As exciting as it is to start training jiu-jitsu and learning exciting new techniques each class, there are some common challenges faced by most new students. When we embark on learning any new, complex skill we encounter a few difficulties.
Based on conversations with new students, here are a few of the most common challenges and some advice on dealing with them.
1) “I can’t remember my techniques!”
This is by far the most common problem for students and the funny thing is that everyone feels that they are the only one experiencing this! The truth is that everyone around you also struggles with learning the complexities of jiu-jitsu.
Advice: “Repetition is the mother of skill”. If you choose to concentrate on a smaller number of fundamental techniques you will not overload and confuse your brain with an excess of information.
In the Fundamentals class you will have the opportunity to focus on the most important techniques for your experience level.
Many students report that taking notes when they get home or reinforcing the class lesson with watching Youtube video on that same position is a good way to cement what they learned.
2) “My muscles are sore!”
Ground grappling requires using your muscles in ways that they have not been asked to do in other activities. In any new physical activity your body will have to adapt before your body is comfortable with the new things you are asking it to do. Sore fingers from gripping the kimono, tight neck muscles from being guillotined, sore abdominal muscles from the ground movements are very common.
Advice: The best advice is simple advice.
If you continue to go to class regularly and get some experience repeating the ground movements, your body will quite naturally adapt to the imposed demands.
Before long, what was difficult will become easy and you will perform once awkward movements with ease and fluidity. A little additional conditioning outside of class will certainly help. I used to stretch while watching TV as a way to coax a little more flexibility out of my tight muscles.
3) “I can’t remember the names!”
This is especially true with the Japanese names of the standup trips and throws that come from judo.
There is no standardized name for techniques such as the:
• Americana lock
• Ude garami
• French lock
• It is confusing!
Advice: Regarding the Japanese names for the throws (and some ground positions) many students ask “How do I remember the names?!?” My tongue in cheek answer is “There is this wonderful thing called Google…” You can easily find websites that will illustrate the take downs and the corresponding Japanese terminology for reference.
You are going to have to stretch your mind as well as your hamstrings when learning jiu-jitsu! Knowing the names certainly makes it easier to ask questions about positions. I used to make up my own names when making my notes: “Roll over sweep from half guard”.
Self descriptive and simple.
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam