5 Essential Principles for Earning Your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt: Stay Focused

Staying focused sounds simple enough, but it’s something a lot of  Brazilian jiu-jitsu students struggle with.

Every aspect of training is valuable, but people often focus on the parts they enjoy most. It is important to arrive on time and participate in every part of the class: from warm-ups to drills and finally free training (sparring). Some students view warm-ups as boring, but warm-ups help develop the movement and reactions necessary to reaching the higher levels of the art. Drills and technical training are sometimes waxed over, as well, especially if it is material you have already been exposed to. Don’t rush through the drills just so you can say you did them. Take the time to do each repetition correctly. Pay attention to the little details.

Remember this rule: The way you practice is the way you will perform. If your application is sloppy in practice, expect the same results when grappling against a resisting opponent. Learn to keep your focus during the entire class.

Also, take advantage of the entire class. After one or two rounds of free training, students often give up from fatigue. Training when you are tired offers a wonderful opportunity to learn, and it’s also a great mental challenge. When you only have a small window of time in your day to dedicate to your training, you should commit everything you have to it.

Remember to focus on learning. You are a student first and foremost. In the era of YouTube, Facebook and other forms of social media, anyone can be a teacher. Don’t spend all your time trying to “teach” your partners. That is the instructor’s job. It’s a great feeling to be able to share the knowledge you are gaining, but it can take away from your focus. There is nothing wrong with assisting a student who asks for your help, but leave the bulk of it for the instructor.

I am fortunate to have trained exclusively at the Jean Jacques Machado Academy. Before I became a black belt, whenever someone asked me a question, I was always polite and appreciative when I told them, “This is how I would approach your problem, but let’s go ask Jean Jacques together so I can hear his response, as well.” This also gave me valuable insight into Jean Jacques’ teaching abilities.

The Grappler's Handbook Volume 2 is by Jean Jacques Machado I never strayed from the student mindset, and it helped me stay on my path toward earning a black belt.

About the Author:

Jay Zeballos is a Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2009 gold-medalist black belt under Jean Jacques Machado. He has been training with him for more than a decade. Zeballos is also the co-author of The Grappler’s Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques. His most recent book with Machado is The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 2: Tactics for Defense.