Today, we’re talking about how to get better at BJJ faster. When I started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I felt like I wasn’t getting it. I’d go to the mat, practice, and drill, but when it came time to roll, none of my techniques worked. I got frustrated. It had me feeling down like BJJ wasn’t for me.
But here’s the thing: I wasn’t bad or dumb; I was just early in the process. Getting good at this martial art takes time, especially building that muscle memory for the new techniques. You’ll get there, trust me. I learned a lot since then and wish I knew what I know now.
We’ll look at my mistakes and how you can avoid them to speed up your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. You can learn faster than everyone else. It’s in your control!
I believe that if you incorporate everything on this list, you can get your blue belt in 1-1.5 years.
Why Does It Take So Long to Be Good at BJJ?
BJJ is packed with techniques—more than any other martial art. It’s a lot to take in. Every class, you’re learning something new. It’s like being in a never-ending school of cool moves.
And even when you think you’ve got a technique down, there’s always a way to improve it. Even black belts are still figuring out how to refine their techniques.
And speaking of black belts, you’re in for the long run. People take 12 to 15 years to get to that level. No other martial art takes that much time.
Starting out, it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of techniques. And I haven’t figured it out yet.
But that’s what’s so great about BJJ. Every time you step on the mat, you’re there to learn something new.
Sure, it can be tough when it feels like you’re not getting better. But don’t let that get you down. Slow and steady wins the race in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
So you’ll progress slowly, and sometimes you won’t even feel your progress. Don’t let that discourage you, keep showing up.
How Do You Improve In BJJ Faster?
Let’s make something clear: If you follow the points on that list, it’s guaranteed that you’ll progress fast. You’ll be able to get your blue belt after 1-1.5 years of practice.
Consistent training is the most important point on this list. If you’re not showing up, nothing else on this list is gonna matter.
At the start, I wasn’t all in. I was bouncing around, doing some other MMA disciplines too. I’d hit the BJJ mat like 1-2 times a week. So I’d learn a new technique, but it just didn’t stick in my memory because I wasn’t there enough.
Aim to train at least 3 times a week, more if possible. If you don’t, you’ll still get better, but you’ll learn at a slower pace. You gotta stick to your training schedule if you wanna become better at BJJ faster.
But I also see many people saying that it’s all about consistency. I don’t agree with that. Consistency is part of it, but it’s not everything. There are also other things you need to keep in mind. Let’s explore what they are…
2. Choosing Many Different Partners
Once you start going regularly, you’ll click with some more than others. You’ll find your go-to training partners. That’s normal. It’s smart to avoid some if they’re too rough and might injure you.
But it’s also good to switch it up. Everyone’s got their own strengths and weaknesses. If you wanna get better at BJJ faster, you need a mix of sparring partners with different skill levels. Try to grapple with folks at all belt levels. Roll with people who are better and those who aren’t as good as you.
With the higher-level belts, work on your defense. And for the ones less experienced than you, work on your offense. That way, you get a wide-ranged BJJ skill set.
I had to force myself to do that in the recent years. Sometimes I just don’t feel like going with somebody a lot more experienced than I am. But that’s just pride talking. We need to let BJJ humble us. Otherwise, we won’t make it through.
3. Choose a Good Gym
Picking the right gym is huge. This is where you’ll learn everything you need to improve at BJJ faster. You want to look for a few things.
First, how good is the teaching? Do you get it when they explain a move? Second, what kinds of belts are the other students wearing? A good mix means you’ll have lots of different people to practice with. And do the instructors know their stuff?
But there’s more to think about. If you’re still looking for a BJJ Gym or you are thinking of changing your gym, we have a Guide about what to keep an eye out for when you’re picking a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy. Give that a read.
4. Avoid Injuries
Let’s talk about staying in one piece. If you’re hurt, you can’t train. Simple as that. I know this firsthand. When I started, I had all sorts of problems. Elbows, knees, you name it. And some of them could’ve been avoided.
Of course, there’s luck involved, but there are many things you can influence. First, pick the right rolling partners. Some of them might be too rough, and that’s a fast track to getting hurt.
The same goes for picking the right gym. You want a place that’s not just about going hard all the time. They should teach you how to train smart, too.
If you want more tips on how to avoid injuries in BJJ, check out the guide I wrote. I cover all my mistakes and how you can steer clear of them. Stay safe. You get better faster if you’re not sitting on the sidelines.
5. Ask Training Partners How They Are Beating You
So you just got tapped out. Ask your rolling partners for advice! Don’t be shy or too proud to ask your training partners what you did wrong. Most will be happy to explain! They’ve been where you are and know what it’s like to struggle.
You need to be humble if you want to improve in BJJ. Ask ’em, “Hey, how’d you pull off that sweep?” or “What did I mess up on during the roll?” Trust me, this isn’t just good for your ego. It’s good for your BJJ game.
This will help you get better, and you’ll get better fast. Of course, you cannot ask everybody anytime. But sometimes, when the moment is right, have a short conversation after the roll.
I found this hard to do during a regular BJJ class. That’s why you should visit open mats, where you can work on your own time and have more space to talk to your fellow students.
6. Work Out
Rolling on the mats is awesome, but it’s not everything. You gotta get in shape too. I’m not saying you need to be a muscle head, but strength training will help you. You get hurt less. More muscles will protect your joints.
I know BJJ is about technique, not just muscle. But being fit is only gonna make you better. So, if you want to step up your game quickly, ensure you’re also hitting the gym. Lift some weights, do bodyweight workouts, whatever works for you. Just get moving outside those mats!
When I started BJJ, I was rather skinny fat. BJJ made me lose weight and put on some muscles. It helped me a lot with my game.
7. Focus on the Basic Fundamentals
In BJJ, you need to focus on the fundamentals first. Basics are the building blocks. Don’t be lazy here! Drilling might not be as exciting as rolling, but it’s super important. When you’re a white belt, that’s what your focus should be.
Even when I was injured, I still showed up for drilling. And I skipped rolling. Rolling is fun, but it gets more important as you climb the belt ranks.
As a newbie, you gotta drill, drill, and drill some more. That’s how you get better. So focus when drilling. It’s crucial for improving your BJJ skills.
8. Take Notes
If you want to accelerate your progress, take notes. Grab a training journal or the notes on your phone and write down what you learned.
I picked this tip up from Gomes BJJ in Kampala, Uganda. The instructor there is a Brazilian black belt. After each drill, he’d make us write down the technique in our own words.
This was mind-blowing to me. Your brain and your body start talking to each other. It’ll help you build muscle memory.
Don’t skip this if you’re serious about improving upon your BJJ skills. Keeping a journal will help you learn new techniques and keep ’em in your head.
Even if you don’t take notes after each drill, take time after practice to write down everything you learned. Doesn’t have to be long, sit down for 5 minutes and write down what you remember.
9. Set Intentions
When you head to the BJJ gym, don’t just show up like it’s another box to tick. Train with intent. You gotta walk into that gym looking to learn BJJ. Be all in. Every time you step on that mat, tell yourself, “I’m here to learn and get better.”
I used to go for the fun of rolling, skipping over the drilling part in my head. Big mistake. I think I’d be much further along if I was more focused. So, aim to train at least with purpose. Be there to learn and improve overall. Setting intentions will help you become a better BJJ player.
10. Be Enthusiastic About BJJ
If you want to develop your skills faster, you gotta be motivated. Life can get stressful. It’s easy to feel burned out. But keep thinking about why you started BJJ in the first place. That’s your fuel! You gotta have a real purpose behind your BJJ journey.
When you’re pumped, you don’t just clock in more mat time; you also soak up new techniques better. But you won’t get better if you’re just dragging yourself to BJJ classes.
Being all-in on BJJ helps you in all aspects of the sport. You’ll be looking to improve every day.
Of course, I’m not always enthusiastic about BJJ. Sometimes I need to force myself to go. But that’s okay. These days come. But what’s important is that you don’t lose your motivation. And we do that by keeping our ego in check.
The moment I started asking myself: “Did I learn something today?” rather than “Did I submit somebody today?” I got more motivation for BJJ. Because you’ll learn every time you come.
11. Don’t Worry About Getting Tapped Out
Getting tapped out is not failing. It’s learning. If you’re trying to get better at BJJ, you gotta understand that tapping out is part of the process.
Don’t judge your overall game by how many times you make someone tap or how much you get tapped.
Every time you get tapped, it’s a chance to improve your BJJ skills. You learn new ways to escape. It’ll sharpen your defense.
So, next time you get tapped, don’t feel down. BJJ will humble you, and that’s normal. We all go through it. Each tap is a lesson that’s gonna help you on your BJJ journey. Keep this in mind, and you’ll become better.
12. Video Record Yourself
I didn’t try this one yet, but I saw other BJJ athletes do it, and it’s genius. Recording your sparring matches is helpful in so many ways. I
t takes courage to set up a camera and watch yourself roll. But I think it’s worth it.
When you watch the video, you see your BJJ skills from an observer’s perspective. You can spot your mistakes and focus on aspects of BJJ you need to work on.
It’s a great tool to help you build better strategies and techniques and track your progress.
Being aware of your mistakes is the first step to improving your game. In Psychology, we say: Realization is the first step to change. And that’s also true for BJJ.
13. Solo Drills at Home
You don’t always need to be on the mats at the gym to get better. You can make improvements at home too. There are tons of YouTube channels out there that show drills you can do by yourself. These solo drills are awesome for improving your mobility. The ones I like are Jordan does Jiu Jitsu and Jedi does JiuJitsu.
Do these drills regularly. They help keep your game sharp even outside the gym. So, no excuses! Grab your phone, find some YouTube tutorials, and get moving!
14. Invest In A Grappling Dummy
A grappling dummy is a great investment if you’re serious about BJJ. This handy training partner never gets tired and is always ready for action. With a dummy, you can practice the techniques you learned over and over again any time you want.
You can have a training session whenever you feel like it. You get to refine your moves without any pressure, without the risk of injuring your partner. So, if you want to drill down your skills, consider getting a grappling dummy.
15. Drill with a Partner Outside Practice
A grappling dummy is cool, but having a real-life training buddy is even better! Find someone you click with, and make time to drill techniques outside of the BJJ gym. This isn’t just about you getting better; it’s a win-win because both of you improve.
When you train with a buddy, you can work on those moves over and over again. Plus, you get instant feedback. Your partner can highlight things you might not notice, helping you fine-tune your game.
In summer, I often go with some off my BJJ training partners in the park – there we roll, we ask drill, go over techniques and just have fun. I find that this helped me a lot with my Jiu Jitsu – it’s a good way to share knowledge with each other.
16. Go to Different Gyms
Don’t get stuck in just one gym. Some BJJ Gyms don’t like cross-training, but I wouldn’t recommend you to sign up in those gyms anyway. You want a gym that’s cool with you checking out other spots. Every gym has its own style, way of teaching, and crew of training partners.
Switching between gyms has really helped me. It gives you a fresh set of eyes on your game and introduces you to different styles. Plus, you can figure out whether your regular gym is legit.
17. Put Yourself in Bad Positions
You’re not learning as much if you’re always winning. Sometimes, you gotta let the other guy work. Let them put you in a bad position. This is the best way to learn how to escape those positions!
Don’t worry about what your training partner thinks. This is about you getting better, not looking cool. You’ll figure out how to escape and turn things around by putting yourself in tricky spots.
Escapes are what you want to focus on when you’re starting out. So be humble, let yourself get into some bad positions, and watch how fast you improve!
18. Take Private Lessons
Do you have the budget and are super serious about improving? Think about private lessons. You get all the attention when it’s just you and the teacher. That means you can zoom in on your weak spots and get better faster.
You’ll learn way more in a one-on-one session than in a regular class with many people. I haven’t done it yet. But I only heard good things. If you have a good relationship with your coach, I’d definitely recommend.
19. Watch YouTube Tutorials
Just got done with your BJJ session? Don’t stop there! Go home and look up what you just learned on YouTube.
Trust me, it’s a game-changer. I started doing this not long ago, and wow, it helps.
Watching a tutorial on the same move you just drilled is like adding glue to your brain. That technique is gonna stick better.
Also, I like to watch tutorials about techniques I heard about – Sometimes, I was even able to pull off some of the techniques I watched in rolling!
If you are trying to learn a new technique, visualizing helps. After you learn a new technique, close your eyes and play it like a movie in your head. Go through each step, each detail, like you’re on the mat.
Doing this helps me a lot! It helps me to store the techniques in my memory. So, take some time to picture your drills in your head. It’ll help make those moves part of you.
21. Ask Questions
You need to get out of your head and get comfortable asking questions if you are stuck. If something’s not clear, speak up! No question is a dumb question here. Maybe you need to see the drill again, or you’re stuck on a certain step. That’s okay! You’re here to learn, so don’t let your ego get in the way.
Be the person who asks until you get it. It’s way better than going home confused. Asking questions only makes you smarter.
And many times I noticed that many others were wondering about the same question – so asking question is not only good for you but also for your training partners!
6 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Better At BJJ
- Skip Drilling for Rolling: Rolling is fun, but you get better by drilling. Make sure you put in the time to practice your moves over and over, especially as a beginner.
- Ignore the Basics: Some want to jump straight to the cool, fancy stuff. But you need to get the fundamentals first. Focus on the basics.
- Rely Only on Your Strength: If you think being strong or fast is all you need, think again. Technique wins the game. If you rely on your muscles, you won’t learn proper technique.
- Stay Tense: Being too tense makes you tired faster and messes up your technique.
- Bring Your Ego: Leave that ego at the door. You’re here to learn, not show off.
- Win at All Costs: It’s not about winning every time. You’re here to learn. Sometimes, you get more from a loss.
How To Know If You Are Getting Better?
- You’re not tired as fast. This means you’re using good techniques, not just strength.
- You start using new techniques. When you do a new sweep or an escape, that’s a win! It means you’re getting better.
- You don’t get caught in submissions as much.
- You can get out of tough spots. Before, you might have been stuck in places like mount or side control. Now, you can escape!
- People ask you for tips. That’s a big deal! It means they think you know your stuff.
You don’t have to tick all these boxes to know you’re getting better. Even one is a good sign! But here’s the thing: if you keep going to BJJ classes, you WILL get better. No doubt about it.
Sometimes you might feel stuck, but that’s cause everyone else is improving too. Just keep showing up, and you’ll get better. There is no way around it.
How To Get Better At BJJ: Final Words
If you get all these points down, you’ll zoom past everyone else on the mat. I’ve been using many of these tips, which made a big difference in my BJJ journey. And if you incorporate some of those you’ll see your improvements.
But the most important thing is to stay patient. I still doubt myself a lot. But we need to trust the process. We need to trust that if we keep showing up, that we will get better.
Let me know if you think I missed something important, and we’ll add it. Let’s help each other get better, one roll at a time!