Some advice please


I am a 1 strip white belt and I have been training for approximately 9 months now. I currently train only during the day and with a group of 2 or 3 of the same guys. My instructors is a 1 stripe purple and the other guys are either blue or 3-4 stripe white. I am by far the most junior of the group. While rolling on Tuesday I was getting discourage because I was always in defend mode. It's getting frustrating because I can't tell if I am getting any better, because my partners are all better than me. My instructor some times lets me get a gi-choke on him, but then he usually works his way out of it. It is getting a little discouraging.

I am gonna talk with my instructor about it, but I wanted to see if y'all had any advice.


It's called "paying your dues". Against a better player, you will be constantly defending. This is very normal. It's the most normal thing in the world. Don't worry about it.

Go home after each session and think about what you did right and what you didn't do right. What could you possibly have done in those situations. Remind yourself that you WILL get better, even though you are one of the physically weakest members of your gym - like me, f.ex. (even though I'm of average height and weight).

Give yourself a pat on the back if you only managed to escape ONCE from an inferior position, like f.ex. the side mount or the guard. When you get a bit better, you will be going home after each session and thinking - wow, I got one kimura and one armbar. But when you're beginning, and even sometimes after that, you will go home thinking - wow, I escaped once from the side mount (even though you got tapped 42 times that evening). After a few sessions, see if you can't escape two times. This is great. Pat yourself on the back!

I must admit that at times, I have felt that I just wanted to call it quits and leave submission grappling for good, since I was constantly getting mauled by better and/or stronger guys. Now I'm doing MUCH, MUCH better after a year of doing this.

So hang in there bro. Everyone here knows what you're going through. Hanging in there is what seperates the champions from the losers. Not giving up is the most important thing you must do to become better at what you do. All other things are less important.



Hell, I am a bluebelt and I find myself defending all the time. Of course that's against purples, but it is the same thing. Once newbies start filtering in, you will see the progress you've made and you'll be surprised. You'll know how good you've gotten by competing too.

Hang in there. A black belt once told me that a good way to check your improvement is to test yourself with new guys walking in the door. In the meantime, keep working on your escapes.

I agree that the first several years of training are about building the ability to escape, and that the early days are just paying your dues.

HOWEVER, I think it's also worth noting that the instructor should provide an environment where the beginners feel supported and encouraged. If a beginner really ever feels "abused" by the senior students, or that they are "taking advantage" of the beginner's lack of experience, then that's not a cool training atmosphere.

Nobody can MAKE a beginner win, but we can make them feel OK as they struggle!

I am 6ft tall & 220 lbs, and I am also the smallest guy in my class; the only two people smaller than I outrank me by 5-20 years of experience. Bruises and ass beatings are all I saw for 6 months, but now when I roll with someone my size and rank/rank, I dispense the punishment. Embrace being on the defense; I began to ask people to start in the side mount just so I could learn to escape it. Practice escaping the mount and side mount; roll for position, not chokes or submissions. BTW, your instructor knows how you feel.. same as everyone else that went through it. Whatever you do, don't give up; everyone suffers throught the same beatings and thoughts.

Maybe you have a cardio/conditioning problem? Try LSD and then interval training.

Interval training has help my stand up and ground work in judo.

According to Roy Harris (and he should know) earning a blue belt is all about learning to survive. That's what you are doing.

"Maybe you have a cardio/conditioning problem? Try LSD and then interval training.
Interval training has help my stand up and ground work in judo."

ttt for more information regarding the effect of LSD on your training!

LSD = Long slow distance

Dutch Law - I would recommend doing LSD first for 4-6 weeks before HIIT(Interval Training).

Great article on Endurance Conditioning for Boxing!

'Cardio' For the Martial Arts by Stephan Kesting.


Dutch Law - Why are you sad?

I was looking forward to hearing about your experimentation with LSD whilst doing BJJ and Judo. Maybe some funny anecdotes relating to flashbacks while sparring, trying to eat your belt, thinking your flying whilst doing tachiwaza - that sort of thing.

There is way too much (political) correctness on this forum sometimes.

That is why I am sad.

Ask some of your partners to allow you to "chase" them. In other words let them defend against you just enough to make you work. Have them start in poor positions or be defensive only or at least just enough to allow you to constantly work on your attacks...

Your training partners should be putting themselves in inferior positions every once in a while as well. IMO it doesn't do you any good to speed tap inexperienced people in class everytime you roll. Your more experienced training partners should be allowing you to get them in inferior positions every now and then.

Dutch Law,

I too would like to hear any interesting stories of tripping on lsd or mushrooms and sparring.

3 types of sparring/training:

1.) Competitive

2.) Cooperative

3.) Creative

Sounds like you are getting mostly #1.  Ask someone to just roll light with you, and "allow" you to try some stuff - and if you do it correctly, let you have it!!  That will give you feedback on if you are "attacking" correctly, and let you know you are getting better.  Or, they can point out WHAT you are doing wrong.

People who are better than you have two responsibilities, in my opinion.  The first, is to make sure you bust your ass and EARN your next belt.  But, the other is to also HELP YOU get there!! 

When your instructor lets you set up the collar choke, does he give you feedback afterwards?  Does he escape but also say "Good job, that was close - you woulda had a new guy no problem," does he say "Nice try, but let me show you what you are doing wrong," or does he just escape and say nothing?  If it is the last example, you need to have a talk with him about giving you more feedback and communication - it accelerates the learning curve SO MUCH.

Beyond that, you are just paying your dues, like everyone else said.  When you can consistently escape off your back, you will find many more opportunities to attack.  Also, as your guard work improves, you'll find the same.  Until then, it's just practice, practice, practice, and tap, tap, tap............ Nobody ever said that developing a functional skill would be easy.

Anyway, my 2 cents on the subject.