What is the worst fear for a BJJ practitioner to have?

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Tanque corrects his students: to Tanquinho’s brother, losing one’s fears means evolving. Graciemag archives

When was the last time you did something for the first time? If you have never experienced the unmatched feeling of putting on a gi and learning how to beat someone 50kg heavier, or even if you stopped training for fear of hurting your hands, this is the first fear you must jettison. Believe it: the benefits of BJJ outweigh the risks a thousand to one.

But perhaps that’s not even the worst fear in the life of a BJJ student.

To Soul Fighters teacher Bruno “Tanque” Mendes, a brother of world champion Augusto Tanquinho, the fear to raise one’s finger and ask questions can be a mighty enemy to a white-belt or a blue-belt.

“BJJ is always in constant evolution,” Bruno says. “And the best way to stay up to date is to study, learn, ask and seek out new information, either at your gym or at good seminars in your town.”

“I think the student must always be asking, and must never be afraid to ask — at the gym or at a seminar at another school,” he adds. “You just have to do it politely, at the right time. If the teacher, for example, opens the opportunity for questions and answers, then go ahead and satisfy your curiosity. Don’t think that your question is silly. You can bet there’s someone else in the class with the same question on their mind. If the class or seminar ends with no time for questions, then approach the teacher and see whether they would mind answering your questions.”

This tip is good also regarding positions that are a bit different from what was shown by the instructor. “If you like executing the position taught in a different way,” Tanque advises, “then get the teacher and ask about details. The truth is that every good teacher likes being asked about that which they are sharing. The exchange of information is important in BJJ, whether you are a black-belt or a white-belt.”

If you are a black-belt, it might be worth trying to take the work home with you. “I also recommend asking the teacher whether they mind you taping some positions,” Tanque says. “In the case of a reply in the negative, ask whether you can write it down in a notebook. Having a record of what was presented and discussed — and not just the technical movements, but mainly the concepts — will help you in the following weeks when you go to the gym to work on the positions learned.”

Do you have any fears at the gym? Share it in the safe space below.

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