The 5 Phases Every BJJ Newbie Has to Go Through
Talking with students daily about Brazilian jiu jitsu has allowed me to look at Brazilian jiu jitsu from a different perspective. I hear students express their frustrations about Brazilian jiu jitsu. I also hear about their successes. This got me thinking about the phases students go through when they first start Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Below is a list of the phases I've seen new students experience:
Phase One: Just Lost
This is the "I have no idea what is going on" phase. During the first phase you are just lost. You don't know where to line up, how to tie your belt, or how to perform any of those strange-looking hip escapes. Your body doesn't want to work as one. Your arms move or your legs move, but moving them at the same time is difficult. You cannot stand up in someone’s guard without stumbling. Better yet, you are unsure what the guard is in the first place.
Phase Two: Moving Better
During Phase Two, you start to move better. You can make it through warmups without wanting to vomit. Techniques are still difficult, but you are able to understand them better. You still get exhausted rolling, but you try new techniques instead of rolling around not knowing anything. This is also the phase where students get frustrated because they feel their techniques are not working.
Phase Three: Feeling Good
Once Phase Three hits, you feel good and move better. You are no longer the “new student." There are a few students who just started and you get to line up in front of them. When you roll with them you are able to use some of the techniques you have been taught. You start to feel like you are getting it.
Phase Four: Problem Time
And then, just when you think you're getting it, you hit a slump. You get destroyed by someone you feel wasn't good enough to beat you. Everything seems difficult. You keep getting in bad positions or submitted. Some of the students you used to have no problem rolling with are now giving you problems.
Phase Five: Coming Together
If you can make it through Phase Four, you're in luck. All of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, you are a different person. Your movements are sharp. You use techniques you did not even realize you could do. You are able to help the newer students during class. You feel reenergized about your training.
Of course, at each belt there are going to be some phases when you feel great and others when you feel frustrated. Just remember that everyone experiences the same thing. Every belt brings new difficulties. That is one of the best parts of Brazilian jiu jitsu. No matter how long you train, it's always a challenge.
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo 2 courtesy of Ana Nieves.