As you'll quickly find in your jiu jitsu training, the amount of techniques and situations you have to process is overwhelming. People are getting you in bad positions and you are stuck and unable to get out - eventually leading to submission.

Don't worry, you can survive!

The neat thing about jiu jitsu is that it is a great equalizer. The big and strong may actually be at a disadvantage against a skilled jiu jitsu practitioner. The question is how do you last long enough to become skilled.

In a word, basics. If you become a master at just the jiu jitsu basics, you can generally prevent yourself from getting in bad positions and are able to handle yourself if you happen to end up in one. Practice these at home by yourself, and keep them in mind during your classroom training to apply them there as well. After a few weeks you'll have a basic skill level that'll really allow you to focus on learning and applying your techniques instead of a panicked defense.

So what are the basics?

Hip Escapes
On the technique side, this is the grand daddy of jiu jitsu basics. During training you should always have "loose hips". Being able to transition from side to side and use your hips for generating leverage is CRITICAL. This cannot be said enough times. Being able to hip escape (aka shrimping) is important in creating space between you and your opponent for defense and attacks.

A not-so-obvious basic you need to get down is breathing. If you gas out in training or a real life fight, you are dead. It's important to know that you CAN relax, and that you need to slow down and breathe. If you treat rolling/sparring as a sprint, in 30 seconds you will be dead. And considering a typical round is 5-7 minutes long, that would be painful! So slow down, take a deep breath, and relax.

Open Mind
Many people come to train thinking that their strength is going to get them through whatever challenge they face. And just as quickly they are proven wrong by some 120 pound-when-soaking-wet kid with a bit of experience. To learn the fastest, open your mind to a new way of doing things. Learn and use the techniques properly and without strength. Accept that you are going to have a learning curve and don't try to power your way through things.

Most BJJ practitioners are men and as such have nice sized egos. Leave the ego at the door. You have to enjoy the journey of learning BJJ and understanding all of the nuances. If you HAVE to be the guy that never taps, you are going to get hurt early and often. And if you are hurt, you really can't train then. Instead, be open to losing to others in your class. Help each other get better. Become a family. Enjoy the journey!

The basics above are by no means a complete list of everything you need to master. But they are a good start for your journey. Walk into class eager to learn, help your classmates, and train hard. This is an amazing martial art and it will change your life if you let it.

- Draculino


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