50 Pieces of Advice From Grapplers To Their White Belt Selves

There’s a new white belt at our home gym. Twentysomething, flexible but strong, and limitlessly adaptable, he’s the kind of physically gifted sponge coaches drool over and longtime students love to hate. He’s also so gung-ho he overtrains to the point of injury, takes it personally when he gets annihilated by more experienced grapplers, and would rather go unconscious than have to tap to the gals he trains with.

And all of this is okay. Because at twentysomething, with less than 12 naive weeks of training under his belt, he’s right where he should be. And, should he stick with training and excel to the place it’s obvious he’s capable of ascending to, his high belt self will no doubt look back on 2019 with a cringe, mulling the many things he wishes he could tell his former white belt self.

“Things we wish we could go back and tell our spazzy, insecure, humiliating white belt selves” is a game everyone at every gym plays at certain times, usually when two or more training partners assemble over alcohol and/or other medicinals. Jiu-Jitsu Times decided to play it with our Instagram followers, and the responses were worth reprinting.

We can’t post all of them—many were verbatim repeats of each other, and a few, like “File that divorce before it’s too late” didn’t seem 100% relevant to mat time—but compiled a list of The Best Advice To My White Belt Self from you, the now wiser readers. There’s tips on breathing, pleas to tap early and often, reminders to take drilling the basics seriously, and a few dozen other insights that everyone who trains can benefit from.


2.  “Start standing!”

3.  “Breathe.” (This reply was the most common.)

4.  “Stop spazzing.”

5. “Start doing yoga now so you don’t have to be the 50-year-old dude in the beginner yoga class.”

6. “Switch to a better gym.”

7. “Tap early.” (This one was also very popular.)

8. “Enjoy learning basics rather than trying to beat people.”

9. “Lift more weights.”

10. “It’s okay to fail.”

11. “Don’t take it personal.”

12. “Don’t overthink it.”

13. “It takes time.”

14. “Stop waiting to be good at jiu-jitsu to get serious about jiu-jitsu.”

15. “The only belt that matters is black belt, don’t worry about the next belt.”

16. “Start 10 years earlier!”

17. “Body weight pressure is key!”

18. “DON’T try to tough out neck cranks.”

19. “Wrap that ankle.”

20. “Position over submission.”

21. “Stop trying to learn heel hooks.”

22. “Buy Defense Soap from the jump.”

23. “Be a germaphobe.”

24. “It’s okay to say no to violent, agro, and snazzy training partners.”

25. “Learn to do the technique on both sides from the beginning rather than just your strong side!”

26. “Don’t cross your feet in that one tournament from that guys back and get your meniscus torn.”

27. “Do not enter the closed guard!”

28. “Drill till you hate it…then drill some more.”

29. “Breathe THROUGH YOUR NOSE!”

30. “Mouth guards are cheaper than dental work.” 

31. “Don’t suck.”

32. “Aim for 1% better every day.”

33. “Don’t suck.”

34. “Healing is not linear.”

35. “Performance anxiety is just excitement in a Halloween costume.”

36. “Simplify your journey, there are no mistakes just growth.”

37. “Quit grabbing onto your hair to defend armors. Shit’s stupid dawg.”

38. “Don’t go so hard.”

39. “Fuck it, try a leg lock.”

40. “Do more mobility and stretching work, dumbass.”

41. “Stick to the basics.”

42. “You don’t know shit.”

43. “You can’t compete more than you train. Competition is a fraction of what BJJ is.”

44. “Get some more cardio. Then get some more cards.”

45. “Check your ego at the door.”

46. “Be kind to your joints and your spine.”

47. “Show more gratitude toward training partners and professors!”

48. “Don’t marry that dumb bitch, moving to New York for training will be worth it.”

49. “You have to lose to get better.”

50. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

51. “Anyone you idolize in this game was once a white belt. Put the same work in they did.”



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