Expectations and Responsibilities of Rank – Part I – White Belt


Each instructor will have his or her own criteria for what is
expect of any given rank. These posts describe how it works at Valhalla Academy
and among my affiliates. Notice that this has nothing to do with getting the
rank, but involves what is expected of you as you hold the rank

White Belt

You are a pure student. Your mind should be like a sponge as
you focus on the fundamentals of position, balance, posture, and movement

You are going to ‘lose’ in training quite a bit at this
level. But every bad position you find yourself in and every submission you tap
to contains a lesson. Listen to the upper ranks as they will all have little
bits of wisdom. You will get advice from all types of advanced students and
sometimes the more experienced white belts can help you most of all. Let go of
your ego and just focus on learning rather than getting stripes or belts. It is
very easy to feel overwhelmed, but if you stick with it for a few months things
will start to click into place.

Rank will come with skill and time and the only way to get
this is to get on the mat and train. After you have been training for several
months the newest students will look up to you and follow your lead. You need
to start helping them through the issues that you had when you first came in:
confusion, intimidation, and that sense of not belonging in a new environment.
Take the time to learn the new student’s names and welcome them to the team.
Relate your own frustrations and how you have dealt/are dealing with them.
Avoid the temptation to just show off and beat them up.

If you begin with a strong background in another grappling
art such as judo, wrestling, or sambo, the white belt is the point where you
learn the differences between your former style and the new style. Focus on how
you can apply what you already know to the new context. Drop out what doesn’t
work and learn techniques of BJJ even if you are initially able to ‘win’ during
training sessions. Focus on your weak areas. For wrestlers and judoka this is
typically developing a solid guard game.

Brian Jones, PhD


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