Reader Question: “Am I wasting my instructors time?”

Question: “Hi, I have a question for you. I am a white belt practising jiu-jitsu for about 2 years. And there are times when I doubt that I am doing good, like I am wasting my trainers time. Though I noticed that I started to understand much better how to do techniques, and sometimes I am really proud of myself.”

Jiu-jitsu Times: You, my white belt friend, are not alone!

In addition to “How do I remember my techniques?” this is the most common question or doubt in students.

And it is not just white belts either! Blue and purple belts may often question if they are progressing “as fast as they should be”.

I would ask you: what is this standard that you are holding yourself to? Who are you comparing your progress to?

Are you comparing yourself to someone like BJ Penn, who got his black belt in four years? The natural athlete in your academy who sees a move once and then does it in live rolling?

The truth is that you are likely doing pretty well for your level of experience. You just can’t see it as the progress is so slow and gradual that you can not measure it on a week-to-week basis.

If you are attending class regularly, in good physical condition and actually trying to apply the techniques that your instructor teaches, you are doing all you can to optimize your progress.

Here are two things that might help you feel more positive about your perceived lack of progress:

1) Everyone else in the class is improving also! When the level of water in the harbour rises, all of the boats go up. You are improving, but your training partners are learning also and learning your tricks. You may feel like you are not making any progress, but it is more likely that everyone is progressing!

2) You are experiencing what I call “invisible progress.” Here is an example to illustrate my point: you get tapped by the purple belt three times in a roll. Two years later, you still get tapped three times. But now, the purple belt can not tap you with the first technique that he tries. He must go to the second, third or fourth attack before he finally catches the submission.


Because you are correctly defending the first attacks and not making mistakes that lead to easy submissions.

You might be surprised to hear that many blue, purple, and even brown belts privately feel undeserving of their belts when they get promoted.

My advice is to focus more on your efforts to learn and worry less about comparing yourself to some imaginary standard of how fast you are “supposed to be” learning.

Jiu-jitsu Times – Advice: Once You’re Past The Beginner Stage


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