What are the techniques that a white belt should master to become a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? What are the differences between a white belt and a blue belt BJJ practitioner?
The requirements for blue belt vary from school to school. What is required at Roy Harris' academy is not what is required at Renzo Gracie's, Marcelo Garcia's, and so on.
The Straight Blast Gym had a good article about how to view the goals of each belt progression. Here's the section on going from white to blue:
White to Blue:
The journey of white belt to blue belt in BJJ is one of familiarization.
Using the map analogy, its where you learn to read the map, this is north, south, east, west, etc . And also, where you learn what the major areas of the map are (neighborhoods) . The combination of the two in BJJ terms is that you need to learn what and where all the major positions are (neighborhoods), and what the major routes are that connect those positions/neighborhoods, those major roads are the fundamental objectives. As an example, the five point passing game that we teach covers the basic objectives you are looking to accomplish as you try and pass the guard.
In short the journey from white to blue is where the athlete learns to basic rules of the road, learns to play the game.
What to work on:
As a teacher your major focus is best spent on the basic positions, principles, and objectives of BJJ. You want the athlete to first be able to recognize what the major positions are, and secondly to understand what their major objectives are when they find themselves in these positions. The sooner the student learns these two things the sooner they can begin to play the game, ie: explore the map. So a good teacher will keep it basic, clear, and concise, and create an environment where a newbie can start to roll on day one without feeling overwhelmed or confused by the tasks at hand.
As a student at this level your major objectives are simple, familiarize yourself with the major positions and fundamental movements. And secondly, relax .
Keeping it very simple and staying very relaxed will accelerate your game faster then any piece of advise I could offer a white belt. Who taps you out or doesn’t tap you out is completely irrelevant at this level. What’s important is that you enjoy yourself, and allow your body the time to familiarize itself with the mechanics of a roll.
Things to avoid:
As a Coach the major errors at this stage involve two things. The first is straying too far from solid fundamental movements/ positions. Teaching lock flows, elaborate submission set ups, or too many techniques in a single class will only confuse and slow down the progress of most white belts.
The second is straying too far from solid Coaching methods, the ‘here is a few new techniques, now lets roll method’…or the ’lets do 500 dead repetitions of this move’, are sure fire ways to slow down the learning curve of any new athlete.
These mistakes remain a constant throughout the athlete’s progress, and solid fundamentals combined with good ‘I’ method classes are a must throughout the athlete’s career. But they are an absolute deal breaker at the white belt level. Intermediate or advance BJJ athletes can still learn and grow even from poor Coaches who don’t really know how to run a proper class, or workout. But beginners will find themselves completely lost, and may eventually become turned off to the entire activity in that kind of environment.
As an athlete the thing to watch out for at this level is frustration. Because you may often find yourself in an unfamiliar position when rolling, and be unsure of exactly what you should even be trying to do, frustration can often get the best of you. The single best piece of advice I can offer at this level is this… .just relax. BJJ takes time, so just enjoy yourself as much as possible. It’s not a race.
Essentially, do the techniques you're taught, train hard, roll frequently with a variety of partners, and get familiar with the positional hierarchy and high-percentage fundamental submissions. Most commonly the positions include at least mount, some form of guard (which may vary from school to school, but is often closed or butterfly), side control, and back mount. Many schools will specialize in variations of this list, so it's not unusual to see a blue belt whose strongest positions are, for instance X-guard and knee-on-belly. The fundamental submissions for low ranks usually include the rear naked choke, cross collar choke, straight armbar, Kimura, and triangle choke.
at the will machado club I go to, there is a syllabus for white to blue which broadly breaks down into
- Positional Drills (moving from position to position)
While there's set techniques for each of those that you need to know, the teaching involves many variations and setups.
To me the difference between white and blue is one of "Basic Mechanics" of BJJ and being able to generally be able hit those techniques reasonably competently while rolling.
This is kinda an old post but I couldn't help but comment. What techniques should a white belt master to progress to blue belt? Well, I'm not sure that at the blue belt level you have "mastered" anything yet. However, at white belt you should focus on certain things to help your overall skill level progress efficiently. I fall into the Saulo camp for the most part. While a white belt should be exposed to submissions, sweeps, etc. that should not be their focus. Submissions are the last piece of the puzzle and focusing on them early on will only hurt your game. I think it comes down to survival. You should focus on surviving. So what does that mean? It means a few things, the first of which is relaxing, breathing and focusing on technique. Stop trying to win.
Second, good posture. I mean have good posture in every position and focus on learning what it means to have good posture from every position. Most schools drill what it means to have good posture when you are in someone's guard. But what does it mean to have good posture when say you are stuck in side control. Most white belts try to escape from side control before establishing good posture from side control. Understand what your opponents objectives are to control you in side control and then nullify those measures of control. Example: Keep arms in tight to avoid submission, block or remove cross-face, create frames with your arms for bridging by bracing them to the ground or your own body, turn into your opponent, etc.
On the flipside learn what good posture means for you in dominant positions and work to create pressure and break down your opponents posture. Submissions are a result of good posture and pressure. You can't pull off a submission against a skilled opponent without good posture and unrelenting pressure.
Third, focus on what you need to do from inferior positions. You are outskilled by your opponents as a white belt. You will primarily be in inferior positions. Therefore your research should be focused on learning and honing your skill from inferior positions. The more you focus on that the quicker you will go from being dominated to being able to dominate. Also, once you start to achieve dominant positions more often you will be able to better capitalize because you have a better idea of your opponents escape routes and can shut them down early.
Lastly, there is one added benefit to this approach. It removes the element of fear which allows you to learn more quickly. Think about it, you are calm, breathing, relaxing, focusing on technique and not focused on winning. Take that and combine it with focusing on good posture and survival techniques. Put it all together and you have no fear. You are thinking rationally. That helps you to progress more quickly. And in the end, I think that is the whole point of training.