White Belt – The Most exciting Time In Your Jiu-jitsu

I was speaking with a senior GB Black-Belt from Brazil about what it was like to teach a class of black and brown belts. I expected the senior black belt to say that he was much more interested in teaching experienced belts because he could show some really cool and advanced positions.

But he said that for him teaching beginners was just as satisfying as teaching black belts!

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He explained that sure, when he was teaching black belts they could really explore some of the advanced positions and techniques. But he added, the improvement of white belts was so rapid that it was very rewarding to him.

Any students who have been training a while will recall the early frustrations of being a beginner and feeling overwhelmed at times. However, it is also the period that we fell in love with jiu-jitsu and became addicted!


Every class brings a new discovery, a new position, a new sweep, each new technique more interesting than the previous!

Every class shows a solution to a problem that we have been experiencing on the mats and we can’t wait to try it in rolling.

Every class we see an amazing submission or escape that blows our minds and expands our wonder about the art.

Every class the movements become a little more smooth and take less effort.

We start to see how the individual pieces fit together to make our jiu-jitsu game.

A story from the mats: This week in class, one of the beginner students was sitting at the edge of the mat observing two more experienced belts roll. That very class we had worked on taking the mount, maintaining the position and then attacking and finishing with a straight armlock. During the roll, one of the students succeeding in mounting and tapping the other with that same straight arm bar from mount.

The beginner was astonished!  You could figuratively see the “light bulb” turn on over his head and his eyes beamed with excitement. He turned to me and said “Hey, that is what we just did in class! It really works!”

I could see that something had clicked in his mind and sure enough, he was early to the next class full of enthusiasm to train! Yes, white belt is a period where there are some early challenges – but it is also the most exciting time in your jiu-jitsu journey.

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Credits: Mark Mullen 
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ