BJJ White Belt: Starting from the Bottom

For more Jiu-jitsu related posts, click here, and you’ll find over four years worth of posts about my Jiu-jitsu journey. I also have a podcast about Jiu-jitsu which can be found here or by searching for “Tom Writes and Rolls” on your preferred podcast provider.

Thanks for stopping by!


Keeping in line with pursuing my goals for 2017, I recently opened a new chapter in my life and began learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Day 1, Intro Class.

For the first time in years I joined a martial arts school, put on a uniform (Gi) and donned a white belt. It is a newer school in the area led by both an experienced brown belt and a purple belt. The rest of us are white belts of varying degrees and as of this writing, I only have five sessions under my belt. The other white belts are light years ahead of me.

And I don’t mind it at all.

In fact, I’m loving it.

I’ve had the opportunity to be a “white belt” in many areas over the last few years. Weightlifting for one; learning the proper form for the big lifts and slowly progressing upwards until I hit my goals.

Taking an amazing Pistol Course last year is another.

Although the feeling of being a fish out of water or not knowing your ass from a hole in the ground or being shown just how much of a “white belt” you really are can be frustrating, to say the least, it is one that I enjoy in a twisted sort of way. There is always room to grow and become better.

Ego and Hubris (the way I view them), don’t get along.

Ego is a positive force in your life as it drives you to do better, to want to become more and strive to go to the next level. Hubris is the part that has to be checked.

Hubris will tell you, “You’re good enough, just the way you are.”

Ego says, “You can do better. You can improve.”

Hubris says, “Just practice on your own. You got this.”

Ego will reply, “You should practice on your own, but you also need to seek training. You need to get around people who are better than you so you can be challenged, stretched and step your game up.”

And I’ve had plenty of opportunities to either let my ego push me towards growth or let hubris pull me towards stagnation.

Humility is a necessity to furthering your training.

Like I mention in the above linked article about humility, I like to approach training with an “empty cup” mentality. It helps me to keep hubris in check, even in “familiar” territory, so I can learn and absorb as much as possible in order to grow and become better. It can be hard at times, but I’ve found that taking the empty cup approach usually yields the most return on investment for me.

So now I’m learning BJJ, starting from the bottom in so many ways. I’m still green. I’m in unfamiliar territory. Flopping around on the mat, trying to learn how to roll my body. I am dripping wet with sweat after each session. I’m learning that while what I’ve accomplished in the gym regarding strength and endurance is good, it’s not everything against a younger, lighter training partner who is even a month or two ahead of you in practice. There are different breeds and degrees of strength and endurance needed for this new chapter. To top it all off, I’m nursing a weakened/strained shoulder due to over-training at the gym.

There are ample servings of humble pie for me to digest during this new season of my life.

My cup is so damn empty.

And I’m fucking loving it!

Another day of training, another opportunity to improve.

Use your Ego for good. Check hubris at the door. Become better.

Pursue Mastery.

20 thoughts on “BJJ White Belt: Starting from the Bottom

  1. There is no greater stress relief than BJJ. When some big gorilla is kneeling on your chest trying to choke the life out of you it is hard to care about what’s going on at work, your bills, your crazy ex spouse or just about anything else other than fighting through to that next breath. It tends to simplify life’s problems down to its smallest component… Not dying lol

    1. I can definitely relate when it comes to training at the gym, but with only five sessions in on BJJ, I can only imagine! Definitely looking forward to what he journey has in store. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  2. A new shark has been born! Welcome! Best advice for the first year is to roll with Advance sharks and survive. Than after surviving learn something new and use it on the other belts at your level or below and drill it till you can hit it without thinking. Best of luck brother! I’ve been on the path for 4 years finally ADV to Blue belt. OSS!

    1. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it! I’ll definitely take advantage of any opportunity to learn from advanced belts. Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting as well! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  3. Welcome to club, my man. The best advice I can give is to work on your base. Work on bridges, alternating bridges, deep squats, and getting your hips to move where you want them. Have fun, and enjoy the journey.

    1. Much appreciated. While I do squats and deadlifts that help with hip drive, hip mobility is definitely a focus, for sure! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

      1. Yeah, the TKD waters have gotten kinda muddy.

        So, you’ve got three basic branches. WTF – World TKD Federation, ITF – International TKD Federation (and its American “sister” USTF) and the ATA – American TKD Association. Technique emphasis and patterns can vary and overlap in all in some degree or another. The training I had was ITF/USTF.

        TKD’s history is pretty interesting, and like many martial arts, there’s “the truth”, “the truth” and “the truth” lol – but I digress. Having TKD as my first art, I’ll always have a love for TKD. Lots of good childhood memories.

      2. Interesting. You clearly know far more about this than I do. Maybe I should read up on the history.

        I’m taking TKD with my three daughters. Good bonding for us, I think/hope. And good childhood memories for them, I imagine. For myself, I’m going for the “better late than never” approach. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Itโ€™s a blast doing it together! My oldest daughter put a year and a half in with BJJ and then quit for her senior year. It was awesome to roll with her and have that time. Currently teaching my 9yr old son, been working basics with him for about 7-8 months.

        My Dad, Mom, sister and I all trained together. Good times!

        And yea, better late than never for sure!

      4. That’s awesome that it’s a family thing with you all. My four-year-old son is eager to learn both disciplines, but I’m holding him back. He doesn’t need more motivation to fight, the little rascal. ๐Ÿ™‚

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