6 concepts for a white-belt to evolve in BJJ, by Raphael Barbosa

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Raphael and his student

A white-belt’s road is determined by the amount of persistence they have. On this hard path, there are teachers qualified to help you.

Teacher based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Raphael Barbosa details below six concepts to help every beginner evolve faster. Raphael is a head coach at UFC Gym Middle East.

1. Don’t skip steps
Don’t try to skip steps, regardless of how easy it is to see stuff online. Many students want to do those positions from YouTube — which is fine, in my opinion. But a white-belt wanting to learn a berimbolo and not knowing how to pass a guard, sweep, play half-guard, escape the mount, stabilize a mount, among others, from my point of view is a waste of time.

2. Don’t be embarrassed
Whenever a question pops up about a technique, don’t be embarrassed or scared to ask your teacher.

3. Take risks
Whenever you learn a new position, try to apply it in a roll.

4. Practice mobility

Doing some exercises in mobility — stretching, medicine ball exercises to work on your balance, among others — will help you evolve in BJJ. One tip I often use with my white-belt students is: shoulder rolls, takedown cushioning, bridge and hip escape. I think that’s the pillar for the white-belt to start to understand movement and prevent injuries.

5. Drills matter too
Give drills their deserved attention, because practice makes perfect. The more you repeat one position, the more naturally it comes to you when rolling.

6. Enjoy your journey
Enjoy your white belt a lot. Don’t demand too much of yourself; remember you are a beginner and have every right to make mistakes. Don’t try to make it to blue haphazardly. Don’t forget that you are building your base. Everything has its time, and certainly your teacher will know the right time to promote you.

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