujiteiro (fancy name for a pajama fighter) can employ, from sweeps to guard passes, submissions to throws, all are important but, in my opinion, the most important is the tap.
The tap in jiu jitsu is generally thought of as what you do when your opponent or training partner has you in a submission and you have no other way out. At this point you would tap, and in a competition that would indicate you lost the match, in the gym it generally allows you to reset and continue sparring, but it can and is used for so much more. I feel the tap is something that should be explored more. Tapping is what keeps those of us that train in any grappling sport safe, it allows for an immediate stop in whatever is going on. It can mean the difference between a broken arm and a someone recognizing they got caught, smiling, and getting back at it. It can allow for newer people who haven’t quite gotten comfortable being uncomfortable a way out of situation that many that have been training for a long period of time have forgotten about.
The tap can also help during sparring sessions in close quarters. When you’re sparring, sometimes spatial awareness slips by and you come into vicinity of another group. The tap in this situation allows you to immediately get your training partners attention, help them realize the danger and allow for a reset moving to your own space. This can help reduce the injuries associated with rolling into another group and catching someone with a heel to the head, I use this example as I’ve seen it time and time again as well as had it happen to me, and it truly is a preventable injury if spatial awareness and the tap are properly used.
The tap is a great tool that you can use to keep yourself safe as well as others. If you have a pre-existing injury that you forgot to tell your partner about, lets say your elbow has been sore or injured, and they start putting that arm in a compromised or uncomfortable position, you tap. This gives you the second to explain that you have an injury and to try and not go after that particular injury. Some call this pretapping and it may come with ridicule, if this is a part of the atmosphere of the club you may want to start looking for another place to train as it’s more than likely a toxic environment to be in. You should never be criticized for making your health and safety a top priority.
To conclude, tap early and tap often, use the tap as a tool to keep you and your training partners safe. Don’t forget, be the training partner youd like to train with.