For many newbies, BJJ feels terribly hard. Being on the receiving end during every training session is not much fun either since you are always on the defense, leaving you feeling weary and discouraged. Granted, learning a new skill takes a bit of time, but why does BJJ’s learning curve feel incredibly steep?
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is an art that not many people are familiar with. It has grappling techniques, which make it difficult for beginners to grasp quickly. Jiu-jitsu students will learn how to take someone down and fight on the ground in class; this takes time because they may be working against more experienced opponents than they themselves have been before.
Whenever you watch BJJ superstars grappling on TV, they always seem to fight with so much ease, and pulling submissions doesn’t look like that much of an effort either. So, why is it the exact opposite when it comes to you? Let’s find out as this article looks into why many BJJ enthusiasts find it difficult to learn this martial art and discover which steps to take to make your training journey less of a challenge.
It Is Rather Complex
BJJ is also referred to as jiu-jitsu. Unlike most other martial arts, which involve striking and punching, this Brazilian martial art entails a different skill altogether; grappling. This skill introduces you to a wide range of new techniques. To be effective in grappling, you need to learn how to do the following:
- Perform explosive movements.
- Utilize timing, agility, and leverage successfully.
- Apply pressure when lying on top of your opponent.
- Takedown your opponent using skills like wrestling and judo.
- Perform basic movements such as closed guard, armbar, and Kimura.
- Fight while lying on your back and still avoid getting smashed.
The practice requires a lot more focus than standard martial practices. As a trainee, keen attention to detail is essential to grasp the intricacies that constitute each technique and execute them properly.
BJJ’s learning curve is also longer and tougher, particularly in the initial year. And yes, you’ll get beaten up – everybody does. While the techniques might appear complex to apply during sparring, constant repetitions allow you to familiarize yourself with the requisite skills. Thus, to avoid getting discouraged or quitting, it’s important to keep motivating yourself.
As you might probably tell, learning to do all the above is no easy feat. But that’s not all. Most beginners find themselves in trouble right at the warm-up stage.
You see, BJJ employs movements that are quite unlike those used in regular sports like boxing, karate, and even football. While these movements are essential in acquiring the proper form and applying Jiu-jitsu techniques, they take a while to master. And your cardio goes through the roof as you practice doing them.
But this shouldn’t discourage you. After all, with consistent practice, you will begin to understand BJJ concepts, including what moves or sweep defenses work. Also, you’ll get to pick the ones you like and build a personal rolling style. While this might take anything between one year to one and a half years, BJJ will become much more fun.
Physically and Mentally Exhausting
As a newbie, it’s normal to be fearful about trying new techniques while training. But this is a mistake. Yet, sparring is challenging when you have little knowledge about what you are supposed to be doing. This is more so when fighting with a heavier person or more experienced practitioner. It puts you on the defensive, making you feel intimidated, frustrated, and stressed.
BJJ sparring is more challenging than the sparring found in striking arts. This is because:
- You get to spar with heavier people.
- Since there are no strikes, you fight with tremendous intensity (100%).
- You spar with more experienced practitioners, which allows you to get better at your defense.
- You get into close contact with your opponent, which can be extremely uncomfortable at the onset.
- BJJ emphasizes ground fighting, a skill that many people are unfamiliar with.
Training in BJJ is a true test of your mental strength, willpower, and physical might. By pulling you from your comfort zone time and time again, jiu-jitsu forces you to dig deeper into yourself to avoid tapping out. What’s more, when you eventually do, you get up, ready to roll on the mat once more.
Has a Long Learning Curve
Everyone has a different learning curve for BJJ, but with hard work plus dedication, you will start seeing positive results. Hundreds of beginners join BJJ training classes each year, but a remarkably high number calls it quits within the initial two years. Reason given? BJJ is too hard.
BJJ has five skill levels; white, blue, purple, brown, and black belt. Becoming a black belt in BJJ is no walk in the park. It takes anywhere between 8 to 10 years of serious training. But many jiu-jitsu trainees join a class with the notion that BJJ is easy to learn.
Moreover, those with previous sporting experiences such as CrossFitters, bodybuilders, or boxers tend to think that they will easily submit practitioners with more experience. But when they get smashed, they become frustrated and demotivated.
How To Improve Your BJJ Game
Here are some useful tips on making your BJJ game better:
- Be consistent in attending your training classes.
- Take private classes if you can.
- Always remember that BJJ is not a fight; it’s grappling, something completely different.
- Avoid relying on speed, strength, or your athletic prowess instead of learning the necessary techniques.
- Practice your techniques when off the mat, watch instructional videos, and read books on jiu-jitsu strategies.
- Engage your body in overall cardiovascular conditioning through lifting weights or running to improve your stamina.
- Set learning goals for yourself to close gaps in your BJJ game, such as maintaining the right posture, playing defense, positioning, or improving your hip movement.
- Practice drills to improve your technique and know when to modify or apply them to suit your style.
- Try grappling with a fellow beginner now and then to gauge whether your skills are improving. The thing is, if you keep fighting with experienced grapplers, higher belts, or bigger-sized fighters, or you’ll continue getting whipped, and this will demoralize you.
- Work more on your weaker moves and positions after class – get someone at a different level than you to train with.
- Maintain a training journal and make notes after every session to better understand the techniques, reflect and help speed up your growth.
- Try and compete often to test your skills and solidify your techniques.
How To Make BJJ More Enjoyable
To make your jiu-jitsu journey more fun, you need to have the right mindset. Next, work on your defense and keep improving your technique to excel in the practice. Here are more tips:
- Always learn from your mistakes and work on fixing them.
- Avoid focusing on winning and try learning as much as possible instead.
- Whenever you learn a new technique in class, try applying it immediately during sparring.
- Go easy on yourself if you keep failing or tapping out to belts lower than you. Always maintain a positive mindset.
Are you having a hard time mastering the tricky BJJ techniques? If so, don’t be so hard on yourself. Ultimately, you will execute your submissions with the finesse you crave, and once this happens, your enthusiasm will heighten. The moves you used to find so hard will soon become effortless, and you’ll be yearning to learn and understand more of them as you progress.
- Fast Jiu-Jitsu: Why Jiu-Jitsu Is So Hard
- Breaking Muscle: Surviving (Socially) the Beginner Phase of BJJ
- The MMA Guru: 10 Reasons Why Your Jiu-Jitsu Isn’t Getting Better
- The MMA Guru: How to Improve Your Brazilian BJJ At Home
- BJJ Fanatics: How to Get Better at BJJ: 12 Steps
- Sherdog-Forums: Why is BJJ So Ffff-ing Hard?!?
- On the Mat: What Makes Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu Training So Hard? (And Fun)
- Quora: Why Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu So Hard for Newcomers?
- BJJ Self Help: How Can I Get Better At Jiu-Jitsu?