Keith Thompson wrote me saying he started BJJ 6 months ago and he feels that he is not getting any better. He asks if I have any advice to help him progress faster.

He says there are days when he gets beat up by everybody in the gym. However, other days his game seems to click and he feels good about his jiu-jitsu.

I think everybody in BJJ from white belts to high level black belts go through these phases of development and frustration. Every sport, including jiu-jitsu has phases of peaks and valleys. Many times, you can go for months feeling that you aren’t improving. Then suddenly everything clicks and you realize your game has improved significantly.

I recommend that you always try to improve and learn more about BJJ. You can do this by asking your instructor questions, watching instructional videos, and watching competition footage. Also, you can study a grappler who has a similar game to yours. For example, if you like the x-guard then watch Marcelo Garcia videos. It will help your game a great deal.

Therefore, don’t worry too much or get frustrated about the periods when you feel that you aren’t improving. I say this because even professional grapplers go through these same emotions. Just accept that you will have weeks when your training is going great and you are beating your training partners. Then the opposite often happens the next week, your training partners will beat you. It’s all just part of the learning process.

Personally, I go through these feelings as well. This is one reason I like to compete so much. Competing helps resolve these feelings of doubt regarding your progress. For example, many times I’m training great in the academy and beating my training partners. However, when I go to compete I lose. There are other times that I feel my game is not improving and my training partners are beating me. Then I go to compete and I win.

That’s just another example of why I say don’t worry too much about if your game is stagnant because it’s probably getting better. I believe every day on the mats makes you better, even when you don’t realize it.

I think as a white belt you should really focus on fundamentals. Try to learn all the most basic positions such as the scissors sweep, hand on the belt sweeps from closed guard, and opening your opponent’s closed guard.

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Don’t focus on advanced techniques such as the berimbolo or going inverted. Instead, concentrate on the basics and that will help you find your game. Later you can start doing more advanced techniques. Once you have solid fundamentals your game will branch out. You will have a chain of techniques and reactions against your opponent.

I never force my students to compete. They need make that decision for themselves. However, I know competing is the best way to find out about your game.

When you step up and put it on the line, it’s the ultimate test of your BJJ. It’s a great learning tool. You can find out what you need to work on in order to improve. It will also help you discover what kind of game you want to develop.

Here is the breakdown for Keith’s question regarding how he started BJJ 6 months ago and he feels that he is not getting any better:

  1. Everybody who trains BJJ goes through stages where they feel they are not improving. Just remember that you are getting better even though you may not realize it.
  2. There are peaks and valleys and periods of stagnation in any sport that you practice. Therefore, don’t worry about it too much.
  3. White belts should focus on fundamentals. Learn the basics and you will discover your game.
  4. Study jiu-jitsu as much as you can. Watch instructional videos and your favorite grapplers competing.
  5. Also, study a grappler who has a game similar to yours and that will help you improve quickly.
  6. When you are ready you can compete. That is the best way to improve and find the positives and negatives of your game.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Oss.

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