Jiu Jitsu Defense is Everything
Somewhere along your white belt journey, you may be thinking something like “I’m not getting tapped as often, but why can’t I ever seem to submit anyone??” It’s a pretty common issue. Jiu jitsu defense is a component of the martial art that is too often overlooked. Sure, it’s quite a bit more exciting when you catch an impressive submission for the highlight reel, but your ability to defend yourself and play defense is arguably more important, whether we’re talking about real life or the sport aspect of training. Defend yourself!
Let’s talk about how a good jiu jitsu journey should probably start. When you’re brand new, assuming you start training with just a tad of humility (not a given for some and that’s OK too!), you’ll probably start lightly rolling with your coaches and experienced members of the gym. There’s a good chance that they will start lightly with you – showing you some guard passing concepts, some takedown concepts, just covering the basics and getting you into the spirit of what it’s like to roll very lightly, and probably without them grabbing many submissions.
Now, with a little experience under your belt, you’ll start having harder and harder rolls, with less and less experienced partners. To turn a phrase, this is the ‘getting your ass kicked’ phase, and some would argue that it never really ends – it’s what many of us fall in love with about jiu jitsu. As you start to roll harder and harder but still without many tools, you’ll get tapped. A lot. Maybe 6+ times in a 5 minute roll. It’s hard, you’re fighting for your life in a way, and you learn to just keep getting up, slapping hands and going again. Many would consider this the greatest phase of personal development in your jiu jitsu journey, since it’s where you’re going to learn how to fight on despite losing hard!
However, through that time period, you may not realize it, but you’re getting better. You’re getting harder to deal with, you’re getting harder to submit. You’re also probably getting stronger, learning to work with and conserve energy, and becoming calmer and more aware. Ahh, to go back to those days of learning! The white belt is a hard journey to go through, but believe it or not, many of us miss those days of immense challenge and zero expectations. Enjoy it while you’ve got it.
Over time, your jiu jitsu defense is going to be improving little by little. The upper belts are going to have a harder and harder time submitting you – whether you notice it or not, it’s happening. You may even start to notice that as new people begin training, you’re able to gain some control, begin experimenting with your offense more and more (probably another blog on that later).
Growth in jiu jitsu is connected to training. When you come and train, growth occurs. Your jiu jitsu defense will carry you to new places, you’ll turn escapes into sweeps, gaining offensive position. You may even begin to threaten offense from disadvantageous positions as you go!
More than anything, you need to trust the process, trust your coaches, and let your defense carry you to new heights. Your defense will always be important. Want proof? Go ahead and try to submit a black belt, even from a totally advantageous position. Those skills are what you’re building right now as a white belt, and it’s the same way they built those skills. We’ll see you on the mats.