What’s rolling like at different belts in BJJ?

Over the years of training did you notice any big jumps in your skill level or did the change come very gradually? This is what progress has felt like for me across different belts.

White Belt

Being a white belt is a magical time when you’re so excited about jiu jitsu that you don’t even mind getting tapped all the time as you continuously do all the wrong things. You’re always happy to roll with everyone and twist your joints in awkward directions in the process.

Everything about BJJ and the training lifestyle is so new that you just can’t get enough of it. You’re telling all your friends about this new great sport where you learn to strangle people in a padded room. If this doesn’t get them excited then you don’t know what will!

Any sort of etiquette is a foreign concept at this stage, which means that squeezing people’s ribs in closed guard, burying your elbows into their thighs or choking your opponent by pushing your forearm into their neck is perfectly fine.

If you train regularly, strange things begin to happen. At first, you start getting tapped a little less, but soon enough you’re regularly getting subs yourself. Suddenly realising that the ratio has changed was a happy shock to me.

Blue Belt

You’re now regularly tapping people as well as getting tapped. But you’re also starting to realise that these guys that you beat in training are not really going that hard on you.

You can now remember most of the basic techniques and start making connections between stuff. If you haven’t taken interest in specific techniques at white belt, you’ll likely specialise in something now. “Who needs to do leg drags properly if I can get a straight footlock?”

When conclusions like this clash with reality in competition it often leads to learning the rules properly.

Purple Belt

I’ve heard many people say that if you make it to purple belt, then you’ll make it to black belt too. Not sure how accurate this is, but the difficulty level does get turned up at this stage.

If you roll with people of the same grade or above, easy rolls become a rarity. On the other hand, the difference between competitors and casual practitioners really starts to show at purple belt.

You can figure out how things work without seeing them before and if you haven’t already started this is when you go off and explore techniques outside of class.

Oh and there’ll be a lot more body maintenance required, as the knee twisting at white belt has taken its toll.

Brown and Black Belt

Can’t tell you anything about these yet, but I’ll update this post when there’ll be something to share.

Did you go through these stages?

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