I have been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for just about a decade now, and one thing I can confirm is that there’s no real way of mastering Jiu-Jitsu. There’s always more and more to learn which means the sport is endless. And that is the most difficult thing to grasp. Once you accept that you’ll never know BJJ completely, you can focus on how to learn BJJ fast in order to get as much knowledge as possible. And yes, fast progress in BJJ is not just possible, but everyone can do it. The trick is not in what you should be doing, though, but in things, you need to avoid doing.
Just like you can’t eve hope to learn everything BJJ has to offer, you have to accept that you’ll be making mistakes as you learn. This holds true for black belts as much as it does for white blets. Of course, white belts usually make catastrophic mistakes of different proportions to those black belts make. And I’m not just talking about technical mistakes. Those are easy to fix. There are certain things BJJ folks do that interfere with their desire to learn BJJ fast. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to progress at a fast pace. The key is giving yourself every chance along the way.
You Can Learn BJJ Fast
There’s a sentiment among BJJ people, particularly those with experience in the art, that you can’t learn BJJ fast. I, personally, do not agree with this notion. There’s clear evidence pointing to the fact that you can learn Jiu-Jitsu at a high level in a very short amount of time. And, contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with how talented someone is. It has to do with training structure and approach primarily, which is down to the coach. Secondarily, it is down to the student and their approach to learning that defines how fast they progress through the Gentle Art.
Another thing to keep in mind is that getting a black belt in record time does not mean someone has managed to learn as much BJJ as possible. That said, most people that did achieve black belts quickly, do have a slightly different approach to things. Some, like BJ Penn, are obvious mega talents and that’s something we can’t learn. Others, like Kit Dale, figured out that understanding fundamental principles and concepts will teach them much more than just learning techniques. Then, there’s John Danaher and his systematic approach. He teaches only the highest percentage stuff, organized in impeccable systems, making people progress lightning fast. While he does not reward their fast progress with belts, you see blue and purple belts from his gym tapping out seasoned, world champion black belts on a regular basis.
However, there’s only so much a coach can do. If you’re really looking to learn BJJ fast, you need to factor in your approach as well. After all, you can’t expect to just walk in an academy and learn lightning fast by leaving ital. lin the hands of the instructors. What you do, on and off the mats will affect your own progress much more than the training systems your Academy employs.
8 Things to Avoid For Quick Progress
While there are plenty of little and big things you need to take into consideration when you’re looking to learn BJJ fast, the 8 that follow have been proven to really make a difference. Most of them are things you need to avoid doing, or you’re doing in the wrong way. Some of them are very obvious, but most people are still doing them, despite being aware of them. Others are going to surprise you, but ultimately, looking at each and every one of them will make you a better grappler. And fast!
Time On The Mats
As obvious as this may sound, you need to spend more time on the mats if you’re looking to learn BJJ fast. How much time is enough is a highly individual thing, as you’ll see later on. The rule of thumb, though, is that the more time you spend in the Academy, the faster you’ll become better at Jiu-Jitsu. A great starting point for most people is at least 4 times per week. However it is not just about to begin on the mats, but what you do when you’re on them.
When you are in the academy, make sure you’re doing everything to pick up as many things as you can. Listen to the instructors and try echniques, of course, However, go one step beyond and have a BJJ notebook to help you organize what you learn. Also, if you’re tired and taking a break fro rolling, watch rolls instead of just chatting with other students. There’s lot’s to learn everywhere you look in a BJJ academy.
This might seem like it is the same as time on the mats, but we’re actually approaching it from the completely opposite side. Sometimes, you can actually train too much for your own good. I’m not just talking overtraining physically and neurologically, but also mentally. There’s a limit to how much new information you can process, and BJJ offers more than enough. So, trying to be on the mats every day, sometimes perhaps even twice a day in order to learn BJJ fast might actually backfire.
Recovery is just as important as training and that’s something that’s easily forgotten. Physical recovery is, of course, important, but so is mental. As you look to stretch or foam roll, or simply sleep to get your body back in order, so should you do with your mind. You need to leave some time for all the information to sink in and get organized in your mind. Going straight back in tired and overwhelmed will greatly slow your progress, and kill your desire to train entirely.
To be honest. It is pretty hard to get bored in Jiu-JItsu, given that here’s no end. However, it can happen, and it can really derail how fast you learn BJJ. This has to do a lot with your mindset, rather than with BJJ itself. It also may have something to do with how the classes are organized in your academy.
Boredom has a lot to do with your level and what you’re trying to accomplish. White belts and most blue belts are in no danger of getting bored with Jiu-JItsu. Purple belts are usually the ones that end up bored doing the same thing over and over again. that right there is what you shouldn’t do. The best way to stop progressing in BJJ is finding a comfort zone of training and staying inside it. You’ll never learn fast if you do not learn new things. And yes, that means doing things you’re not good at and even doing the unthinkable and tapping out to lower belts.
Figuring Out The Conditioning Puzzle
Being in shape is absolutely important for anyone that’s training JIu-Jitsu. Yes, BJJ itself will get you in a certain shape. And yes, you can train BJJ effectively without any particular athletic abilities. However, developing certain abilities that everyone can is definitely going to a big help in learning BJJ fast. That means a decent level off cardio, some flexibility work and perhaps even some strength training exercises. If you want to learn BJJ fast, you’ll need to do your homework outside of the gym. Part of that homework is conditioning.
The polar opposite I have to mention here is overdoing the conditioning. Running marathons, lifting like a strongman or doing hard CrossFit sessions will definitely interfere with your Jiu-Jitsu progress. Make sure you know what is your priority. If it is BJJ, use conditioning to supplement it, not substitute it.
Goals are important in just about anything we do. It is the same in Brazilian Jiu-JItsu. The first thing to do is set goals for yourself and you walk in an academy. Looking to learn BJJ fast is a great goal. The next thing you want to do is do a reality check of your goals. As it is apparent, you can learn BJJ fast, but that also has a limit. You won’t learn nearly as much in two years, as you will in four. So, make sure you’re not trying to achieve goals that are impossible to reach. The trick here is to focus on short term goals, rather than really long term ones.
That brings us to the next thing you should know. You need to stop obsessing with belts, stripes, and promotions. Thos are inevitably going to come, and obsessing won’t bring them to you faster. Learning Jiu-Jitsu will. As you can see from the example of Danaher’s students, you do not need a black belt to beat black belts. His blue blet Nick Rodriguez managed to get silver in the ADCC with just a few months of training.
Choosing The Right Academy
This one might seem like it is out of your hands, but it is certainly within your control. Not every teaching approach fits all students. That means that one academy might not fit your goals as much as another does. That might require you to change an academy that’s easier to get to for one you have to commute to. However, if you want to learn BJJ fast, it is a step you simply have to make. Nobody can influence an athlete, both positively and negatively, as much as a coach/instructor can. So, find the one that suits you and helps you progress, rather than hit a wall.
Also, do not write off switching academies even later on in your BJJ journey. What suited you perfectly as a white belt, might not be the right environment for you when you become a brown belt. There’s nothing bad in switching to pursue your own personal goal.
Don’t Get Comfortable
I guess this one is the toughest thing to do, or not do. When you start training, Jiu-Jitsu will be extremely uncomfortable. It is a period that subsides, but never really disappears, However, as you learn, you start to build your own game, and you figure out what suits you. That means you develop go-to moves and you can get most people with them. This can be a problem if you decide to do nothing but those moves in order to satisfy the need of ending up with more taps in a roll, or whatever.
Tha fasters route to BJ progress is facing challenges constantly. That means challenging yourself not only in tournaments but in the gym as well. When you’re rolling with lower belts. For example, you can limit what you can do to one, two or three moves, all of which are not your favorite, that way you’re forced to learn rather than elan on what you already know. It is how you progress really fast. The same holds true for putting your self in bad spots as often as possible.
What You Do Off The Mats
Finally, what you do of the mats is just as important as what you do on them. If you want to learn BJJ fast, as I said, you’ll need to do some homework. A part of it is conditioning, but another part is to keep on learning even when you’re not training. YouTube videos, BJJ DVDs, reading articles, watching matches are just some examples of things that can help your progress even when you’re off the mats.
Other than that, make sure you get enough rest, you eat as best as you can and you’re in the best possible shape to be training Jiu-Jitsu. Of course, go to the occasional party, have a fast food meal, etc, but try to lead a lifestyle that reflects your goals on the mats. It does make a difference at how fast you learn and it is a big one.
If anyone says that you can’t learn BJJ fast, you might want to consider not listening to them. BJJ has a progression of belts and levels, but the speed at which you learn the actual art has nothing to do with belts and grading. On the contrary, it has to do with how well you understand how JIu-JItsu works. Gain that knowledge, and you’ll both be progressing through belts and learning more at an unbelievable pace.