Posted on May 02 2019


By Matt G. Peters

By the time a white belt is getting close to a blue belt, they should have a good basic understanding of jiu-jitsu.  They should be comfortable on the mat and have some techniques they can turn to in each position.  They should also not be making senseless errors, and they should be using technique rather than brute strength in rolling.  Let’s break down 5 essential things to know before becoming a blue belt.

#1 – Ability to Relax

Most BJJ practitioners have experienced the white-knuckle intensity of a roll with a new white belt.  They panic, flail, and over extend – and are often completely exhausted at the end of a roll.  This should not be the experienced three or four stripe white belt.  The ability to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” should be well understood and accepted before blue belt.  When that purple belt puts his knee on your belly, you should be able to relax, breathe, and try to make sense of the position.

#2 – Technique Over Strength

Building on the last point, a key principle for a jiu-jitsu practitioner is the reliance of posture, framing, and base to succeed.  When in bottom side control, a blue belt does not use the improper “bench press escape” to get out.  He instead uses proper framing, bridging, and hip movement to regain guard (for example).  Using technique rather than brute strength is crucial to moving beyond the beginner stages of jiu-jitsu.

#3 – Reduce Unforced Errors

By the time a person is nearing blue belt, they should not be making serious beginner errors in rolling.  This means things like over extending arms, planting your hand on the mat in guard, leaving your neck extended, etc.  Of course, variations of these errors will still be occurring for years, but they should not be happening unforced.

#4 – Basic Defense and Escapes

Most white belts will spend a lot of time in poor positions and get submitted often.  Thus, they will naturally be getting a lot of practice in defense and escapes.  When they are getting close to blue belt, a white belt should know basic defenses to common submissions, as well as several escape options from each position.  For example, using a hand to block a cross-collar choke, stacking an arm bar, etc.  When in bottom mount, a near blue belt should know what to do immediately and have a follow-up if the first option is shut down.

#5 – A Few Techniques for Each Position

In every major position, the person close to blue belt should know at least one or two techniques.  Unless they are in an exotic position, they should have a general inkling of something to be doing.  This is a good goal for each white belt and should be happening naturally over time.

Besides this, they should also quickly understand every position they are in, and the basic strategy for that position.  For example, don’t try to put an Americana on your opponent when you are in their guard!

In summary, there are many things a white belt should know before they are a blue belt.  Note that this list was not a catalog of techniques, but rather a collection of core concepts.  A white belt will naturally be drawn toward submission techniques – after all, they are fun! – but focusing on a good base will benefit them much more in the long term.   These things should naturally be developed through attending regular class and paying attention to advice given by higher belts.

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