I was rolling the instructor in my BJJ class on Monday, and in the middle of our match, he starts giving advice to the people in the match next to us.

That’s kinda demoralizing.

BJJ White Belt

The basic order of operations in a BJJ match is take them down, get past the legs, achieve a dominant position, execute a submission.

In early white-belt, you’re learning how to roll in control, how to control your breathing, that you can control your breathing, and how not to kill the smaller people. The smaller people tend to think this is easy, just don’t murder me, but it’s actually very difficult. If I push left on someone and bend their spine, the movements are all off. On a big person, it’s a little twist: not comfortable but not significant. On a smaller person, the bent spine can mean an injury. The smaller people need to learn than yes, they need to tap to avoid the accidental-broken-spine submission, which they don’t necessarily think about either.

All that comes together to the main lesson of white belt which is: what’s going on and what do I do about it? The process of asking those questions is the skill. You look down at a tangle of arms and legs while you can’t breathe and need to process that into half-guard with chest pressure.

Going along with that, white belt is where you start learning moves. You get a few down and combined them with recognition to get to execution. So looking down at that tangle of arms and legs, you start doing the appropriate escape and move on.

What you don’t do yet, and I see this but I can’t do it, is the sequences. I can’t do an escape while thinking about how I want it to land. I’m still too busy figuring out what’s going on right now. The gateless gate before me is this position leads to that position, and that’s what I need to do. But I don’t know the positions, the moves, the analysis well enough. I require practice.