GB Student Question: “Does the instructor have to get me caught up or is it my responsibility?”

A new GB student, Anthony, asks “I have a question for the collective on here (the GB Online Community)… I joined late into this program and I just started jiu-jitsu… My question is, is it the professor’s job to teach me or to get me caught up on pretty much everything since I wouldn’t really know anything. Or would I have to take it upon myself to do my own research and start from there!
Have you checked out the GB Online Instagram account?
This is a pretty good question. As a beginner to jiu-jitsu, it can be pretty overwhelming when you get a glimpse of just how much there is to know in jiu-jitsu and furthermore, how much you don’t know! You may have a sense that some extra study time is required to get up to the same speed as the other white belt students in your Gracie Barra school.
The answer is that the best way to “get caught up” is to go by what is presented in the GB1 Fundamentals curriculum. The curriculum is designed specifically to teach you the most essential techniques of BJJ to build your foundation – as quickly as possible. Not only are certain basic techniques taught, but you spend the majority of your training time fleshing out the skeleton of your jiu-jitsu on which you will build more advanced skills later. But first things first; that means getting familiar with the best, basic techniques for each of the major ground positions that are covered over the 16 weeks of the GB Fundamentals curriculum.
Now if you want to do extra, the best way to augment your regular classes at Gracie Barra is not to try to sneak into the advanced classes or go down a YouTube video rabbit hole until 3 am watching inverted guard and berimbolo. The best use of your supplemental training effort is to get yourself a training partner and drill the techniques that you learned in class. Concentrate on these techniques IN THIS ORDER; these are the fundamental skills you must develop in order to be able to perform the more advanced techniques later on in the future. You can’t expect to be great at advanced positions like Outside Hook Guard or Lasso Guard until you have gotten a foundation of movements (like the Technical lift) that you are building in the Fundamentals course.
The biggest problem faced by the new student (under 2 years of training for example) is not a lack of information. The problem is the opposite…TOO MUCH information! How can too much information be a problem?
For the reason that as a beginner, you just don’t know which techniques are most suitable for your current level of development. You just don’t have the experience to evaluate a technique and judge whether it is a minor, advanced technique that is useful only in specific positions and situations or if the technique is one of the highest percentage basic techniques that everyone needs to have in their game.
Someone might be spending their valuable training time on a Reverse De la Riva guard sweep (because it looks awesome and they saw it used in a competition by a World Champion) or the basic technique of replacing the guard when you are stuck under side control. Mastering the fundamental technique is FAR more important than an advanced sweep with a narrow window of usefulness.
So how do you know which techniques are most important to you? What positions learned now will best equip you with a solid foundation to learn those advanced, fancy (and fun!) moves in the GB2 and GB3 classes?
Thankfully, the masterminds behind the GB1 Curriculum have worked all of this out for you. The GB instructors behind the Fundamentals curriculum have seen thousands upon thousands of students train in their Gracie Barra schools over the years. They understand the path. They understand the step-by-step development of a jiu-Jitsu student’s skills that leads to the colored belts. There is a sound method and direction behind the planning of the curriculum.
The takeaway from this answer should be that the fastest way to “get caught up” is to simply be consistent in coming to the GB1 classes and doing your best to assimilate what the instructor teaches. And if you are particularly keen to go faster, get yourself a drilling partner and drill the moves that you are learning in class until they are burned into your muscle memory. Even if it is not clear to you why a particular move is considered an essential basic and another more advanced move is not being shown in the GB1 classes, work those basics!
This is the fastest way to progress at the start of your jiu-jitsu training.
See also on GB Blog: GB Values: Body & Mind with Master Carlos Gracie Jr.
Writer: Mark Mullen, Gracie Barra Black Belt