Rather than winging it, and taking each class as it comes, get an edge over other white belts by knowing what skills to focus on developing first as a beginner.
This article will highlight key concepts to prioritise so you can get better, faster (and spend less time being stuck in bottom position).
Develop Bear Grylls level of Survival
The first challenge most beginners face in Jiu Jitsu (and is a constant challenge throughout everyone’s journey in the sport) - is the challenge of overcoming inferior position.
Jiu Jitsu is not fun when you’re constantly finding yourself stuck underneath someone and unable to set up your attacks.
Fundamental skill development should begin with mastering SURVIVAL and ESCAPES before getting good at more complex and flashy moves.
Only when you’re defensively sound will you be able to assert your offense.
By survival, I don’t just mean not getting submitted. There’s more to it.
Survival is about remaining composed while in a bad position, and having the correct defensive posture that makes your opponent feel uncomfortable even though they’re in a more ‘dominant’ position.
It’s about changing the situation to favour the defensive player as you create a situation where your opponent’s actions become more predictable as there are only certain movements they can make.
Having strong survival then makes escaping out of an inferior position much easier as you’re in an advantageous defensive position compared to your opponent’s awkward position.
Become an Escape Artist
As most beginners naturally end up in bottom position when starting out, it’s the perfect stage in your journey to learn how to escape.
Survival and escapes are the foundations to an offensive Jiu Jitsu game. If you’re confident in your ability to not get submitted, this translates into confidence to pursue your own attacks without any doubt or hesitation.
There are four primary pin positions: the Mount, Back, Side Control, and Knee on Belly. You must be capable of escaping these positions because if you don’t, they lead to bigger problems.
When it comes to becoming a great escape artist, there’s a sense of timing and ‘feeling’ that goes with the techniques.
For example, if you’re in Mount Survival Posture, your opponent only has so many options. When they respond by transitioning to a new position, OR attempts to muscle on a choke, there is a small window of opportunity where as they’re making their move, you can off-balance them and make your escape.
If you get caught in a submission that you didn’t expect, be sure to replicate the attack in a drill so that your body develops the ‘feeling’ to anticipate it next time.
You may have heard the old cliche that “drillers are killers”. The same notion applies when it comes to improving your escape skills alongside any other Jiu Jitsu technique for that matter.