Four Stripe White Belt: Piecing it All Together - BJJ Training Update, May 2018

in bjj •  8 months ago


Five months ago this week I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I'm fortunate to have one of the top gyms in the country less than a kilometre from my house, and since I signed up for the unlimited membership, I've been hitting it pretty hard.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

One of the things that make my gym one of the best in the country is the systematic training program for white belts. The gym is affiliated with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu out of Torrence, California. Rener and Ryron gracie, who run the gym, have created a 36-technique self-defense training program for beginners. Not only is it focused on how to defend yourself (and dominate) in a street-fight, but it also lays a solid foundation of skill upon which to advance to higher BJJ belts.

The instructors record each session on your training card, showing exactly how frequently you've trained the exact sessions you've attended. Here's the latest photo of my training card:


As you can see, over the past five months, I've attended 95 technique classes, plus 9 reflex development classes. That's a total of 104 hours of training over 20 weeks. That averages out to about 5 one-hour training sessions per week. This probably explains why my Steemit posts have been a bit scarce lately :)

Reflex Development

Once you attend each of the technique classes twice or get your third stripe on your white belt (whichever comes first) then you can attend the reflex development classes. The point is you gain a basic understanding of the techniques, then you start to learn how to piece it all together into a series of moves in a self-defense situation.

In a street-fight, there is no time to logically think through what to do, so the key is to develop the reflexes and muscle memory so that your responses to a threat are instant and automatic. This only comes through training time on the mat.

The reflex development program is broken down into five classes with specific drills on mount techniques, guard techniques, side mount techniques, and standing techniques. We also do some freestyle fight simulation / sparring at the end of the reflex development classes.

Combatives Belt

After eight months of consistent training, you qualify to test for the "Gracie Combatives Belt," which is essentially a glorified white belt. To pass the Combatives Belt test, you must show proficiency on all 36 of the Gracie self-defense techniques, and most importantly demonstrate effective reflexes in a fight simulation situation.

I'll qualify to take that test in mid-August, about three months from now. Between now and then, it's all about practice - mastering the basic techniques and developing the reflexes for the fight simulation.

That's me in the back, just left of centre.

I'll keep you posted on my progress!

If you're training jiu-jitsu, what's your training journey been like?

If not, have you ever considered learning a martial art?

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Oh wow, didn't know about the Combatives Belt. Interesting...I honestly dont get it why R&R brothers are getting so much shit for their way of promoting bjj. I mean...they've just introduced more system into those first loong years of being a whitie. Whole bjj community is kind of proud that just 10% of whites get it to the blue. I've always found it a bit weird...I understand that it makes those blue and purples proud, cuz they are part of that chosen 10%...but at the same time, lets just think if all those dropouts would make it to blue as well. The whole bjj would get into much wider audience...and I guess that's the positive thing of what R&R are doing. People have a clear path ahead of the. E.g in our gym, our sensei is a brown and he's not allowed to give us stripes nor promote belts. So we always just wait till the main sensei drops by in our town and then we almost all get stripes :D bit weird but I wouln't change my gym even if I could...but with this approach you've just described, people have it clear, what they need to do.....e.g I have no idea what and when my next promotiion will be :D And I mean, I don't care one bit, cuz Im doing it for the fun of it. But might be pretty discouraging for other people...Spending first 8 months without any stripe at they leave...hope u get my point haha :D


Definitely, mate. That's a great point about blues and purples finding pride in "only the strong survive." I do think the bar should be high before promotion. But that's the point of the systematic program. I've talked to several white belts who trained for three months at other gyms before coming to ours and they had learned almost nothing, except how to get submitted and sometimes injured. Other blue belts have come to our gym from other places with major holes in their technical game. The bar should be technically high, not "I paid my dues" high. Plus, as you say, the clear path keeps people engaged and progressing to further belts.

Such a great post. All martial arts is at least 95% repetition but something about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is addicting. I have 20 plus years training and counting but BJJ has been the one that I have found to be life changing for me. I am a 13 year student but I love seeing folks coming into the art with the level of interest you are. Keep at it and congratulations.


Wow, amazing. 13 years is a great run. I hope I'm still training in my 50s :)

Thanks for the encouragement!

So good to see you picking up the gentle art with a really good lineage and hitting it so hard out of the gate.

My journey has been a slower one but fantastic. From the start, I traveled so much, trained intermittently, and really snuck up on it so I didn't get my first 2 stripes til I was training over 6 months. A few years later and a stripe into Purple, BJJ has made itself a solid and productive part of a busy life.

I will definitely give you an upvote and add you to my feed as supporting the BJJ movement on STEEMit is a noble thing.



That's awesome. I hope to have the staying power to still be training in a few years. It's hard to imagine stopping though as it's heaps of fun and a great way to stay in shape. Thanks for the encouragement.

That's AWESOME! Hard to beat Rener and Ryron. They're amazing people. My instructors travel out to their school and train with them sometimes. Great gym I hope to visit one day. I hope to see more of your posts training. Good luck on and off the mats!


Same! I hope to visit Torrence someday myself. Thanks for the encouragement!

Its always been at the back of my mind but that time has probably passed. I certainly look forward to getting my kids more involved though. Great insight on one of the martial arts I was not too familiar with!


That's what I thought too, then I saw a guy on youtube who got his black belt at 57, after starting at 47. If it's a gym that teaches a good beginner curriculum, BJJ is the perfect old man martial art :)


Maybe I'll do it side by side with my kids in the future haha. Its good to see everybody giving it a fair crack, makes me look lazy haha


The time is never past :D One of the students I was teaching a million years ago was 70. It took him ages to get things but he never gave up and he got there. And he used to do boxing back in the day so sparring with him was actually pretty deadly as he still had lightning hands XD



Dang 70! no excuse for me now haha

Good luck getting that belt :D

I have to get back into training, wheels came right off that one late last year x_x



Thanks! Never to late to jump back into it.


I'm planning to, it's the trying to scrounge time and logistics around other things that's tricky XD (it overlaps with a child's activity and of course both activities are half hour drive from each other, so need to organise someone else to pick up/drop off the child in question while I scurry off).



I am surprised to hear you have 4 stripes after 5 months that seems very fast to me. but it has been a long time since I was a white belt.


Yeah, it is quite fast, but I'm training twice as frequently as the average person at our gym. Plus the Gracie promotions at white belt are more related to time on the mat than grading (until "combatives" belt).