Regardless of belt level, all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) students have areas upon which they can improve. In fact, this is one of the things that makes BJJ so fun—there is always something new to learn! And for BJJ beginners, everything is new! Therefore, one of the main things that new BJJ students should focus on is the correction of common mistakes. There are several mistakes that almost all beginners make, and they are all relatively easy to correct with practice. Below are six mistakes that BJJ beginners don’t realize they are making – with tips on how to correct them!
1) Tensing up and holding their breath
One of the things that most BJJ students remember about their early days in the art is how tired they would get during rolling. In fact, it’s not uncommon for new students to be exhausted after a single roll. And while many new students attribute this to poor conditioning, it is often actually a result of muscular tension and improper breathing. When involved in a physical struggle, the body’s natural response is to tense up. This response has served man well over the years, but it is actually a detriment to progress in BJJ. In addition, when we are struggling to complete an arduous physical task, we often unconsciously hold our breath. This is a surefire way to quickly deplete valuable energy. So, what can new students do to combat these problems? For one, don’t worry about winning in training. If you shift your focus from winning to learning, you’re likely to relax more during rolling. After all, if there is nothing to win, there is no need to struggle! Remember, BJJ is about learning and having fun. Approach training with this attitude and your progress will go through the roof. In addition, focus on your breathing while rolling. The reason for this is twofold. For one, it ensures that you don’t hold your breath. And second, if you are focused on your breathing, you won’t worry about winning, thereby accomplishing the first objective discussed above.
2) Trying too hard
New BJJ students often attempt to overcompensate for their lack of technical knowledge by overexerting themselves physically. Often referred to as “spazzing,” this derogatory term refers to students who go as hard as they can during training without using proper technique—often to the detriment of their training partners. If you are a relatively new student, don’t try to beat your experienced training partners with strength and effort. Rather, learn from them and try to apply the techniques you learn in class.
3) Overextending the arms
In BJJ, overextending your arms is almost always a bad idea. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, when the arms are extended away from the body, they become weak. Generally speaking, the closer you can keep your arms to your body, the stronger they are. This principle can be demonstrated with dumbbells. If you grasp a dumbbell with each hand, extend one arm fully, and extend the other only as far as it can go with your elbow pressed to your side, you’ll find that the fully extended arm tires much quicker than the partially extended arm. An extended arm is a weak arm. Another reason to keep your arms close to your body is the threat of armbars. Experienced BJJ practitioners love it when their inexperienced opponents extend their arms, as it presents all kinds of armbar opportunities. So, unless a technique specifically requires arm extension, keep your arms close to your body.
4) Bench pressing out of mount
This mistake is related to the one above, as it involves the overextension of the arms. When stuck in full mount, it is a natural reaction to attempt to bench press your opponent off of you. Ask any experienced BJJ student about this, and they will undoubtedly have made this mistake during their early years in the art. In fact, this is one of the things that makes BJJ so effective—it anticipates and exploits natural human reactions to various situations. Needless to say, trying to bench press an experienced BJJ student off of you is not only poor technique, but it will also quickly lead to an armbar. Protect your arms!
5) Weight too far forward/too far back
Maintaining a good center of gravity is an essential BJJ skill. However, many beginners either lean too far forward or too far back when training, leading to a number of negative consequences. For example, when standing over a seated opponent, leaning too far forward can result in you being thrown, and leaning too far back can result in you being swept. Remember, there are very few situations in BJJ in which leaning too far forward or back is recommended, so remember to always maintain a solid base!
6) Taking things too seriously
BJJ is an extremely effective martial art, and it’s something that should be taken seriously. However, it’s important to remember not to take it too seriously. After all, BJJ is a hobby, and hobbies should be fun! Therefore, you should always approach training with a good attitude, minimal ego, and an open mind. Approach training with a playful attitude, and you’ll not only improve faster, but you’ll enjoy it more!
Practiced by students all over the world, BJJ is widely recognized as the most effective ground fighting art in existence. Not only does BJJ teach students how to apply submission holds and chokes, but it also emphasizes takedowns, real-world self-defense techniques, and many other aspects of fighting. If you’d like to get in the best shape of your life while learning the timeless art of self-defense, then you should definitely give BJJ a shot! Come experience the many benefits of BJJ by joining us for a complimentary trial class!
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