The White Belt Traps

BJJFlowCharts-The White Belt Traps

As a new player in the game, you will fall for specific traps!

I began my Jiu-Jitsu journey in 2011, and during my first couple of years, I felt for those traps, like everybody else.

Rejoice! There are ways to work around them!


Before diving into it, I want to stress the fact that white (and blue) belts fall for those traps because nobody warned them. It's not something you can guess by yourself when you start. You will learn to overcome them after a few years, but I figure it's better to tell you now so you won't lose time. As always, the goal behind this article is to improve faster!

Lack of Overview

The first trap is the lack of overview. Beginners fail to see the big picture and don't understand the primary goal of grappling. Always remember this simple principle. In a grappling match, you want to be on top, you want to pass the legs (they are dangerous), you want to stay there and finish with a submission.
That's it. Plain and simple.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're more a guard player, and you can finish people from your guard. So why shouldn't you play on the bottom and submit everybody? Well, that because Jiu-Jitsu is a SELF DEFENSE art before everything else. And being on the bottom, when strikes are involved, is a different beast!

It's another pitfall right there.
Being able to fight on your back doesn't mean you should be on your back!

Lack of Purpose

The lack of purpose is a big one, and even colored belts fall for it. You can see it in action every time you take a position, and then you ask yourself what you should do next. It's plaguing your game.

You need to study to have options in all the common scenarios so that you know what to do without thinking (you cannot think during a fight).

BJJFlowCharts-The White Belt Traps

Training with Higher Belts Only

You probably believe that if you train with better people all the time, you'll get better quicker. Well, yes and no. You will get better at defense (and surviving) for sure, but it's only half of the game. When was the last time you were in an offensive position against a colored belt? It doesn't happen that much!

You want to train with people with fewer skills than you, 50% of the time. And when you do, focus on your top game and your offenses. That's the only way you'll develop this part.

I've seen (and was one of them) tons on blue belts with a significant discrepancy between their defensive and offensive abilities. The reason is they spent a couple of years on their back, fighting the big dogs only!

Remember, if you want to have a well-balanced game, you have to crush the small dogs! Don't feel bad about it. It's part of the game. Plus, you're making them work on their defenses. It's a win-win!

Not Focusing on the Basics

Nowadays, it's simple to watch too many videos and to disperse your attention, where you should focus on fundamentals. Sure, exotic leglocks and crazy spins look good on YouTube, but it's most of the time complete bullshit and will never work in a real match.

It's more effective to focus on a single source at first, make sure to master it, and then move on to develop your game in the way that suits you. But never do so before having solid fundamentals. Otherwise, you'll pay the price later on, dearly!

"The depth of your progress in Jiu-Jitsu is entirely based upon the depth of your knowledge and the perfection of your expression of the fundamentals"
John Danaher


The Blue Print is a FlowChart (with videos embedded) I designed for white and blue belts. It's based on the Rickson Gracie curriculum (Rickson trained my head coach) and the John Danaher systems (which I study extensively via his DVDs). It maps all the fundamentals you need to know to be a solid blue belt, in a structured and logical way. You will see the game as a whole, and you will visualize your options in all the basic scenarios.

The reason I developed The Blue Print is to give practitioners a tool to learn solid fundamentals and overcome the pitfalls they face.
It's a tool I would have killed to have when I started.

BJJFlowCharts-The Blue Print

The Pyramid of Positions

Let's talk about the structure of the chart. The Blue Print is designed like a pyramid. You want to climb your way up to the top. The top of the chart represents the best position you can get to, Rear Mount. The bottom of the map represents the worse position you can be in; when your opponent has your back!
Follow the arrows and the instructions (and watch the videos) to improve your position and find a submission along the way.

Always remember. Jiu-Jitsu is a game based on probabilities. The better your position, the higher the chance that you'll win. Every time you make a move, this move must improve your chance to win.
Always climb the pyramid up. Never go down!

How to Train with the Blue Print (How to Drill)

The first thing you need is the right partner. Someone with the same level and mindset is mandatory. Select a theme for the next five training sessions. Let's say you choose the Rear Mount - Attack and Defense.

BJJFlowCharts-The White Belt Traps

During the first session, drill the techniques without resistance. You want to learn the mechanics of the moves.
The second session, start to add light resistance.
In the third session, pick up the pace and intensity.
During the fourth and sessions, do positional sparring. In this case, you start on your partner's back, and you try to submit him while he tries to escape. If you submit him or he escapes, you start again from his back, and you switch role every few minutes.


Be on top; Stay on top. Make sure to have explicit options for all the typical situations. Don't train with higher belts only. Focus on fundamentals!

The Blue Print is, I believe, an excellent tool to use in your first couple of years of Jiu-Jitsu, but then I realize I'm biased!


If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or if you just wanna chat, send me an email or a message on Instagram @maxigarami, and I'll be more than happy to talk with you and to hear your feedback.