Every one of us started from the bottom. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a basketball or a football team, or we practice wrestling or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we go through the white belt phase. This is the frustrating part where we learn the ropes, so to speak, and absorb the basic concepts and fundamental movement patterns of our chosen sport. In a way, it can also be said that this is where we paint a somewhat indistinct picture on a blank canvas. Our objective, of course, is to establish a solid foundation for all the things we’ll learn in the future, and everything starts with our mental toughness.
Former UFC veteran and BJJ black belt Vagner Rocha states that ‘Brazilian Jiu Jitsu regularly entails supreme mental concentration, especially when foreseeing your opponent’s next move and devising your own game plan’. Rocha adds how this natural focus helps us not just on the mats, but also in other facets of life. So for us to take things a step further in terms of improving our white belt game, it’s imperative to understand BJJ’s core principles of anticipation and what they actually mean.
In their article on the outline of permutations and combinations, Pocketfruity points out the value of knowing when and how to quickly measure the different outcomes we should be concerned with. According to the piece, as much as our instincts play a huge role in this scenario, we still have to process and assess the number of options for every situation. Applying this idea to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu means it’s like facing a math problem in an orderly fashion, in which the solution leads to a submission or an escape. This notion doesn’t necessarily require us to become a math wiz, but rather it simply suggests the significant role of proper and logical judgment.
Making movement natural
The white belt is basically the cognitive stage of our BJJ learning curve, based on a blog post by Infighting. This point is also where we exert most of our attention and energy on the execution of techniques. It still doesn’t come natural, as every movement is linked with our thoughts and each sequence is articulated by our limited grappling knowledge. To put things further in perspective, this phase is where we are like sponges and absorb as much information as we can from everyone and apply it on the mats.
Assessment, logic and application
Essentially, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and all the other forms of martial arts, involve assessment, logic, and application. There should always be definitive reasons for every movement, whether we’re shrimping or bridging, or applying or escaping a submission. Throughout this whole process of learning and practicing these basics, we’ll comprehend the importance of effort. Moreover, by knowing how to deal with different scenarios and measure possible outcomes, we’ll slowly but surely feel a more natural sense of flow and sweep our way into the next level.