Building on a shaky foundation

I've been training in jiu-jitsu for about 3 years. After training for about 2.5 years, and trying a few different schools/instructors, I thought I was getting pretty good for a beginner. I had gotten my blue belt, and was doing well in sparring. I started to get burnt out on training and thought I'd take a short break. Well, that break turned into about 2 years off because I got lazy, and now I've started training again. I've been back for about 6 months, and I feel like maybe I was shitty even when I was training 2 years ago... The more I learn, the more I find out I don't know. I'm one of the bigger guys, at 205#, and I'm still having trouble with the smaller guys because of the basics. I've got a decent guard pass, and some other tools, but I feel like my basics aren't sound enough to apply anything I know. I'm constantly getting my guard passed and side mounted, and find myself having absolutely no tools to get out. Same with the mount. I've got like 2 escapes (attempts) from the mount that rarely work, and nothing from the side mount (which is extremely frustrating, and I sometimes try to muscle out...that's never the right answer).

In the 6 months I've been back, I've never seen the same technique twice. The instructor is an frikkin' encyclopedia of jiujitsu, and is extremely skilled, but I feel like I'm building on a shaky foundation.
The classes are large, and I only come 3 times a week, so it's tough to get any one-on-one time with the instructor to get my game in order. In class, the students are divided up into a whitebelt side and a colored belt side. Basic techniques are taught to the
whitebelts, and advanced techniques are taught to the colored belts. Since I have a blue belt (which I feel should be taken away at this point), I am training with the more advanced students during class, learning new and exciting techniques (but they're useless given my predicamenet of having shitty basics).

I'm constantly asking the guys I roll with for advice, and a couple guys have been helping me out with my game here and there, but they're there to train, not to coach me, and I feel like a nag, always asking
them "Is there something I could be doing better? Do you have any tips on this position? etc" Some guys are helpful, other guys are like "WTF? Just roll, dude."

What I would like to go back and train with the white belts and re-learn the basics, so I can have a strong foundation rather than keep stacking new techniques on when my basics suck. It seems easy...ask to train with the white belts, so I can relearn the basics.

Herein lies the problem... I think the instructor would view it as "sandbagging" and avoiding rolling with the colored belts because I'm always getting my ass kicked in class.

What would you guys do if at this stage in your training you found out that the very basics of your jiujitsu knowledge sucked? Is it time to evaluate whether I should keep training or if I'm destined to
perpetually suck at jiujitsu? Should I take some private lessong from the instructor to see if he can help me fix my game? Should I just hang it up and take up knitting?

(gearing up for the flames that are certain to follow)

Ok, here's what you need to do, its going to take a little extra effort, but that's what improving is all about. If your are stoked about the process, it will be more fun too, so keep that in mind.

You have identified a weak area which is escapes from mount and side. I'd be willing to bet your escapes from other areas are weak to, but lets focus on one thing at a time. The good thing is you have an idea of some techniques that work from those positions, so you are not completely working from scratch.

When someone has a problem with the basics, usually they have a general sense of the move, but they are not getting all of the details right and they don't have the right "FEEL" of the move. What you need to do is FIGURE OUT the details that will make these moves work for you. You have to transform the technique from something somebody showed you to something that you OWN. Here on some tips on the process.

Pick one mount escape, and one side control escape. Come up with a name for them and try to write out descriptions of the move, step by step. For the next couple of weeks, do the moves on your own say 10-20 times on each side on your own, just visualizing what you would do for real. Imagine the weight and pressure of the other opponent. You could consider this a "shadow rolling". Should only take 5 min a day, so I don't want to hear you don't have time.

When you go to class and are rolling with the whitebelts or lighter bluebelts, let them start in these positions and work your way out. GET A NOTEBOOK and jot down a few things that you remember from rolling after class. Try to note what worked or didn't, and note any feelings or ideas YOU had about the techniques. Could just be 2 sentences or a whole paragraph. This should take 5 min after class. You can do it after you drive home, but don't forget.

Don't think of the "learning techniques" part of the class as "you learn these techinques now you go use them". Instead, put a smile on your face, stay with the color belts, and try to deduce the principles behind the techniques(weight, space, hip movement, stong muscles against weak, etc). You can write these techniques and any other ideas down in the note book as well too. Learning techniques is kind of like doing crazy math problems in school. Sure you don't use it in the real world, but the doing of it helps expand your brain.

Think to yourself that you are focusing on improving your escapes for the next couple of months, and just have that in mind when you get to class. When you get bored of that, move on to guard passing, then pick another topic, and so on.

You are not destined to suck IF you take the right approach with the material. View rolling as a lab where you try out new ideas, if they don't work, try to come up with your own idea and try that. This process will help give you jiu-jitsu skill faster and better that any other. You must connect to the material, one detail at a time. You will create your own foundation by involving yourself more in the process.

Thanks lazlo. I'll give that a shot, and try to enjoy the process at the same time!

Lazlo's got great advise, I'd like to help too. First, dont think of rolling with junior belts as sandbagging (unless its all you do), all of your teammates are there to help you train, and you for them. Rolling with junior belts = practice new tech, rolling with same or better = perfecting old tech.

Also, consider your physical shape. If you are gassing quick, you cant focus while rolling. If you are in better shape than an opponent of equal ability, you have the advantage (again, we all know you have the time you only train 3 times a week).

Lastly, just give it time. What makes jiu-jitsu so rewarding is that it takes such a long time to master (for most of us). Try to be patient and you will get better (my game is to train harder and more than the guy who is better than me, and it has worked well).

I'm really am impressed with Lazlo's insight. I've copied it for my records.