White Belt Frustrations | 7 Common Frustrations For BJJ White Belts

Jiu Jitsu White Belt Frustrations

Starting BJJ is a fun and exciting experience for most people. However, it can also be a very frustrating time as well. There are a ton of frustrations you will experience as a BJJ white belt. After all, every technique seems super complicated and there seems to be an endless amount of information.

On top of that, you are getting your butt handed to you every class. On top of that, you don’t feel like you are learning anything. The truth is that you will be a white belt for a good amount of time. It will be frustrating at times but you will get through it.

If you just started BJJ you will probably be stuck at the white belt for the better part of two years if not longer. This can be very frustrating for most people.

After all, there are not many activities you can do for two years and still be considered a beginner. As someone who once was a white belt and someone who regularly coaches white belts, I am familiar with the frustrations people go through as a BJJ white belt.

These are the top seven frustrations you will deal with as a white belt in BJJ. We will discuss what they are and tackle the best ways to deal with them.

#1 It Takes A Long Time To Get A Blue Belt

As I previously stated it takes a long time to get to blue belt in BJJ. On average it takes 1-3 years for most people to reach blue belt status. I go into much more detail about this in my blog post: How long does it take to get a blue belt in BJJ? I won’t go into the details here but getting to blue belt takes time.

This can be an extremely frustrating time. Nobody likes being the newbie or the beginner and after training for a long time. Needless to say, wrapping that white belt around your waist before class every day for two years can get frustrating.

It can be embarrassing to tell people who don’t understand BJJ that you are still a white belt. Especially, if you have been passionately talking about how much you love it for a few years.

We have all been in a social situation where you are expressing your passion for BJJ when someone steps in to ask you what belt level you are at.

Your passionate demeanor quickly goes away as you halfheartedly answer: well I’m actually still a white belt. You can logically understand that it is only your ego that cares, but hey you are only human.

I’m not saying that this is the right way to feel about it but trust me you are not alone in feeling this way. I have for sure and probably most other people have as well.

Learn To Enjoy The Process

So then what can you do about it or better yet how should you think about it? The first thing I would say is that anything worth mastering takes time.

The second thing is that it does not matter what color belt is around your waist. Being a white belt is part of the journey and in hindsight, you will likely look back at this time and realize it was a special time.

All you can do is focus on becoming better every day. On top of that, you should think of BJJ as something that you can never really master.

There will always be something that you can improve on. As far as caring what other people think just remember that unless they train BJJ they simply do not understand the situation.

Don’t bother trying to explain that not all martial arts belts are the same. Just keep training, enjoy the process and you will have a blue belt before you know it.

Of course, if you are looking to get to blue belt fast then you want to make sure and focus on mastering the basics. After all, this is what a blue belt is all about.

Investing in a BJJ instructional is a good way to help you develop your game faster. Or better yet just join our free program and get access to our free instructionals that are perfect for a BJJ white belt.

#2 You Are Too Out Of Shape For BJJ

Another frustration many people have when they start BJJ is that they are more out of shape than most of the other people in the class. I understand why this might be frustrating but the only way to overcome this situation is to keep coming to class.

The only way to get in conditioning you need for BJJ is to train BJJ. Don’t get me wrong other forms of exercise are fantastic and will get you into good shape. However, the best way to get in shape for BJJ is by practicing the actual art.

After all, if you wanted to run a marathon how would you train for it? You would run of course. Nothing gets you in shape for a certain physical activity more than doing that particular activity over and over.

So I know it can be frustrating being the first one to gas out when you are rolling but the only way to overcome this is to keep rolling.

Of course, there might be some other problems at hand than just being out of shape. As a BJJ white belt, it is also likely that you are wasting unnecessary energy when rolling.

This too takes time and practice to figure out how to pace yourself. As you continue to roll you will not only get in better shape but you will also learn how to roll more efficiently.

#3 Getting Tapped Out By People Much Smaller Than You

Another very frustrating thing to deal with is getting tapped out by people who are much smaller than you. Sure they have been training three times as long as you but your biceps are way bigger than theirs.

This is another situation you should not let frustrate you but it is really hard not to. This is especially true if you are coming from an athletic background.

The way to deal with this frustration is to simply look at it from a different point of view. After all, the fact that a smaller skilled BJJ practitioner can beat a bigger less skilled opponent is what makes jiu-jitsu worth learning in the first place.

So even though it might be frustrating in the beginning, it is a testament to why the art is worth learning. Otherwise, you might as well not waste your time with this martial arts stuff and just focus on getting bigger and stronger at the gym.

After all, BJJ is a skill that you can learn and if you stick with it then you will be the one tapping out people larger than yourself. So instead of getting frustrated, try and think about it from a different point of view.

#4 You Can’t Remember What You Learned In Class

Another frustration you will experience as a white belt is trying to remember everything you learned in class. When you first start everything seems to go by so fast and it’s hard to tell up from down and left from right.

Even after you have been training for some time it is difficult to remember what you learned in class. This is especially true if you were taught multiple techniques during class. To some degree, this is just going to happen and it will take time for these techniques to get ingrained in your mind.

One thing you can do about this is to get a jiu-jitsu journal. As soon as you are done with class write down some notes while everything is still fresh in your head. Then try and go over these techniques in your mind throughout your day until your next lesson.

If you are overwhelmed by the number of techniques taught that day just focus on the one or two that came more naturally to you. You could also ask someone in class if you can record a video of the main technique from that day. Then you can watch the recording as a reminder throughout the week.

#5 You Are Getting Passed Up By People Who Started After You

Getting passed up by people who started after you can be frustrating. This could be either in skill or simply by belt promotion.

Seeing someone who started after you develop skills faster than you is hard to deal with. It can also be frustrating to see someone who started significantly before you reach blue belt status before you do.

That said, there are a variety of reasons this happens. A more blunt and honest reason is that some people just naturally advance in BJJ at a faster pace than others. More likely, however, there is another reason for this.

Though they might have started BJJ after you that does not mean that they have put in less time training than you. Perhaps they can make it to class five days a week and you can only make it to three. Or maybe they are investing in private lessons or spending more time studying techniques at home.

If you cannot make it to class as much as you would like then you might want to spend some time learning outside of class. Again, this is why I created my free instructional programs and community.

Our free programs and community are perfect for beginners and are the perfect place to ask questions and start to improve your jiu-jitsu. Did I mention it is 100% free? So there is no risk for giving it a try!

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others Just Learn and Have Fun

We are all in different stages of our lives so you should compare yourself to someone who might be in a different stage of life than you are. Or perhaps even someone with a different list of priorities than you.

If you are 40 years old with a family and full-time job you can’t compare yourself to a single 20-year-old college student. They might be going to class twice a day and you can only come twice per week.

For me, Jiu-Jitsu is my full-time job. So I can put in way more time than just about anyone else. But most people are lucky if they can make it to class more than a few times per week.

Some people might also be starting BJJ but have a background in other grappling arts like wrestling or judo. If so they are going to be starting with some great advantages over someone brand new to martial arts.

The point is that you never know who you are comparing yourself to. The only person you should compete with is yourself.

#6 You Feel Like You Aren’t Progressing Or Even Getting Worse

One frustration I often hear from my students is that they do not feel like they are progressing. Or worse they even feel like they might be getting worse. However, I can tell without a doubt that they are getting better and better.

This phenomenon can likely be explained by what psychologists call the four stages of competence. That is:

  • Unconscious incompetence (Ignorance)
  • Conscious incompetence (Awareness)
  • Conscious competence (Learning)
  • Unconscious competence (Mastery)

Unconscious incompetence is where an individual does not understand how much they don’t know about a subject and even underestimates the significance of how much they don’t know.

This is where you are when you start BJJ. You might look at two people rolling and say hey this looks easy I think I can beat that purple belt. Then you roll with them and quickly get folded into a pretzel.

This is when step into the second stage of competence which is conscious incompetence. This is where you still don’t understand something but you start to realize how much you truly don’t know.

When you enter into this stage in BJJ this is where you start to feel like you are not improving or getting worse. The truth of the matter is that you just become more aware of what you still don’t know. In actuality, you are most likely improving.

The third level is called conscious competence. This is when you have developed the skills but they still require your concentration. The last level is called unconscious competence. This is where something becomes second nature.

My point is that you are likely getting better but you are starting to realize how much you don’t know. Which in turn only makes you feel like you are getting worse when in fact you are improving.

Eventually, however, things will become so second nature that you won’t even realize how much knowledge you have truly acquired.

#7 You Feel Like You Are Holding Your Training Partner Back

Another frustrating thing you might experience as a BJJ white belt is the feeling you are holding your partner back. This happens when you are partnered with someone who has a better understanding of the technique than you do.

They completely understand how to execute the technique and you just can’t seem to get it down. In turn, you feel like they are spending all their time teaching you and they are not getting the opportunity to practice.

The truth is that it is ok to be the new guy and this is going to happen at first. Don’t let this bother you because only time will fix this.

If you are worried that you are taking up all the time, simply say to them that you would like them to get an equal amount of time drilling the technique.

They will either take your offer or simply brush it off and tell you not to worry about it. Some people will enjoy helping you along your journey.

Remember The Frustrations You Have As a White Belt

Do your best to remember how you felt during this stage of your journey. That way, you will remember what it was like when you are the one partnered up with the newbie.

Then you can be the one helping the new white belt deal with some of their frustrations. That said, frustrations will come at every belt level. The most important thing to do is just keep getting better and enjoy the journey.

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