Starting out as a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be overwhelming. You’ll get submitted left and right. Jiu Jitsu humbled me and showed how vulnerable I am.
You’re not alone. We all had to start there, and I assure you that we all go through what you’re going through. It’s important to have some guidance at the beginning.
To help you navigate, I put together everything you need to know in this list of BJJ White Belt Tips. I didn’t have much guidance at the beginning, so I’ll speak today about the things I wish I had known at the beginning.
Trust me, if you implement the things on this list, it will help you a ton in your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Journey.
How Can You Improve As A White Belt?
1. Be Humble And Leave Your Ego Outside
Being a white belt means you’ll have many of those “What the heck am I doing?” moments. You’ll feel like a total fool, and guess what? That’s not only okay; it’s necessary for growth.
Jiu-jitsu is a martial art that will make you feel like you’re back in kindergarten, struggling to tie your shoes. People are gonna tap you out, left and right. It sucks, but that’s why being humble is so important.
Let go of your ego when you step onto the mat. Feeling angry or frustrated? Learn how to keep calm and take a breath. If you let your pride get the best of you, you’ll miss out on some really valuable lessons. If you don’t let jiu-jitsu humble you and you don’t let yourself be the fool, you’ll quit.
So stay open. Embrace it. Respect the art, respect your training partners, and most importantly, respect yourself by being open to learning. Keep that humble mindset, and you’ll learn a lot more than just new techniques. You’ll learn about yourself.
Remember, tapping out is not failing. It’s learning. You should thank your training partners for tapping you out. They just taught you something. This mindset took me a long time to develop. The sooner you embrace it, the better.
2. Stay Consistent With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Consistency is key in BJJ. Think about it like going to the gym; if you only go once in a blue moon, you won’t gain muscles. The same goes for BJJ. It’s a very technical martial art with a lot to remember.
You’re learning how to escape side control one week, and the next week, you’re working on submissions. If you’re not there regularly, good luck keeping all that information in your head.
You don’t have to live at the dojo, but showing up at least two times a week is good, preferably more. Each session is a chance to drill techniques and spar with training partners, which is how you get better. Being inconsistent is like trying to fill a leaky bucket; you’ll never get anywhere.
Commitment is what separates a white belt who advances to the next belt level from one who stays stuck. So, make BJJ a non-negotiable part of your week. The more you show up, the faster you’ll improve.
That means you don’t have to have intense training sessions all the time. You don’t have to go 100% every roll. In BJJ, it’s frequency over intensity. So it’s better to go more frequently with less intensity than very intense and, therefore, less frequent.
3. Go To Practice With The Intention To Learn And Set Goals
Let’s talk about intention. Being consistent is one thing, but how you approach each session mentally is just as important.
Don’t just go through the motions or treat your time on the mat like it’s another thing to tick off your to-do list. When you walk into that dojo, come in hungry to learn.
Take those couple of hours to dial in and be 100% present. Whether you’re focusing on specific drills or you’re in the middle of positional sparring, be intentional with it. Learning a new technique?
Make it a priority to understand the mechanics behind it and to get it right. If you’re committed to absorbing what’s being taught, you’ll get a lot more out of your training.
Remember, you’re investing time and energy here. So, aim to get the maximum return. Whether you’re working on submissions, trying to get to a dominant position like mount, or trying to escape techniques when you’re flat on your back, give it your all.
You’ll not only learn faster but also get a deeper appreciation for the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s like the difference between skimming a book and really taking the time to understand each chapter. The more intentional you are, the more you’ll learn.
4. Respect Over Everything
Jiu-Jitsu is a culture of respect. The moment you step into a dojo, there is an unspoken agreement that you’ll respect every element that makes the space sacred: From the coach who teaches the techniques to the training partner who helps you drill them.
Respecting your training partners goes beyond saying “thanks” after a spar. It means being attentive and controlled so you don’t accidentally injure them. It means acknowledging the tap, both giving and receiving, as a sign of understanding one’s limits.
In positional sparring, it’s about applying the right amount of resistance so both you and your partner can learn effectively.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, respect is a necessity. You’ll learn a lot on your journey from white belt to black belt, but one thing that stays constant is the need for respect.
Without it, the whole ecosystem falls apart. So remember, if you want to be a part of this rich and fulfilling world of grappling, respect isn’t optional—it’s essential.
I had experience with disrespectful training partners. You’ll see them be unpopular in the gym, and not many people want to roll with them. So don’t be that guy. The more respectful you are, the more people want to engage with you.
5. Ask Questions
Questions are your best tool for growth, especially in a complex sport like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You might think asking questions will make you look like a beginner, but guess what? You are a beginner, and there’s no shame in that. Even the black belts had their first days, and they had tons of questions too.
It’s not just about listening to your coach’s instructions but genuinely understanding the mechanics behind a new technique or submission. If you’re unsure how to execute a drill or why you keep getting submitted, don’t just nod and hope for the best. Ask!
It’s not just about you, either. When you ask a question, be sure that someone else in the room is wondering the same thing. You’re not just helping yourself; you’re making the learning environment richer for everyone.
Plus, your training partners will appreciate your questions—it shows that you’re committed and focused, which makes you a better partner.
So don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, you’re going to BJJ training with the intention of learning. You can’t do that if you’re just nodding along.
Be an active participant in your own learning journey. You’ll learn much faster, and your training partners and coaches will respect you more.
6. Warm-Up Properly
I know that in some BJJ Gyms, warming up is not taken very seriously… But warming up is essential to avoid injuries. A good warm-up helps prepare your body for the strains of jiu-jitsu.
It gets the blood flowing and loosens up your muscles. A well-rounded warm-up can include basic movements and techniques like shrimping and bridging.
If you skip this part, not only are you setting yourself up for potential injuries, but you’re also compromising your training frequency, and there goes your consistency out the window.
So, before you spar or drill, invest some time in warming up to make sure you’re ready for rolling.
I travel around and visit many gyms. In the beginning, I’d not warm up if it’s not required. And I paid for it with injuries. So now I make sure to arrive 5-10 minutes early to warm up before class starts. I’d recommend you do the same if your Gym doesn’t do warm-ups.
7. Tap Out Early
Tapping out isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of the learning process. Read that again!! Especially as a white belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you’ll find yourself in many submission holds. The idea isn’t to be a hero; it’s to learn. Every tap is a lesson.
Ignoring the need to tap will lead to injuries. Remember, an injured grappler isn’t getting better at jiu-jitsu.
There were a couple of times when I didn’t tap when I should’ve tapped. Once when I got heel hooked and once when I got armbared. That meant that I had problems for weeks after that.
8. Take Notes
Taking notes is a game-changer in BJJ.
Even if your coach doesn’t set aside time for it, grab a notebook or even your phone and jot down what you learned. Do it in your own words because you’re the one who needs to understand it later.
Notes serve as a handy recap of drills, submissions, and techniques in one place. Learning a new technique? Write it down. Figured out a mistake? Add it to your notes.
It was a complete game-changer for me when I started doing it. I learned this from a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach. I visited his BJJ Gym in Kampala, Uganda. After each drill, he’d tell us to write down what we learned in our own words.
I noticed that I was able to remember the newly learned drills more easily than before. You’ll thank yourself later, especially when you’re going back to review for future training sessions.
Plus, notes can help you set goals for what you want to focus on next. Trust me, this practice can significantly speed up your improvement rate, making you good at BJJ faster than you thought possible.
9. Invest in Protective Gear
Don’t skip the gear. A high-quality Gi is crucial. These are designed to endure the rigorous pulls and grips common in sparring. For No-Gi, get a quality rash guards. They’re specially made to reduce friction and manage sweat better. Also, don’t forget a mouthguard. It might feel weird at first, but trust me, a chipped tooth feels weirder.
Experienced BJJ practitioners will tell you that protective gear is a necessity. When learning a new technique or going through drills, the last thing you want is a wardrobe malfunction.
The focus should be on learning and improving your skill, not adjusting gear that doesn’t fit or isn’t comfortable.
10. Focus on Drilling
I know rolling is fun and exciting. But especially for white belts, drilling is how you get better in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You might watch MMA or follow BJJ fanatics online and think you will start pulling off submissions left and right. But here’s the truth: you need to drill, drill, drill…
You can’t just learn a technique once and think you got it. Repetition is how you lock it into muscle memory. In BJJ, they say: If you need to think, then it’s too late.
Ever wonder why higher belts seem like they move without thinking? That’s because they drilled each movement so many times; it’s like second nature to them. If you’re fortunate to spar with a blue belt or even a purple belt, you’ll notice they got the basics down. That comes from drilling.
Drilling techniques are the building block that helps you improve faster. It also makes it easier to learn advanced techniques later on.
And remember, as a white belt, drilling is more important than rolling. Show up for the drilling sessions. If you feel overtrained, then skip the rolling. There is no shame in that.
I’m skipping rolling sometimes too. That way, I can go to BJJ every day. If I’d roll every day, I wouldn’t be able to train daily.
11. Roll with Intention
If you’re a white belt in BJJ or just starting, this one’s super important: Don’t just show up to spar without a plan. You need to roll with intention.
Sparring in BJJ is like a lab session in school; it’s where you test what you been drilling. We all have our go-to moves, but if you only stick to what you know, how are you gonna grow?
Sometimes, you’ll get submitted, and that’s fine. Remember, each tap is a learning experience. Tap, brush it off, and think about what went wrong. The best BJJ White Belt tip to make consistent progress? Roll like you got something to prove—not to others, but to yourself.
This isn’t about showing off submissions. It’s about applying what you learned so you can get better, so when the time comes to go for that blue belt, you’re more than ready. You’ll learn a lot more if you focus on learning and improvement rather than just doing the safe moves.
12. Partner Up With People Better and Worse Than You
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s the same with your training partners. You need to roll with people who are both above and below your skill level. Here’s why.
Rolling with upper belts is a master class in humility and defense. They’ll put you in positions you didn’t even know existed. It’s like they got a PhD in BJJ, and you’re in kindergarten. Don’t be discouraged. Use this time to focus on your defense.
They’ll put you flat on your back, but you can use these sessions to practice escape techniques. You’re going to learn a lot when you’re getting schooled by higher belts.
Now, rolling with beginners is where you can be a little more experimental. Think of it as your playground. You’ve been drilling techniques all week, right? This is the time to try them out.
Get into your gi and no gi attire and start trying out new techniques. Be playful. Put yourself in bad positions on purpose sometimes and find your way out. Treat it like a lab, and you’re the scientist. You can be more adventurous with your submissions and positions.
13. Focus On Defense
When you’re new to Jiu Jitsu, it’s easy to get excited about doing submissions. But don’t rush it. As a white belt, your main goal should be to get good at escaping and defending.
You’ll often end up in bad spots when you’re starting out. So, it’s better to focus on how to get out of those tough places. Don’t worry too much if you tap someone or get tapped out. That’s not the best way to know whether you’re doing well.
Instead, see it as a success when you escape a dominant position. Or when you slip out of a submission. That’s a win for you and the goal as a BJJ white belt.
Trust me, there’s no better feeling than rolling with a blue belt, and they can’t submit you. That’s when you know your defense is on point. And that’s a big deal.
So, focus on your escapes and defense first. Submissions will come later, and they’ll feel even better when you know you’ve got your defense down solid.
14. Visualize The Drills
After practice, take some time to go over the drills you just did.
Close your eyes and picture yourself doing them. Go step-by-step in your head, just like you’d do on the mat. This helps a lot in making those moves stick in your brain.
BJJ throws a lot of techniques at you. There are so many moves and positions it can be overwhelming! But when you visualize, you make it easier for your brain to remember them. It’s like you’re drilling without even being on the mat.
I learned techniques much more quickly when I started doing that. It took me only 5 min after practice to repeat the things in my head. It’s simple to do and effective in my experience.
So, next time you learn something new, take some time to run it through your head. It’ll help make those techniques a part of you.
15. Practice At Home
Don’t limit your learning to just the dojo. Your home can be an extension of your training ground. Picture this: You just learned a new technique in class, and you can’t wait to use it in your next spar. Well, don’t wait! As soon as you get home, start practicing. Do those drills right in your living room.
Got a sibling or a roommate who’s also into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Even better. Drill those moves together. You can even get yourself a grappling dummy to practice the positions and submissions!
Now, I’m not saying you should turn your living room into an MMA ring, but even some basic drills can help a ton. If you’re alone, you can always practice movements like shrimping and bridging, which are crucial to escaping bad positions.
If you got someone to practice with, you can focus on positional sparring or even specific submissions like an armbar. If you’re really committed, invest in some mats and BJJ gear to make your home setup a bit more legit.
Remember, the more you think about jiu-jitsu, the faster you will improve. So make it a priority to use your time at home wisely. Every moment you invest brings you one step closer to becoming good at BJJ. So go ahead, roll out that mat, and get to it!
I learned so much by going over techniques in private with somebody. It’s more personal and you figure out things you haven’t seen before.
16. Watch Instructional Videos
YouTube isn’t just for cat videos and memes; it’s a goldmine for white belts in BJJ looking to level up. Channels like BJJ Fanatics offer a treasure trove of tips to help you on your BJJ journey. A quick search online can give you multiple techniques and skills to tighten your game in a specific area.
Instructional videos are especially helpful for many beginners who are lost or overwhelmed. You’ll learn a lot by paying attention to the details the instructors provide. Like most beginners in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you’ll benefit from the different styles and techniques presented in these tutorials.
Best of all, you can watch and rewatch as many times as you need to grasp a concept or technique that was taught in your last class.
This kind of online training is an excellent addition to what you’re learning in the dojo. The videos often dive into both gi and no-gi techniques, so you can adapt your learning based on your training preference. Remember, the more techniques and skills you absorb, the better you’ll get at BJJ.
So take out your phone or laptop and start learning. You’ll be surprised how much you can improve by incorporating this into your training routine.
How Long Do People Spend At White Belt Level In BJJ?
The time you spend as a white belt in BJJ varies a lot. Some folks get to blue belt super fast, in less than a year. But they are usually experienced in other martial arts. Especially Wrestlers catch on quickly and progress fast in BJJ.
For most people, reaching the blue belt is a longer road— 1.5 to 2.5 years. If you’re new to martial arts, plan on at least 2 years at white belt. How fast you move up also depends on how often you train. If you go twice a week, you might need up to 3 years to make a blue belt.
The key here is to keep showing up. BJJ rewards those who stick with it. So, if you’re eager to level up, be consistent and stay committed.
How Many White Belts Make It To Blue Belt In BJJ?
Starting out in BJJ is tough. As a white belt, you lose a lot, and it’s easy to feel down. That’s why so many people quit early on.
Only 10% of white belts get to blue belts. And from that small group, only 1% make it to the black belt.Rener Gracie
Getting good at BJJ takes a long time and a lot of patience. If you stick with it, it gets more fun as you progress the belt ladder. But you gotta be willing to hang in there when times are hard. So if you want that blue belt, you gotta keep showing up and working at it.
BJJ White Belt Tips: Final Words
Starting BJJ can feel overwhelming, especially at the white belt level. There’s so much to take in—different techniques, jargon, and the natural fear of getting submitted.
But don’t worry, many white belts stand where you are now, feeling just as overwhelmed. The key takeaway here is to be proactive early on in your BJJ adventure.
Many white belts get frustrated when they don’t progress as quickly as they’d like. But remember, BJJ is a marathon, not a sprint. S
tick with it, ask questions, invest in proper gear, roll with intention, and keep practicing—both in the dojo and at home. You’ll find that the learning never really stops, but that’s the beauty of this martial art.
In the end, the goal isn’t just to level up your belt but to evolve your understanding of the art and yourself. So keep these tips in mind, and you’ll find your journey, especially early on in your BJJ, much more rewarding.