10 big mistakes you must avoid in BJJ

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Michelle Nicolini applies an armbar at the 2012 Euros. Raphael Nogueira/GRACIEMAG

Where do you err the most in BJJ? Is it in posture? Laziness? A sloppy diet?

Today Graciemag lists ten errors you cannot afford to make in BJJ. More than just teach, however, we want to learn from you: What is your most common error in BJJ? Share it with your fellow readers and improve together.

1. Elbows far from the body

In BJJ, there are almost no positions where the elbow should be far from your body. Keeping your elbows glued to your body at all times means avoiding armbars, unbalancing, stalling and worse. Always stay protected and keep your elbows close, whether attacking or defending.

2. Posture

The biggest secret in BJJ is posture, something a white-belt should pay attention to from early on. Learn to keep your back straight when you are inside someone’s guard; good posture will save you from being unbalanced, swept and submitted. Remember, additionally, to keep your toes bent and embeded into the mat — not just your foot flat on the ground. This prevents you getting swept or pushed for no reason.

3. Ignoring self-defense

Don’t ignore self-defense techniques. The more basic, believe us, the more useful they are. Or do you intend to be a black-belt who can’t properly escape a crude chokehold? Repeat the basics at the start of your training session, as a warmup. Do 20, 50 reps to each side, and watch your BJJ flow that much better.

4. Competing during training

The mat at your gym is not a competitive arena. On it you must only train, lose, tap out and learn. Only by tapping out and working on your shortcomings can you become a well-rounded fighter. Trying to win a sparring session can only limit your game, as you will tend to stick to what you can already do.

5. Looking at the collar when being choked

When you get attacked with a choke, try to put your chin on your chest, but never look at the collar. You will end up turning toward the choke, or opening up space for the gi to go farther in. Look at your foe’s elbow, pull their shoulder and arm to relieve the pressure, and turn your hip to the correct side to escape.

6. Leaving the arm as you try to pass

As you try for a pass, watch out so your arm isn’t left inside the guard, which is halfway to falling victim to a triangle.

7. Crossing the feet

Learn some common mistakes by watching the video below, like the posture mistake and the open elbows of the fighter on top, making several attacks possible. Watch the bottom athlete apply an armbar and cross his feet, which in this case helps with his defense.

8. Disrespecting hierarchy, due to ego or lack of attention

Inviting a higher-ranked teammate to train can be seen as disrespectful. Wait for them to ask you.

9. Training like a lion; eating like a bird

Strive to eat well before and after your BJJ training — preferably with professional help. Avoid training hungry or too full, and don’t take supplements without medical advice backing it up. Also, drink lots of water before and after.

10. Learning how to attack while dismissing defense

Learning a good defense against attacks is more important than learning 50 different finishes of that kind you might not even get to use. Memorize where your body needs to be in order to defend yourself in each position. Correct your errors right there with your higher-ranked colleagues.

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