Opinion: You Shouldn’t Have To Wait Several Months To Start Rolling

Opinion: You Shouldn’t Have To Wait Several Months To Start Rolling




While the jiu-jitsu community can agree on many things surrounding the lifestyle one point of contention has long been at what point do we let newcomers roll.

The customs vary, while at some academies you roll from the very first training sessions other may require you to be a 2 stripe white belt who has already invested about 6 months into the sport without actually having tried it.

And while many believe this to be a key of success at some academies is it really so? What are the downsides of this approach? 

Through the years many have claimed and even done surveys connecting sparring as a reason for quitting. It certainly takes a toll on the body and as such it will negatively impact some beginners.

While marketing hooks would have you believe bjj is for everyone in all honesty we all know it’s kind of an acquired taste.

To get good at jiu-jitsu, and avoid every roll being a painful experience you need to invest a big number of mat hours – much more than those 6 months. And in fact you will probably go through at least the blue belt if not the purple before you truly know what’s going on at any given time.

While we can imagine why a black belt would be demoralized by getting tapped out twice per minute it’s just a part of the deal for the majority of practitioners who are putting in their dues. Would you really want to know a martial art where on day one you feel like you’re already close in knowledge to your instructor? 

To keep coming back you have to build up a certain tolerance for pain and openness to challenge is an absolute must. But as a white belt there are certain things you have to first become aware of – and this insight comes mostly just from rolling:

Over time you’ll get to realize what your Achilles’ heel is, and you’ll need to learn defend it

Important aspect of this is learning your own flaws versus the opponent’s talent. For many this means applying the core principles behind many techniques. Aligning shoulder lines and hip lines according to what you want to accomplish, elbows inside and plenty of patience.

In those key first months, any position is a losing one no matter how big you are or if you’ve tried other sports. There is a reason why jiu-jitsu is as cerebral as it is and you need to be aware. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Think! What can you change to avoid getting twisted in those same knots over and over again?

The amount of good will is limited so try not to exploit it

BJJ will make you learn a lot of basic communication skills, but odds are you will need more than that. Some people still might not want to roll with you. You need to have the understanding that everyone comes to class to get a good workout and learn something new – there will be people who want nothing to do with your white belt nervous gestures or just find you lack the challenge. Keep working and get over it, in any life setting there will be a harder crowd to get along with.

In conclusion

You need to be aware of the meaning you attribute to everything. Win, lose or draw – the beliefs that you use to interpret the situation are what will make you or break you and the more you wait the longer it’s going to take you to get to a certain level. Anyone can make an error but a black belt knows not to devalue themselves for it or attribute fatalistic meaning.

Enjoy the experiences, try everything you can and remember that all is relative depending of the reference point in your mind. Every time you tap out brings you one sparring closer to winning.