Stages every white belt goes through from

As you progress through your jiu-jitsu journey, it’s hard to forget the highs and lows of when you first started. There are countless moments were I felt frustrated, asked myself why am I doing this, and for fleeting moments – wanted to give up because I didn’t think I would ever “get it.” If you are a higher belt that frequently trains with white belts, you can just tell by the look on their face or their actions what “stage” they are in. If you are a beginner and are unsure of what the future holds, the following will help you understand the stages you’ll go through as a white belt, some quicker (or slower) than others.

Stage I: The WHAT am I doing phase? Most often, common BJJ moves will be confusing and our bodies take a little longer to coordinate with the movements. We feel lost, move like a fish out of water, and can’t believe how exhausted we feel after the 15 minute warm up. Every technique that we learn seems like a foreign language and we often stumble through moves with our partners because our body doesn’t want to move in sync with our mind.

Stage II: We are moving better and starting to get the hang of it. Warm ups don’t make us feel like we want to throw up anymore and we got the hang of hip escapes. “Live” sparring freaks us out and we still feel like a fish out of water because we can’t quite put the techniques we learned into actual play yet. But, we’re getting much, much, much better at… defending.


Stage III: We are no longer the “beginner” in class and we’re starting to feel good about it. Positions and movements are starting to make sense and we’ve gained some confidence because we are no longer the last ones lining up at the end of class. We are starting to confidently build upon the basic techniques we’ve learned at are able to use them when rolling with others around the same skill level.

Stage IV: Here comes your confidence reality check and a possible plateau. Just when we are starting to get the hang of things, we get humbled real quick. What once worked on certain people with the same skill level are not. We are getting submitted and being put in bad situations more often than not… and the people that did not give you problems before are starting to frustrate you.

Stage V: If you have not given up by now, this is when suddenly you feel like the light bulb turns on. It’s like you’re a whole new person on the mat. You movements surprise you; you are executing techniques seemingly flawlessly; and you have an overwhelming sense of excitement every time you train. This is usually around the time when your journey as a white belt comes to an end and your blue belt begins.

I’ve always said that the white belt is probably one of the best belt levels to be at. There are no expectations of you and every day on the mat feels like a new beginning – like a clean slate. Every belt brings new, exciting, and challenging experiences, which is the beauty of jiu-jitsu – the constant evolution of the art, the sport, and ourselves.