The road to the jiu-jitsu black belt is rich with learning, obstacles and determination. Two-time world champion Gabriel Vella has 15 nuggets of knowledge to make your road a bit less bumpy.
1. It’s important to have affective bonds at your gym to stoke your interest in class. One good tip is to bring a friend or family member along.
2. Make group training plans, setting similar targets with your friends or relatives. This will help you and everyone around you to have clearer goals — and to achieve them.
3. Punctuality in training is a crucial part of succeeding. It shows respect for your teacher and classmates, and it prevents injuries.
4. An air of comradery is also important in order for your presence to be not just accepted, but celebrated, at the gym. To achieve this, it’s essential that you sport good manners and respect for all your classmates, but especially for those higher-ranked. That is what convinces a group to take you in.
5. Safety: Never resist moves that are locked in place. Don’t suffer avoidable injuries.
6. Don’t rest seated with your hands on the floor, and don’t lie on the mat while others train around you. If there’s a pause, opt to have your back to the wall to be able to see your teammates. It helps you learn, too.
7. Develop the habit of keeping your nails trimmed, to avoid hurting your classmates.
8. Do annual medical checkups.
9. Wash your gi after each session.
10. Don’t eat meals less than an hour and a half before training.
11. Don’t train on a completely empty stomach, either. If there was no time for a good meal, eat light foods before class, like a banana.
12. Nutrition is a big part of getting far in BJJ. Develop good nutritional habits, such as:
– choosing natural, organic foods;
– eating more often, in smaller quantities;
– not eating processed foods;
– avoiding alcohol and soda;
– avoiding low-quality oils;
– avoiding saturated fats.
13. Seek to alternate BJJ with other physical activities (running, walking, swimming and weightlifting are recommended). You will attain a better physical condition, and your body will acquire more resistance for your next decades of training.
14. Do daily stretching, or yoga.
15. Relax your muscles at least every fortnight in a pool or body of water. Always set some time aside for the pool, sauna or jacuzzi.