Focus of New BJJ White Belt

What to Focus On as a New BJJ White Belt with No Submissions

When you first start as a new BJJ White Belt, it can be overwhelming. There is so much going. It can be overwhelming and somewhat confusing about where to start.

I experienced this issue when I began training. And it is a question one of my new White Belts named Taylor recently asked me about. His question was essentially asking what to focus on as a new BJJ White Belt.

(If you’d like to read more about my early days in BJJ read this old post.)

So in this video, I share several tips about how I personally went about the initial phase of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as a brand new White Belt with little to no submissions in my useable technique arsenal.

Tips for a Brand New BJJ White Belt

I share some tips for people who are more comfortable on the bottom playing form Full Guard and I share some options for people who are more comfortable playing from the top positions.

The general idea in this video is that if a brand new BJJ White Belt. Your goal should begin as just being able to control position as best you can and survive initially. 

If you can control the basic positions (holding full guard, maintaining top position, etc) then overtime you’ll find that you’ll be able to mount some sort of offense attacks afterwards. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has the old saying of “position before submission” and this is so true. If you can control the position consistently and reliably. You’ll be able to have more opportunities to attack or defend yourself effectively.

But in the beginning, if you don’t have the ability to maintain positions properly. You’ll be hard pressed to mount any submission attacks or offense techniques. So this should be one of your main focuses in the beginning of training. So if you are brand new, and you’re wondering what to focus on during rolling or Bjj training. This is a basic answer.

So for all the newcomers to BJJ, I hope this video is useful to you!
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Using a BJJ Book

3 Easy Ways to Use a BJJ Book to Boost Training

Want 3 tips on how to use your BJJ book effectively for training? Maybe the book is just filled with awesome content and BJJ techniques. Well how do you decide on which BJJ techniques to focus on and implement?

In this video I give several tips on how to use a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu book effectively. I focus my attention on Jiu-jitsu University, as an example since it was requested by one of the viewers.

He said that he bought this particular BJJ book in order to help him develop his grappling abilities and is wondering on how to make the best use of it for training and his BJJ development.

The Basic BJJ Book Tips Are. . .

1. USE THE INFORMATION! Don’t let the books, dvd and videos you consume go to waste. Put into motion the things you’re absorbing. Remember, information is just information. Execution of this information is what matters.

2. Focus on problems you’re encountering during your Brazilian Jiujitsu training. Oftentimes when we have a deficiency in our game. We somehow seem to find ourself there constantly. So it’s very helpful to plug the holes in your game. Find areas to help you focus on those areas is a good idea.

3. Focus on positions where you’re already effective. This will allow you to easily slide new techniques into the mix. Often if you’re already good at a particular position. Adding another technique you see in a BJJ book won’t be a problem.

3. Augment the training your BJJ coach is already covering. So for instance if you’re covering Guard Passes. Find more options on Guard Passing in the book to go along with what you’re already doing. This will help you further develop those areas and stay on track with your coach in your gym.

I also share an idea on how you might use a BJJ journal along with a BJJ book to hold yourself accountable in regards to the techniques you’re trying to add to your game.

I hope the video is helpful!

Additional BJJ Book Posts

3 BJJ Books for Anyone

My Favorite BJJ Books 


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older bjj coaches

Common Fear of an Older BJJ White Belt

When you’re an older BJJ practitioner on the mat. Often you have to do things a bit differently than your younger training partners. Like moving a bit slower. Now, does moving slower during BJJ training make you lazy? This is a worry that one of our friends has currently with his training.

He is a 40 year old 2 stripe white belt and is wanting to move towards a slower Brazilian Jiujitsu game. This is because he often putters out during the Bjj rolling session when he tries to match the pace of some of his training partners. The issue he is having though is that he feels like his coach will look at him as if he is lazy and not progressing.

He also shares that he feels like he is kind of hanging on to his younger self and that part of the reason he goes so fast during training is because he is still trying to be that younger person.

In this video (below) I talk about slowing down your BJJ game to adapt to being an older guy or woman in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. While this is directed towards an older BJJ White Belt in particular. The same tip could be used for anyone in BJJ who is trying to make their game more efficient.

An Older BJJ Practitioner and Being Slower Doesn’t mean Lazy

As I share in the video. Moving slower when you’re doing BJJ doesn’t mean you’re being lazy or not progressing. In many cases, it just means you’re attempting to become more efficient with your movements and making everything count. Rather than expending lots of energy unnecessarily with movements that don’t really get you anywhere.

So whether you’re an older BJJ practitioner who is in the thick of Brazilian Jiujitsu and is looking to adapt to a slower game or if you’re just looking to slow down your game a bit when you’re rolling. Hopefully the tips in this video are helpful to you!

Thanks for watching!

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leg locks in bjj

Are Leg Locks in BJJ More Dangerous Than Other Submissions?

Are Leg Locks in BJJ really that Dangerous? Some people avoid them like the plague citing that leg locks are so destructive that they shouldn’t almost not be practiced at all. As if they are some evil section of grappling that should be avoided at all costs.


But in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, as I think we all know, all submissions are dangerous and have the potential to alter someone’s life in a very profound way. I’ve met people who have had permanent caused by things like armbars or rear naked chokes (improperly applied), which many unanimously agree are “safe” submissions to use in BJJ training.

Rolling is a Serious Game

Because of this inherent danger in everything we do on the mats. I think it’s always important to remind ourselves of just how serious the game of Rolling can actually be. We have a blast and it’s so much fun. But when it comes time to finish our training partners in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. We have to be smart.

Accidents happen in BJJ and people get injured. It’s just how it is and there is no way around it completely. But one goal we should always keep close to home as a training partner is to do everything in our power to ensure our partners leave in the same shape they came in. So if they were healthy and uninjured walked into the gym. They should be that way walking out.

Aversion to Leg Locks in BJJ

Many people have a certain aversion to Leg Locks in BJJ. I know that during my first few years of BJJ. A lot of coaches at this time talked about the techniques as if they were evil and just bad! It reminded me of the Dark Arts of Harry Potter or something.

But overtime they’ve become more and more prominent in BJJ and because of this more and more people are practicing them as part of their Brazilian Jiujitsu. I believe their prominence was caused by the gaping hole that was created by the lack of people in Brazilian Jiujitsu actually focusing on the lower body submissions.

I personally had to let go of the consistent idea that I had about leg locks in BJJ. That idea was mainly that they were too dangerous.

I’ve actually found through years of coaching that with proper knowledge they’re just about as safe as anything else. In fact, inside our gym over the last 3 years I’ve seen less injuries related to Leg Locks since we started practicing them on a weekly basis.

People are more sensitive to them now, they know how to escape and they know how to apply them with control. They know when to tap and how to adjust their body through the technique.

I know you may not agree. But I hope you at least consider the way you think about Leg Locks. Are they you’re own thoughts based on your own experiences, or are they the beliefs of another person?

Because through my experience as a BJJ Black Belt and Coach. Whether we are talking about an Armbar, Kimura or a Heel Hook in BJJ. . . they are all dangerous.


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Why You Shouldn’t Teach BJJ to Yourself (When You’re New)

What is the most efficient way to train BJJ? Is training yourself Brazilian Jiu-jitsu an effective way to learn the martial art? Should you teach BJJ to yourself?

In this video I touch on this subject.

Our friend Nate on Youtube sent a message saying that he wants to maximize his time and save money by training with his friend in a basement first before he eventually joins his local 10th Planet BJJ gym.

He’s doing this to sort of bypass the White Belt phase of his training and prepare for his Blue Belt. So he plans to do this by using his friend to teach BJJ to each other.

Why Is Smart Not To Teach BJJ To Yourself

As I share in the video I think this is a bad idea for your BJJ growth. Primarily because I’ve done it.

When I started training Brazilian Jiujitsu.  I started like Nate is thinking about and piecing together moves in my basement with my friends. This was the way I began my Brazilian Jiujitsu experience.

We did this for about a year.

I found a BJJ gym in Louisville where I would eventually train. And when I did eventually step into an actual BJJ program led by an expert. I realized I wasted so much time training myself! I learned more in that 1 day of training than I did in the year of trying to teach BJJ to myself.

In any form of Martial Arts. It’s always a more effective means to growth to learn from someone who has been there before.

If you’re contemplating joining a BJJ gym or training yourself. I hope the video is helpful to you!


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How To Be Aggressive from Full Guard As A BJJ White Belt

Some people are naturally aggressive, while others seem to lack this innate quality.

Our friend Megan who is a BJJ White Belt  says she lacks aggression. In particular she says she lacks being aggressive from her Full Guard and is unable to pull the trigger when she is rolling in her Brazilian Jiu-jitsu gym. And this is a vicious spiral. Because she lacks aggression due to the fact that her guard just gets passed and she gets passed because she is unable to be offensive.

This is a common situation I’ve seen as a Brazilian Jiujitsu coach.

Some White Belts have too much aggression while others don’t seem to have any at all. Personally I was one of the White Belts that had way too much.

Being Technically Aggressive In BJJ

In this video I discuss some of the strategies I used to build aggression off my back. Because as a Wrestler who got into BJJ second. Being aggressive off my back didn’t come naturally in my BJJ training.

On the subject of BJJ aggression I also want to stress that if you don’t naturally have aggression. It’s ok. Many people are overly aggressive because of  negative factors. Things like ignorance to the positions and fear of losing can cause this.

My goal for anyone wanting to develop more aggression would be to do so based on their technical abilities. Rather than blind aggression. Being aggressive in BJJ is great but doing so without the technique to back it up will lead to a road block eventually.

Anyways, I hope this video helps out any of you trying to be more aggressive in BJJ.


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What is a “Dick Move” in BJJ Training?

What is a ” dick move ” in BJJ? Where is the dividing line between using a perfectly acceptable Brazilian Jiu-jitsu technique and doing something that makes you a jerk, possibly injures someone, or just makes people not want to roll with you?

Before I dive into any more information. Let me say that if you are in question about whether or not you’re using a “dick move” or being a jerk in BJJ. . You probably are.

In the video I share, what I feel, are the 2 biggest determining factors.

Dick Move in BJJ Video 

Those 2 things being. . .

1. The origin of the technique within. What sort of place did this technique come from in you? What kind of emotions fueled it?

2. The intent or objective of this BJJ technique or move. What is the point and what are you trying to achieve?

There are some techniques that are inherently not cool to use. But for the most part. I believe if you are coming from a cool, collected place mentally when you’re rolling. You’ll be less likely to do something someone would consider a “dick” move.


When Used A Dick Move

From my own experience. I did dick moves all the time as a younger practitioner because I was afraid to lose, or because I would get frustrated.

And as I share in the video. You can take a BJJ technique or adjustment that is perfectly fine and change it into something negative just by the mental state in which it was executed.

I go into more detail in the video, plus I talk about the absolute most important thing to consider when you’re rolling in BJJ.

This is especially good for BJJ White Belts who are learning the ropes and trying to figure out what is ok and what’s not.

I hope the video helps!

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2 Non-BJJ Books For BJJ Training

2 Non-BJJ Books For BJJ Training


Recently I was asked about what books I would recommend for BJJ training, Martial Arts and life. While I feel unqualified to touch on “life” I do feel plenty qualified to talk about BJJ training.

I also took this question to be non-BJJ books.

Taking Ideas from Non BJJ Sources

Being able to draw parallels to BJJ through other non BJJ sources is important for the overall mindset of someone training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I think this because if you can find other sources of information or input it helps you get outside of box and ensure that you’re no being restricted.

Think of it as learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques from multiple sources. Your coach, training partners, seminars, drop ins at other gyms, youtube, dvd, etc. All of these areas have their contribution to your training and learning. Not being restricted to one in particular is helpful to your growth.

Using 2 Non Bjj Books for Bjj Training

In the video I talk about 2 books that have had a big impact on my BJJ training.

The first is Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. I first read this book back in 2010 when I started teaching and training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu full-time.

With the ample time I had to train. The lesson of deliberate practice in this book helped me direct my training properly so that I was able to train effectively.

The second book recommendation I share in the video is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

It’s a very short read but packed with all sorts of thought provoking ideas. One such idea is adopting the lunch pail mentality to your creative endeavors. Basically embracing the grind.

Adopting these two ideas, deliberate training and being able to grind it out, made a huge impact on my game.

So to my buddy Luis, and anyone who is looking for some non-BJJ books to inspire their BJJ training. I hope these recommendations help!


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motivation for bjj

Lacking Motivation For BJJ Training

Recently I got a message from Barbaro who says they’re lacking motivation for BJJ training sessions.

After 13+ years (at the time of filming this) I can totally understand the need for a motivational boost from time to time.

As much fun as BJJ is, and as passionate as I am about it, even I find myself lacking motivation for BJJ training.  It’s just natural. If you do something for long enough you’ll get stuck in a rut at some point and we all require a little boost to get ourselves through it.

Motivation For BJJ Training

In this video I try to give some tips that have helped me with motivation for BJJ.

The biggest thing that has helped me stay motivated for BJJ is to abandon the need motivation. Instead, just think of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as something you do, rather than something you need to be motivated to do. I mean it’s amazing, you shouldn’t need that much motivation, right?

In the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He talks about adopting the “lunch pail” mentality to our creative endeavors which I believe is a great idea. Instead of waiting for the motivation or the spark to excite you. You just show up and do what you need to do, just like you would with a job.

Think about work or a job you didn’t necessarily like. Although you didn’t LOVE it. You showed up anyway and did what you were supposed to do. The same is true for your creative efforts. You just gotta do it sometimes, even if you don’t feel “motivated.”

It’s not sexy but it’s a smart approach. Motivation is such a weird thing to pin down. So relying on it alone for help with your training isn’t smart.

I also share some other ideas that have helped me with motivation for my Brazilian Jiu jitsu training and I hope that they help you with your training.

As always if you have any questions, shoot them over to me!



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Escapes From Side Control

Get Better At Escapes From Side Control And Mount

I recently received a question from a BJJ White Belt. He asked how he can get better at escapes from side control and mount.

I’m pretty sure that this is the number 1 BJJ related question I get from white belts in the beginning. Because being stuck under someone’s pressure sucks and they lack the skills to be effective and escape. In turn many white belts spend a lot of time in bad positions like side control and mount.

In this video I give 4 tips that a white belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu (or anyone really) can use to improve escapes from side control or other bad positions.

The tips are (starting with simplest to more in-depth)
1. Learn to take a deep breath when you find yourself in bad positions during BJJ rolling. This will help calm your mind and allow you to think more clearly. Along with keeping a steady flow of oxygen coming to the muscles. When people get in bad spots, often they breathe very sporadically.

2. Focus on using the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu techniques you’ve learned rather than just pushing and shoving with no rhyme or reason as to what your doing. You have to avoid panic and make sure to focus on the techniques you’ve practiced.

3. If open mat or extra free mat time is available. Have a partner attack you in your worst position. The single best way to improve your ability to escape bad positions is spend more time in those position. Practice is what you need.

4.If time is not available or just another way to do it. Find someone you can beat and let them put you in the worst positions possible. Because you can beat them, you’ll be more relaxed and able to practice in a less stressful way.

As I share in this video. All of these tips have had a big impact on my BJJ escape game so I hope they help you as well if you’re struggling with escapes from side control and mount.

Thanks guys!


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