Gets mounted, still holds on to guillotine.I don’t normally like to give out much advice about BJJ (because I’m aware of the limitations of my knowledge), but there are a few basic grappling tips I want to share. These are geared towards newbies, and are all things I’ve experienced when rolling with new students (or that I did when I was a white belt myself ;).

  • Don’t try to submit someone when you’re in their guard. Your goal should be to pass.
  • Don’t try to submit someone from underneath their top mount or side control, you should be transitioning or escaping. (I’m not saying it’s not possible, but if you do manage to sub someone from the bottom, or from inside their guard, it’s probably more about a size/strength advantage than skill, especially in the beginning).
  • Don’t grab fingers to break a grip. Grabbing hands is okay, but no small joint manipulation.
  • Don’t grab someone’s throat/trachea.
  • Don’t put your hands/fingers inside gi sleeves or pants (for your own safety).
  • Don’t waste energy. Stay calm and think about what you need to do next, instead of spazzing and thrashing. As The Professor says, you need to be “intelligently lazy”.
  • Don’t waste strength. If you use up too much by ineffectively pushing and pulling, you might not have any strength left when you need it.
  • Don’t get upset when you get submitted. Tapping is learning.
  • Don’t get upset at someone who’s trying to coach you. Even if you don’t want to (or can’t) follow their advice, remember they’re just trying to help.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the entire journey. BJJ is difficult and complicated, it takes an average of ten years to get to black belt, and if you don’t have fun along the way, you probably won’t last. Even in the beginning, when you’re getting subbed all the time, just learn to enjoy the process.

“Much of the reason we try so hard to win when we are beginners is because we hate the fact that we can’t. But you have to be okay being low (wo)man on the totem pole. There is truly no escape from the ego pounding, and embracing that fact will gain you more respect and more positive attention than a refusal to acknowledge reality.” -Valerie Worthington


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