Skip The Basics – Let’s Do Advanced Bjj!

Sometimes I have to teach a group class containing students who have several years of experience and who are brand new. It can be challenging to teach techniques that are basic enough for the new students to understand while teaching moves that are stimulating enough for the blue belts who have been around for a few years.

I will start out with some basic techniques to get everyone going and then, closer to the end of class, show an advanced variation for the more experienced students.

I will explain to the brand new students that this is an ADVANCED variation and is NOT for them. I will also explain that they need to drill the earlier moves if they don’t have a solid understanding of them.

Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

Well, not for some beginning students, because they go RIGHT FOR the advanced move!

As can be expected, because they lack both the understanding of the move and the requisite mat time, they cannot do it correctly. I can see by their early attempts that they don’t have the faintest idea of what they just witnessed.

When they wave me over and say “I don’t understand the advanced move,” I remind them that the advanced move they learned is an ADVANCED move.

I then ask for them to demonstrate the earlier basic techniques of the class and they have already forgotten. Finally, I explain as diplomatically as possible that they would be better off learning the basic version for now.

This is sadly common.

In a culture of short cuts, hacks, and get everything NOW, perhaps the expectation is that people want to skip the basics and jump right to the advanced.

I once saw a first-day beginner (who had to be shown how to tie his belt) ask to join the advanced class! Could you imagine approaching any other complex skill with the same mind set?

Could you imagine if I wanted to learn Japanese and said, “Forget the basics class. I ain’t got time for that! All the good stuff is in the advanced class!”?

We can easily see the foolishness of this approach.

So why do so many complete beginners go for the advanced moves?

I guess that they think there is some magic in the advanced techniques and that the basics don’t work as well.

In fact the opposite is true. The basics WORK!

And if you are a beginner who feels the need to learn the advanced moves right away, here is my advice to you:

Don’t be in such a rush. There is no magic in the advanced class.

The basics work!

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times – Don’t Skip The Details!


  1. Perhaps separating them in two different groups might help. Having the beginner students supervised by advance belt or assistant instructor making sure they just focus on the badics.

  2. I wish more instructors would see this. Most of the time, the instructors teach advanced moves to the entire class, neglecting the beginners. I’ve seen it happen so many times.


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