If You’re A Blue Belt, Here Are Two Areas You Need To Work On

There is an abundance of articles titled something like “5 White Belt Mistakes”. Without meaning to pick on our new white belt training partners, it is a time where one must process an enormous amount of new information and some new students welcome all the information they can get.

Blue belts have mostly moved on past those “newb” mistakes like trying to cross collar choke when your opponent has mounted on top of you. The blue belt now graduates to a new and different set of challenges.

I notice a pattern of certain things that blue belts typically encounter in that stage of learning BJJ. Here are two areas blue belts should focus on.

1) Experiment with many positions and variations.

One could argue that this idea should be important at every belt level, but hear me out on this one.

As a new white belt, one’s priority should be learning the mechanics of the most important basics. Many a coach’s eyes have rolled at the white belt inverted guard specialist who can’t escape the mount. Concentrate on building a solid foundation of the basics.

A purple belt at the opposite end of the spectrum has very likely seen most of their head instructor’s positions and is most likely working on their personal game and directing their own learning. The purple belt isn’t coming to class and seeing a lot of new techniques that they had never seen before.

The blue belt should have a decent command of the basics and enough of the fundamentals (e.g. base, posture, hip movement) to experiment with some of those more advanced sport positions in a productive manner. So, expand your arsenal! This is not the time to specialize.

Now be aware of the peril of becoming a “move collector,” where blue belts are only interested in the class if it is about a move they have never seen before.

2) Guard retention and turtle

What is the most significant difference between blue belts and purple belts? The most obvious is a fluidity of movement, and smooth transitions between and into positions. I would also add attacking combinations and setups to the list.

Apart from those general areas, the biggest specific difference I see is in guard retention and use of the turtle position.

Under a certain level of experience, BJJ students will try to attack and sweep from their guard until it is passed and then they give up and say “Ok, my guard has been passed, I’m just going to defend side control now.”

There is a step beyond that. To not accept the guard pass and instead quickly transition to turtle. They will Granby roll to recover guard. They will invert and spin back to full guard in an instant. This conceptual and strategic shift makes a huge difference on how often your guard gets passed and you get stuck under the dreaded side control.

Having superior guard retention has the indirect benefit of freeing up your guard attacks. When you are confident in your ability to retain and recover guard, then you are not afraid to try to attack with triangles and arm bars from your guard.

Attention to this one area can pay huge dividends that spread to the rest of your rolling.

What areas do you as a blue belt feel are important?


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