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Today we are going to be talking about the different types of white belts in BJJ. You might be a white belt or you might be coaching one, this episode should be a benefit to anyone who trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Types of White belts
Totally new: You may appear to be a blank slate, but you are going to bring something different to the table. Good for you for getting in there and trying it out. In the long run this grappler should be a smooth rolling partner.
Coaching tip- Make it fun.
Wrestler: We welcome this talented grappler to the BJJ mat. Your years of hard work on the mat will pay off. Find ways to adapt your game to dealing with the different positions and submissions. Your mat strength and ability to scramble well are priceless. We recommend Justin Rader’s new DVD for any wrestler looking to transition into BJJ (we put a link at the Bottom of the page). We talk about the big cultural difference between BJJ and wrestling. Wrestlers get a big advantage in getting to compete a lot in a short amount of time. This helps get rid of the nerves that may hit many people who do BJJ.
Coaching tip- Help them transition there skills to fit BJJ, and make sure they learn both sides of the game not just the top position.
Experienced with other martial arts: No matter what art you have dedicated yourself to learning there will be benefits from what you know. Judo is a great martial art back ground for BJJ. The striking arts are a lot different but you learn a lot of discipline and the ability to deal with pain and discomfort. Do remember, that you are doing a new martial art and you need to leave your colored belt at home. You will be starting as a white belt, if you walk in wearing a colored belt some students will probably go a little too hard on you thinking that you are ready for it.
Coaching tip- Help them stay positive, and acknowledge their accomplishments in the other arts.
Strong: Congratulations you have put the time in the gym and became very strong. At first your strength will seem like it is failing you, as smaller players teach you that strength is not everything. In the short term learn the techniques. In the long run your strength will be there for you and make your moves even better.
Coaching tip- Pair them up with people who will roll safely. Try to get them to focus on the technique.
Skinny: This person will often have a difficult road as a white belt, but if they hang in there they can become a technical beast. Most schools have a lot of smaller people, they will be happy to share there skills with you.
Coaching tip- Acknowledge that it is a difficult road but it will soon get better. Protect them from catching too many hard rolls. These grapplers will make a coach proud.
Overweight: If loosing some weight is a goal BJJ can help. Try to find ways to enjoy exercise and if you have fun with BJJ you are on the road to success. Don’t push your self too hard, keep it fun. During openmat you can take a round or two off to take a break. Your weight can be an advantage, try to avoid using your weight in ways that if you lost your weight your BJJ would suffer (no big guy moves). If you are not on the mat yet, just give it a try.
Coaching tip- Push them but not too hard, and stay positive about progress.
Old: You are older and wiser (hopefully). Listen to your body. Don’t ignore your ongoing pains. BJJ can be hard on your body so go at your own speed. Roll with people who are not likely to injure you, it is okay to avoid some people. Try to give your body time to heal in between days you train. Even though you may lack with experience on the mat you might find yourself in a leadership role with the team.
Coaching tip- Understand that they may not be able to train as much as the younger grapplers. Find out what there goals are and help them reach those goals.
Young: First off we must say that you are NOT invincible. If you have the opportunity to wrestle in school we both (Gary and Byron) recommend it, even if it means you take some time off of BJJ. We list many advantages to doing some wrestling, even if you are not great at it.
Coaching tip- It might be hard to let one of your students leave for wrestling season but they will grow a lot in that time. Just be sure you call them and make sure they get back in the gym after the season, they might bring a friend or two back with them. Make sure the young grappler understands that it is okay if they don’t win as long as they learn from it.
Athletic: If you are good at other sports try to find some unique aspects that you bring to the table. Athletic people just seem to pick up things quicker, focus on a few moves and get really good at them.
Coaching tip- Find ways that they like to get coached. They are use to getting coached and should take it better than most.
Competitor: Remember that you are a white belt, competing against other white belts. This is just the first step in your competition journey, good or bad learn from it and look to move up in the ranks. Develop a game plan with your coach and try to force your game on your opponent. Stick to the game plan.
Coaching tip- Help them avoid burnout, expectantly after a loss.
Busy: You have a job, a spouse, a family, or what ever is taking your time. We recommend that you try to find time to grapple at least once a week.
Coaching tip- Having a wide range of times people can train will open up opportunity for busy people to roll.
Bonus (you): Everyone is different, I am guessing that you can relate to more than one of these categories. Find what works for you. People grow at different rates, you might get promoted quickly or slowly. Just keep training.
Quote of the week: “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do” Unknown. Watch someone teach a technique, but then also watch them do it as they roll. There might be some small details they forgot to tell you.