Here are some questions I had in my first six months as a Jiu Jitsu Beginner…
1. How long does it take to get a stripe on my belt? And how long to advance to the next belt color and eventually become a black belt?
My instructor has said that a black belt can easily take ten years to achieve, especially if you have a family and a full-time job. It can be difficult to spend enough time training! There is a great post at aesopian.com about this, where he talks about the various timelines for the different color belts. Here are his graphs on it, but go to his site to read the article:
2. What is the best place to purchase a gi?
There is no “best place”, but I would start with the gym or dojo where you choose to train. Purchase your first gi there as a way to support the school. After that, you could look around at some other sources to purchase a gi. Such as:
Fighters Market (my personal favorite)
3. I started BJJ recently, but I’m getting frustrated with my lack of progress: how can I overcome this?
3 words: more mat time. That doesn’t just mean rolling with your best buddy either. You have to split that mat time between drilling techniques, rolling with higher belts, and rolling with equals and lower belts.
4. Do I need any protective equipment?
Brazilian jiu jitsu is a grappling art, but you will still find that elbows or knees can make accidental contact with parts of your body that don’t enjoy hard contact. So how can you best prepare for that?
Using a mouthguard is a no-brainer. A lot of guys in my gym don’t use one and I didn’t for a long time, but I started talking to some guys who do and discovered that they are not a major inconvenience. But they are well worth the the prevention of a chipped or lost tooth.
You could also wear a cup, but most guys don’t because you don’t get hit in the groin very often and they can be awkward and uncomfortable.
5. How often should I train, as a beginner?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors. One is your ability to retain things you learn. I do not retain things very well, so I’m effected by it when I miss an extended period of time (I recommend keeping notes from each class, as it can help retention a lot, especially if that’s an issue for you). Your current fitness level also comes into play.
Take this as a general rule for how quickly you’ll progress based on how often you train:
1x per week = very little progress, difficult to retain knowledge
2x per week = maintain skill set and knowledge, but not much growth
3x per week = gradual improvement
4x per week or more = Soon you’ll start lapping people that started at the same time as you
Ultimately, you should listen to your instructor’s answer on this on (and all things Jiu Jitsu, for that matter).
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