The following things are likely to happen during your first year in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Of course, these things might not happen to you at all, BUT most of them probably will. If the not-so-nice things do happen, just know that you’re not alone and that time flies when you’re learning BJJ!
You won’t fully understand what’s going on in class and you’ll likely feel inadequate and maybe even stupid. You won’t know how to do the warm-up drills properly and you won’t be able to tie your belt properly. You might watch your instructor demonstrate a technique 3-5 times and not be able to perform it 5 minutes later without help. You’ll wake up with stiff hands and not be able to make tight fists for a while (from “getting grips” in class). You’ll be squished a lot.
At this stage of your BJJ training, you won’t understand what people are doing to keep you in “bottom” positions. You won’t understand or know how to counteract your partners’ pressure, and it will be mind-boggling (and frustrating) if you’re stronger than your partners and you’re still not able to escape or submit them. If you’re really rambunctious and go “balls to the wall,” you might vomit during rolling (hopefully in the bathroom). You’ll be very tired after class from exerting too much energy trying to
“win” or get away from your partner during rolling. The majority of your time will be spent defending, and you won’t remember (or be able to execute) many techniques from class to class. Hopefully, you’ll be eased into being submitted, cross-faced, knee-on-bellied, etc. If not, tap early and know that one day soon you WILL be able to successfully defend against these uncomfortable situations. However, the members and instructors at a good gym will make you feel welcome, answer your questions/offer tips when they see you need help, and they will not intentionally hurt you. By 6 months, you’ll be comfortable with the basic positions (closed guard, mount, side-mount, back-
mount). You’ll feel more comfortable with warm-ups, drilling, and rolling. If you train consistently, you’ll begin to understand pressure and leverage. You’ll still be submitted often, but you’ll know some escapes and defenses to things you used to get caught with a lot. You might even know a few submissions that you can work on newer members.
It may seem like some people are using excessive force with you, and this might be true. This is more likely the case if you’re partnered with a white belt as they’re generally more competitive with other white belts. (However, if you’ve never trained a martial art, it might just be that you’re not used to this kind of contact.) As you improve, others improve as well, so they’ll be harder to defend against and they may even “kick it up a notch” to counter your improving skill. During this time, you should notice that most people give what they get, so they’ll go as hard as you go.
You’re still not going to remember most of the techniques from class to class and if you do remember them, you probably won’t be able to do them to anyone with experience. You won’t be able to do the technique of the day to most experienced teammates (unless they let you), BUT don’t give up. Keep going to class. Keep practicing. Keep trying to do the basic techniques when you roll, and you’ll begin to remember them and actually do them to people. You won’t be the newbie forever : )
Congrats!!! You survived a year! This won’t be easy, so you should be proud of your accomplishment when you make it this far : ) You’ll have a couple of stripes on your white belt by this point (if you’ve been consistent in your training) and you’ll have learned a lot. You’ll have grown as a person as well (more confident, more humble, less ego, stronger, etc.). You’ll be able to survive and defend pretty well. You might even remember techniques from class to class now : )
You’ll be good friends with some of your teammates and you’ll feel like you belong. You’ll be better at asking questions and you’ll understand the fundamentals of BJJ. You’ll even be able to work a few submissions pretty well on newer members. You’ll still get submitted a lot, but as long as you hang in there and keep putting in work, your BJJ and your life will improve immensely. See you on the mats!