Simple Not Easy: Things I wish someone said to me as I started as a white belt.
I was recently doing a private with a white belt who told me she was afraid to roll and spar. I was shocked because theses are some of my favorite parts of training. But then I thought am I so far removed from my beginnings that I take my knowledge for granted? Then I thought back to when I was starting out and thought about all the things I wish upper belts said to me when I was a white belt.
1. “This was hard for me too.”
I think as upper belts we sometimes forget how difficult Jiu Jitsu is. We have been doing it for so long that we take our knowledge for granted and assume knowledge. When I started I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t understand the move or I couldn’t pull it off when I rolled. Then I realized when I became an upper belt that this is hard and I respect anyone who comes in knowing nothing and tries Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
2. “I used to cry in the bathroom then get back on the mat.”
I’m extremely hard on myself and when I didn’t perform to the standards that I thought I should, I would take it out on myself and I would start to cry. Now where I started training there was definitely a culture of leave your sensitivity at the door. So I would go to the bathroom cry and then get back on the mat. Well I’m still here and still training. I just want to let people know that it’s normal to get frustrated.
3. “I was scared to roll and spar when I started.”
Who isn’t scared to start sparring or rolling for the first time? Well I’m sure there are some people. At least it was scary for me. I didn’t know what I was doing. How do I start? What should I try to do? I had all of these questions in my head right before we would shake hands and start. Just remember it is scary and that’s ok we learn best when we push our comfort zone.
4. “Just try to survive a little better each time you train.”
I used to be really hard on myself because I wouldn’t tap anyone when I started and I would get tapped 30 times a night instead. That can be demoralizing, especially when you don’t know anything already. So all you have to do is change your perspective. Every night try to survive a little longer you won’t be nearly as frustrated.
5. “Try not to compare yourself to others in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.”
This is the best advice I could give anyone and the advice I wish I heard when I first started. This is true not only for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but all of the martial sciences. Martial arts are your own personal journey and your development is unique to you. No one else has your background, your physical limitations or strengths, or your learning style. It would be silly to compare yourself to others, but because martial arts are combative, they are competitive by nature. It is really hard to step back and realize that where you started is the only thing you should compare yourself to.