Work towards accomplishing many small goals instead of trying to accomplish a huge task.

If you are fairly new to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, accomplishing things will probably seem to go slow for you.  Your teammates will be beating you up on the mats over and over again.   It may be a couple of years of hard training before you are wearing a blue belt.  Many martial arts have tons of different belt colors that are awarded frequently; this can be a great form of motivation.  In BJJ you get a white belt, and you stay a white belt for what seems like a long time.  Don’t worry about the blue belt for now and focus on smaller goals.

Be happy to be a white belt.  Due to the brutal nature of the sport and the long periods of time between belts, a person wearing a BJJ white belt is probably one of the toughest white belts in any of the martial arts.

Many people that are new to BJJ get frustrated because it can seem impossible to get a submission, and yet they seem to be getting tapped out constantly.  BJJ for white belts is more about survival than attacking.  It is a difficult goal to grapple with another person and force them into a position that makes them say stop (tap out).

As a white belt, some good goals to work on could be: escapes, passing the guard, takedowns, getting a strong base, learn a new submission, loosing some weight, etc.

As an example of setting small goals- Let’s say you want to be good at doing the basic triangle choke from the guard.

First goal- start with not having your guard passed so quickly that you can’t even attempt to set up the triangle.  You may need to drill keeping your guard.  Get a teammate and tell them to pass your guard only using 50% of their normal speed and power.  When you are rolling get to your guard and try to maintain your guard.  Sure the upper belts will slice through your guard but you need to be able to prevent other white belts from easily passing.  No matter how good you become, keeping your guard is a skill that will need continued work in order to maintain.

Second goal- you need to find a setup for the triangle choke.  You must force your opponent to have one arm out of your guard and one arm inside your guard.  This will seem very simple to accomplish on newer students, and seem impossible to accomplish on the advanced.  To achieve this goal you need to get a setup that creates this situation.  Don’t consider this goal completed if a white belt takes an arm out voluntarily, that does not count as a setup.

Third goal- lock up the triangle choke, and retain control. Get your foot locked firmly behind your knee, don’t even worry about the choke, and just keep this position as your opponent struggles to escape.  This is the time you will learn how to deal with the escapes, pressure, and posture of your opponent.

Fourth goal- apply steady pressure to earn the submission.  After accomplishing the first three goals the fourth goal will seem easy.  If your opponent is not tapping out, this is no big deal, just work on your third goal of keeping control of the locked up triangle. This is not the time to open the triangle and go back to the guard.  You have earned this position keep it.

Fifth goal- keep doing the triangle until it becomes one of your best moves.  If you want to make bricks in the foundation of your BJJ game, this is the time to make the triangle choke one of your bricks.

Just to add one submission to your BJJ game you had to achieve several goals.  Some of these goals may have taken weeks or even months to accomplish.  You will have learned a lot about BJJ, from keeping your guard to making your guard a dangerous place to be.   After all these small goals have been completed, you have finally reached your larger goal of developing a triangle choke.  Time to start working on another goal. Take a goal that seems large and break it down into smaller goals that you can achieve step by step.  As a white belt you will have a lot of goals to accomplish before you build up to the goal of blue belt, focus on the smaller goals. The long term goal of reaching a new belt rank, mixed with your smaller goals, will seem more attainable.  This is something that you can use no matter your rank.

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