Table of Contents
Yesterday, we took to Twitter (now X), and handed the community a simple question, “When does BJJ start to click?” and here is what they had to say:
When Does BJJ Start To Click?
We had many answers to the poll, as you can see we had about 18,100 views on the post with a little over 22 people chiming into the question.
There were many mixed results when we asked people but from our perspective it looks like the initial moment that you can expect yourself to feel slightly competent in BJJ is around 6 – 8 months of regular training. Now, what we did also see is that many people, while saying this is true, said that the “click” really happens later on in your jiu-jitsu journey right when you get your purple belt.
“Around purple belt for me,” BJJ Otter said “I learned enough defense to still be in the game out of bad positions and had enough offense to be a legitimate threat to most guys in the room from good positions.”
I believe that his definition more clearly answers the question of when BJJ really starts to click in the brain. It is at that point where you know how to systematically get out of a bad spot and immediately threaten anyone to still come out on top.
Question for the BJJ Community:— BowTied Grappler (@bowtiedgrappler) November 1, 2023
When did jiu jitsu start to click? 🤔
Your First Couple Months Will Be Like This
“I understood how easily controlled I was the first time I rolled with a black belt. It took me 3 or 4 months before I got ahold of a new guy and got to actually feel a sense of control over them” said Kevin, one of our followers on Twitter from Colorado.
It in not uncommon to see this happening in the first couple of months of training.
For many, depending on your gym and prior experience, the first couple of months will be different but they all follow a similar patten. You will get beat up a lot.
This is a good thing because 1) our bodies can handle it (and you learn this) and 2) you learn must faster when there are direct consequences to your actions. If you are new white belt reading this, you should not be afraid, BJJ is truly a transformative thing to start doing but it takes real skill to get good at this.
If you go in over zealous, you may just end up getting yourself hurt. Be aware that there are people in the room that know what they are doing. Even at 6 months of training, those people will have an advantage over you.
Learn and soak up as much as you can and show up as often as possible in these first couple of months. They set the tone for your journey.
When Does BJJ Get Easier?
Jiu-Jitsu never really gets easy because by nature, it is a tough thing to do. There are many days when you do not feel like training but you just get up and do it anyways.
If you are consistently training, have an ability to notice your weaknesses, and work on those movements, you will progress much faster in understanding how to be more of a weapon. Does that make things easier? In our opinion not really.
It is hard having another grown person resist your movements and put their body weight on you for an hour a couple of times a week, there is a reason why many people end up quitting BJJ to begin with.
Here is what you could expect to happen if you are training for these time periods per week.
1 Day Per Week
Here you may notice that you are getting a pretty solid workout but each time you show up you are still getting beat by most people. If you have been coming for months about 1 time per week, you find the occasional sub as you will learn enough of the basics to at least do damage against another white belt.
But for those who are training a couple of times a week, someone who only trains once is a rest round or a round to work on new techniques.
2-3 Days Per Week
This is the sweet spot. Training about 3 times a week keeps a good balance for an individual to get both weight training and BJJ classes in without feeling like you over training or letting the martial art completely take over your life.
At this training cadence, you will can expect to get your belts every two years and see a good amount of progress over time. Now if you are part of the group that we are about to talk about next, you are well on your way to speed running the belt system and possibly winning some tournaments.
4+ Days a Week
The majority of high-level competitors are spending upwards of 10 hours per week (2 classes a day) so if you are training 4 times per week you are inching towards the competitor realm. If you plan on competing in BJJ tournaments, getting a good amount of rolls in throughout the week is ideal.
You will see many of those you enjoy the competition circuit spending this much time in the gym trying to perfect their craft.
Knowing Your Defense, Offense, and Escapes
Knowing how to defend, attack, and escape from bad positions is something that takes a lot of time to master. Typically it will take you years to really develop your game in a way where you feel very confident in all three of these areas.
We have an entire article on our website highlighting how you can master the art of escapes.
Being good at escaping bad positions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a trait that not many people have. When looking at BJJ, it is easy to get caught up in the flashy takedowns and submissions without paying proper respect to those who have mastered the art of escaping from less-than-ideal spots. It takes complete understanding and control of one’s body to truly excel in submission escapes.
Side control escapes
Escaping side control can be an extremely difficult process. When your opponent has full control of your upper body, it is difficult to regain position, but it is not impossible. Here are a few side control escapes that could be used in a pinch.
Attempting to retain guard is a solid way of escaping side control. Begin by getting your basic frames; one arm framing against your opponent’s head and the other on their hips.
Once you have your frames, push off to create space, lift your hips, and shrimp away from your opponent. Finally, bring your legs back in between you and your enemy, retaining guard.
Escaping Bad Positions is HUGE for your Progress
The title says it all, if you cannot learn how to escape and defense in bad positions your progress will be stalled. Jiu_jitsu progression is like a step function, one thing will build upon itself, and over time you will learn new attacks that lead you to bad spots that force you to learn new ways to escape and attack all over again.
It is a positive feedback loop that can only really be learned through action and mat time.
There are millions of offensive moves to master in the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there are honestly too many out there to name. Plus, by the time you start to read this, there will be a plethora of offensive moves that were created in the meantime. Welcome to the ever-evolving world of BJJ.
In our opinion, a good offense starts with a good defense. Learning other combat sports (like wrestling or judo) also helps with your offensive game since things like takedowns play a huge role in that equation.
Countering and Defense
If you watch the people that are great at escaping bad techniques in the world of jiu-jitsu a few things start to come up time and time again.
Being nimble and having the ability to maneuver out of bad spots as well as a high level of flexibility create the recipe for being great at counter and having strong defense.
Not everyone is going to be nimble or flexible so you have to find your method that matches your style of play and body type.
That could come in the form of speed, footwork, strength, or just being more aggressive than the other person. Whatever it is, you have to master the escapes, countering, and attacking.
3 Ways to Improve Your Jiu-Jitsu
1) Record Yourself
Recording yourself against people that are slightly better than you or that you are slightly better than is a great way to improve your jiu-jitsu. Noticing the little mistakes you make along the way or seeing what went right is a huge advantage for you.
When you start to notice the good things you do, you will start to also notice when you are finding yourself in those favorable positions. When you get there, it becomes second nature for the actions you need to take.
Recording yourself, studying your own matches, and studying other high-level people’s matches is an activity with a high return on investment. Studying film has and always will be beneficial for those looking to get to the highest level. the moment you become a student the game is the moment that you start to separate yourself from the crowd and really get to the next level.
3) Drill More
Drilling has a bad rep.
A lot of people think it is boring and most of the time that falls on the instructor in all honesty. Drilling is another one of those activities that has a massive benefit for those who really want to improve their game.
One way to work drills in is to get your own mat at home and start to do simple drills with a grappling dummy. This has been very beneficial to us and many others who have taken the time to invest in their jiu-jitsu.
We have a 5×10 FUJI mat (use code ‘GRAVEYARD’ to save on yours) on our balcony with a 30-pound grappling dummy that we love to drill with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 3 days of BJJ a week enough?
This is a personal question for you to answer. It really depends on your goals and what you want to accomplish. If you are looking to just get into good shape and get your black belt in 10 years, then yes 3 days is enough time to be spending on the mats. If you are trying to become a world champ, maybe you need to up those numbers.
When should I start training in the intermediate classes?
As soon as you get comfortable. White belts make the mistake of spending too much time in the fundamentals class. Yes, it is good to make sure you know the basics but you should be seeking to train with higher belts or those that are better than you so you can learn your own game.
While you will learn the rudimentary basics in the fundamentals class, you will learn the application of those in the intermediate classes when you have a more skilled opponent to go against.
How quickly can you get good at BJJ?
There is no limit to how quick you can get good at BJJ. The fact of the matter is that it will take time but you can speed-run everything if you decide to dedicate all your time and energy to training. The more time you spend on the mat, learning and applying techniques, the better you will get.