Maybe cringe to read later but I will write down some of my observations about BJJ in Estonia after 1 year of being actively doing BJJ.
Ruleset during sparring
Not clear which ruleset should I follow in training. I have been following IBJJF white belt rules myself but so many times have had to tap for unexpected wristlocks, illegal footlocks (for example this ankle lock) and toeholds. Performed by fellow whitebelts.
More and more I see confused whitebelts that have discovered that after one year of training jiu-jitsu they are not able to submit higher belts. And are therefore sad/disappointed and thinking of quitting.
This problem has two ends. One is a promotional aspect where some kind of UFC submission showreel (Charles Oliveira, Nate Diaz, Ryan Hall) is presented giving a false impression of the sport. The other is a personal game plan and the ability to see opportunities besides submissions (which is the very end of the path). If you feel good defending attacks, escaping, passing the guard, playing guard, controlling the opponent, moving where you want to get etc. it is already a lot. Even if you are really good in one or two of these – you are very mych fun to roll with.
Not to forget the points. Submissions are not the only way to win. If you watch this Leandro Lo marathon then pretty much every time he gathers loads of points and then goes after submission attempt.
See also: Understanding Jiu Jitsu by John Danaher, Bernardo Faria & Gordon Ryan (takedown →get past opponent’s legs (pass guard)→ dominant position→submission)
There are whitebelts that accidentally get submissions. Spazz randomly and sometimes you get something out of it. If you ask them what it was and/or how did you get there, they have no idea what they just did or what got them there. Let’s say that I am not a fan of this strategy 🙂 I feel much safer if I know the person actually knows what he/she is after.
First, I am not the toughest opponent. And if there is something nice or intelligent coming (I see you are setting something up with my lapel) then I get curious and I don’t mind tapping just to see what was that. So, if you have the whole world of submissions then how come is it that so often the only thing that you can come up with is the poor ezekiel where you force your fist knuckles into my jaw bone or gums (not even neck!). Not to mention uncontrolled neck cranks and guilliotines (trying to rip the head off and then smashing it to the floor and falling on top of it with your body). Very weird thinking in my opinion that happens too often 🙂 Do fun stuff, beautiful stuff, intelligent stuff.
Old man sport
In Estonia BJJ is rather old man sport. We don’t have any 19 year old blackbelts here.
Knowledge management and developing your system
The list of techniques is overwhelming. It is impossible to remember everything and recognize everything during the roll.
If every class is new technique then I approach it like this: everything is worth studying in the class and I pay maximum attention on what is taught (shown, said etc). If I like the technique – I add it somewhere to my library. If I don’t like then I don’t worry too much.
I like what (Forever White Belt E45 or E46 – find ref.) said that to get graduated from whitebelt you need to be so good at something that even blackbelts respect you for that.
You need specific environment to do jiu-jitsu (BJJ GOONS) and you need someone to do it with. Someone to study it with. You can not get better alone. And this is annoying.
Blackbelts are very aware. That makes them great. Yet everybody can improve their situational awareness even during warmups by not front-rolling, running or shrimping into eachother. Keep distance, know where other people are.