Prepare your body for training
No matter what anybody tells you, you need a certain basal level of strength and fitness to get the most out of jiu-jitsu. You do not play sports to get fit – you get fit to play sports. The fitter you are, the more relaxed you will be during the sparring segment of your classes and therefore the more your mind will be able to absorb. A good level of cardiovascular fitness will speed up your recovery between sparring matches and between training sessions themselves. Resistance training and the increased muscle hypertrophy and joint strength it brings will go a long way in the prevention of jiu-jitsu related injuries.
Leave your ego at the door
Your ego can be a great (if not the greatest) hindrance to your progress as a grappler. As a beginner you will tap often. Nobody likes to submit in front of the other students and spectators at their academy. Acknowledge that it is your ego that causes this discomfort and then do everything you can to overcome it. Accept the fact that you will be dominated and beaten regularly during the initial stages of your training and embrace it as part of the process. The time will come when you are the one causing the others to submit, but before then you will need to pay your dues. But remember that you should not be doing jiu-jitsu to learn to dominate people and prove that you are the toughest guy around. You should be doing it to learn about yourself.
Focus on the basics
When you begin training it may be overwhelming trying to memorize and incorporate all the techniques you are presented with into your game. There is something you must understand and that is that you do not need a thousand different moves to be good at jiu-jitsu. There are so many grapplers out there who can demonstrate hundreds and hundreds of techniques as well as the counters to them and even the re-counters to those. Most of these guys cannot put even a fraction of this technical knowledge into practice against a resisting and determined opponent. A technique only becomes a skill once you can use it successfully in a fight.
Work on the things you find difficult
After many years of training it will be more difficult to break bad habits and correct weakness you have developed. If you are intelligent, you will not allow these negative tendencies to take hold when you start training.
Overspecialization breeds weakness. If you are someone who loves to fight from the top and has no bottom game, sooner or later in class or competition you will meet someone who you cannot dominate from the top and your lack of ability on the bottom will cost you.
If something is difficult for you, make it your focus. For example, if you hate playing from the guard, make it your number one priority during training. Try to get your opponent into your guard whenever possible and work from there. If you are diligent and can accept that you will have your guard passed many times in the beginning (leave your ego at the door), soon your guard will become strong. This applies to all positions and techniques.
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