What is this? Well it is really a little open letter to myself when I was brand new to class covering all the things I had wished I had known, some things that are obvious and some others that you just pick up.
Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness
This is one of the obvious ones that no one should need telling.
Your Gi is the tool of your trade, it is what you train in and it is what you train on top of other people with. Think about it, would you like a surgeon to operate with a dirty scalpel or to eat of dirty plates in a restaurant? I think not therefore clean it and wash it after every lesson, or at the very least when it starts to crawl out of your bag. Also make sure you dry your Gi no one wants 3 stone of wet Gi on top of them.
Cut your toe nails and finger nails, no on wants to look like they have rolled with Wolverine and no one wants an infections. In general stay clean, stay nice, that way you will not get infections and neither will your team mates.
Strong in the arm soft in the head
Now I was guilty of this, I had no technique, I was brand new, so I used what I did have which is size and strength. Now I was never one to try and smash people, that will only lead to pain, and I mean your pain, but I would use power. This only works so far and if you rely on it you never learn technique, if you never learn technique you never progress. You will stay the strongest and oldest white belt in the village.
I saw a very good quote that stated
muscle is finite BJJ is infinite.
Youtube is good too watch not too copy
Yeah you may well have seen a cool helicopter-gogo-oma-scoothca butt move on youtube pulled off by an Estima or Ribero, but that does not mean that you know how to do it or how to pull it off safely.
Use what you have been taught, there is a reason that the classes are taught in structure and with order to them. Before you run you have to walk, before a flying arm bar comes an armbar. Develop the foundations, the basics and the positions before you develop the flashy moves, leave them till you are a higher belt rolling with higher belts and everyone will be safe.
Drill and Spar
Do not think you can just spar as you will not have drilled the techniques so will be fighting wildly and you will get tapped a lot. Do not just drill for fear of sparring being too hard, this is the point, you will be pushed you will be tapped and you will get better. Private lessons are great to polish that technique you are just not quite getting but never forget that only under battle is a man every truly tested.
Tap and be honest about it
Simple as that, if it hurts tap, if you cannot go tap, if you are just so trapped you cannot breath tap.
Then smile, shake your opponents hand, learn from it and keep rolling. Do not sit up and say “Well I only tapped because it hurt/I was tired/sweat was in my eyes/ I left my iron on” a tap is a tap is a tap get over it, you will tap a million times that is how you learn. You will earn more plaudits this way then you will by trying to justify every tap away.
Ask the right people
John is your coach, you pay him money, he has a brown belt, these are the reasons you ask him, or a purple belt, we have plenty. They will not take the mick or make you feel daft, just ask, learn and carry on.
Coaching is for the coaches and some higher belts
You may well have learnt a really cool move or can see what another whitebelt is doing wrong, but you know what, you are probably doing it wrong as well just in a different way. No whitebelt is a coach, never has been never will be, it is just not the way we roll bro.
Enjoy it, it is the hardest thing you will do, but it will be the best, you will develop new skills, new muscles and new friends. You will compete and win medals and even more new friends as long as you have listened and followed good advice. You will become a bit obsessive but hey that is just you and nothing will change that. Finally you will find a centre and a peace that has long eluded you.