1. Never Underestimate Any Practitioner – Listen to what other practitioners have to say about the “gentle art.” Whether you decide to take any advice or not is at your discretion, but at least you will be open to new information. Renzo Gracie says: “The first rule to perfect your Jiu-Jitsu is to never be deaf to other people’s knowledge. It’s common to see guys who deem themselves professors decline a new teaching, ignoring a pupil who shows something new. To grow better you must understand how people think and how they got to that position. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s up to you to enhance it.” Renzo understood that it dosn’t matter what color belt a practitioner is, the moment they show you something, just listen and be open to what they have to say. Even if the move is not that efficient, the concept might help your game.
2. Become A Master Driller – The key to Jiu-Jitsu is found in the positions and proficiency of each movement. In Judo, people are thrown and taken down 100′s of times each session. In Jiu-Jitsu, it should be no different. It is essential at any level of your BJJ journey to repeat the basics and drill religiously if you plan on making the movements flow naturally as second nature. Remember, it’s action/reaction. By drilling the moves and making them part of your muscle memory, you will no longer have to think about what defense to use but instinctively execute it.
3. Always Be Attacking – Sometimes the best defense is a really good offense. As Marcelo Garcia put it, “I always try to attack. While I’m on the offensive, my opponent can think of nothing but defending, that is, I’m protected.” As an example, the Alliance black-belt recalls the time when he didn’t know to keep an open guard. He would cross the legs on the opponent’s back and pray for the time to elapse. “I was afraid of attacking,” he evaluates. After noticing the deficiency Marcelo started uncrossing the feet and practising sweeps. He realized that, if he went right onto the adversary, he’d run a much smaller risk of being submitted than if he played defending, applying but rare counter-strikes. Garcia also realised that, by being the first to attack, he would make his opponents abandon their former plan. Bottom line….the best defense is the attack.
4. Never Disregard Your Defense – Despite the Marcelo Garcia “always attack” philosophy, you should still always be working on mastering your escapes and defense game. Rillon Gracie said, “Learning defense improves the attack. I f the lion knows how the prey can escape, it’ll capture it in a much more precise way.” To practice defense in Jiu-Jitsu, Rillion advises the reader into forgetting s/he is strong. “Exercise your patience. Use the weight and the force of the levers,” he explains. “Start practising defense as soon as possible, to awake just as soon the survival instinct in your fighter’s soul.”
5. Always Stretch – Stretching for Jiu-Jitsu is of utmost importance. First of all, you don’t want to pull a muscle while rolling. Injuries happen often in the gym and on the mat because of the absence of a short stretching warm-up. Stretching will also make many of the moves flow easier because of the long-term increase in flexibility.
6. Always Be Training – The secret to being a great Jiu-Jitsu practioner (or in any other martial art) is regularity: training over and over and over. Twice a day if possible. Training regularly leads to evolving and injury-avoiding. For the fact that you keep training, the body gets used to the effort you make. Besides training often, you must divide the trainings, understand that there is a little something called resting. So if in the afternoon the practice is slower, take the chance to rest. If your body doesn’t react all that well in the morning but you know that in the morning the training is profitable, wake up earlier to get your body prepared. Practise more heavily at night, but don’t let it go on till too late, for you might go to bed tense, thinking of training – and end up not resting at all.
7. Bring Respect On The Mat – In Jiu-Jitsu, you must arrive with an open mind and practice with pleasure, not simply wanting to win in the training. You must respect, above all, not only the dojo and the professor, but also your practice-mate, after all you need him/her. In all sports, athletes create rituals that push the negative energy away. However, many Jiu-Jitsu beginners ignore that fact, maybe for seeing martial arts as just a way of defending; a game of win or lose. Make sure to always tap/shake hands with your training partner.