BJJ Shortcuts For Faster Belt Progression

bjj-belt-progression-tipsDespite the appearance of BJJ as a fun and playful activity, when it comes to progressing through the ranks, it can be a demanding system. It is essential to understand the mindset – of the professors, training mates and even your own to be effective and avoid hurdles in your progress. While it is true that a belt might be seen as just as another decoration, the fact remains that having a clear focus and a well calculated plan for achieving the levels makes you sharper and a much appreciated and loved person in your school or academy.

Now we are definitely not talking about cheat codes or sneaky tactics to put on an act and somehow get through the process of achieving the belts without putting in the hard work and time. Instead let us take a look the reasons and attitudes that can slow down your progress or give it a boost.

Personal Tastes and Preferences

It’s important to not forget that at the end of the day we are all human and our egos, tastes and preferences color our perception of others. This applies to how your professor or instructor sees you as a person on and off the mat. We naturally trust those who reflect our values in life and in this case, in the way they train and interact with classmates and team mates. For example, walking around with a cavalier attitude demonstrates a less than respectful view of the world and others. You cannot expect to gain respect back from your professor and this will definitely set you back in your goals of achieving the next belt. Also other factors like your compliance in the class and respect for the training style and process influence this perception. Every time you transgress these unstated boundaries, you run the risk of having your belt promotion shifted back, indefinitely in extreme cases.

Replacement of A Professor

The relationship between a teacher and a student is a rather delicate and sensitive one that takes time to forge. A healthy one gives a sense of comfort and security about the direction in which the student is headed. But in the gyms driven by profits and expansion, more often than not, this relationship is not valued and respected. Instead we see professors changing by the year or sometimes even in a few months. Each time this happens, the onus is on you to:

  • reach out to the new professor
  • understand his sensibilities and training ethics
  • make an effort to apply the actual techniques, drills, positions and anything else according to the plan he might have laid down

This demonstrates your receptivity and openness to changes around you and you can expect to gain a higher level of trust and respect from the professor.

Relocation

If you are someone who travels a lot or has to change your city of residence often, it’s a fresh start every time you land up at a new academy. Every school, even if they are part of the same franchise, has their own environment and territorial protocols. Observe the above two points and train accordingly to be recognized and respected among your peers and by the professors. There is no way for others to know how good you are unless they see a solid proof of it in your behavior and by rolling with you. As it is often said, actions speak louder than words.

Injuries

Given the nature of Jiu Jitsu training, it is of prime importance to train safely and keep the ego and pride in check to not end up with debilitating injuries. The ideal goal is to train in a way that you can carry on till you are 90. But if you suffer from injuries like sprained toes and ankles, damaged shoulders or even mat burns on elbows and knees, and yet plough through the pain, it is going to affect the way you train and roll. In case of any injury, take immediate precautions like the RICE protocol and depending on its severity, get it examined to understand the due course of necessary rehabilitation. This is important so that if a break is needed, you can plan it out and inform the professor about your absence. Every time you ignore an injury and you let such traumas build up in the body, a major damage is imminent that can rule you out for months and cause more setback in the long run. Rolling or drilling with sustained injuries only slows you down and renders you unable to perform certain moves or techniques. It reflects poorly on your care for yourself and your sincerity in maintaining your progress.

There is no foolproof mantra that will guarantee your progress to a higher belt other than the way you manage your own training, and communication and relationship with everyone around you. The following are a few simple pointers to help you with the training process itself and keep your work relevant to the expected standards in a gym.

  • Always make sure you have the basics covered regardless of the advanced techniques you may fancy. Have a solid base and form your own personal style with constant practice when it comes to sweeps, guard passes, guard maintenance and basic submissions like the armbar or the triangle choke. Eddie Bravo had a habit of attempting the now famous Twister submission even while he was just a novice starting off at Jean Jacques Machado’s school. Jean Jacques rightly advised him to work on his basics like the side mount, guard and sweeps before attempting a fancy submission. With enough practice, Eddie figured out a modified side control position that would help him get the back to set up a Twister submission. He named it the Twister side control.
    Doing your homework and putting in the hard work according to the teaching style of your professor makes sure you are appreciated and noticed. Your progress can definitely speed up by 20% as a result of this.
  • Related to the above point are those in class who are always going for the latest fad or popular technique on the competition circuit without paying heed to the professors’ advice. For example, trying to do a berimbolo without even having the skills to unfailingly pass a guard is a waste of time and effort for both the student and the instructor. Be sure to be set back by 15% in your progress if you keep at this kind of behavior while training.
  • The rolling sessions in the gym are one of the few opportunities you have to show the fruits of the hard work you have putting in while training and drilling. Make sure you don’t skip rolling unless an injury makes it difficult for you to move and be effective. Every time you skip a rolling sessions out of laziness or fear, you go into the professor’s mental list of slackers. You can’t expect a belt for your Xmas gift with such an attitude.
  • Pick the mates who are stronger, heavier or more skilled than you while rolling. This ensures your skills are always tested and sharpened by not getting into a predictable rhythm. At the same time, your sincerity is for everyone to see when you take risks and don’t care much for your ego or pride by putting yourself on the line.
  • An inquisitive nature always helps in unraveling finer details of techniques. Ask questions wherever you have doubts and don’t leave anything to assumptions. Every teacher likes a student who shows inquisitiveness and is willing to receive all the knowledge he has to offer. You can extract the best out of the training and at the same time you get a lot of respect from your instructors and peers.
  • Finally, utilize all the sessions – drilling, rolling or just usual training – to get perfect at the techniques. Every time you get more technical, you become increasingly skilled and effortless. Such a fighter is bound to be promoted sooner rather than later as the skills are there for all to see.

The journey from white belt to a black belt is a long one in BJJ as compared to most of the other martial arts. It is commonplace to take 10 years to reach the level of black belt. According to Ryron Gracie, only a percent of the people who start training in Jiu Jitsu earn a black belt. Maintaining the spirit of a warrior is the work of a lifetime and having the right attitude, perseverance, willingness to work hard and also taking good care of oneself define this journey. The rewards that come in the form of physical and emotional wellbeing along with being a role model that others can aspire to emulate is well worth the time and effort. Last but not least incorporate good supplements in your training, you can give our supplement ojimas osu a try.

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