The Zero Stripe White Belt Restriction Defence

The Zero Stripe White Belt Restriction Defence 2min read

I recently started learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), with Coach John Smallios at his School Higher Jiu Jitsu in Woolloomooloo.

Before each class, I tie on my zero stripe white belt.

Coach John recently initiated some new rules for white belts to help us navigate the open mat roll after class. As a white belt with zero stripes, I am encouraged to go over any lessons with my partner during open mats, but should avoid rolling competitively. Once I have one stripe I can start to practice technique with a little resistance from my partner. At two stripes and above I am encourage to play Jiu Jitsu openly, in a safe way, while respecting my partner and learning together rather than beating each other up.

This blog post is in defence of these rules.

These rules aren't designed to limit your practice, but nurture your growth in this martial art. I trust they'll create a much safer, more sustainable Higher Jiu Jitsu. - Coach John Smallios

BJJ has a competitive sport aspect, but its foundations are in self-defence on the streets of Brazil. It makes sense, as a white belt BJJ practitioner, that I should build a foundation in the self-defence aspects of BJJ and bolt on the competitive BJJ later.

Practicing what I learnt in class reinforces the good technique taught. Laying a foundation that does not need to be unlearnt when I eventually find I can no longer power my way through a move.

Often in life you win, by not losing and BJJ is no different. Buy building a base of self defence -- i.e. defence first -- you are training to limit your opponents attack opportunities, to survive longer, and to be patient while looking for them to make a mistake.

When rolling competitively, you face people that know BJJ and will react/counter in a BJJ way. However, the bad guy on the street is not going to react in a BJJ way.

When put into a stress situation you rely on habits and learned behaviours as your brain switches from cognitive to primitive survival. Practicing the foundations first will develop habits and reflexes that will help you survive, control and submit when forced into a confrontation on the street.

You fight the way you train - Jmil Ispahany

Let me be honest, as a white belt with zero stripes I have no idea what I am doing. When put into a position that I do not know/understand while rolling I am likely to be spaze out. Which could hurt my partner, myself out both of us. Because I do not know if I am in danger, what good feels like, or what I should do.

Through practicing and repetition of movement, we reinforces what good feels like, avoid injury and reduce time off the mats. It can be psychologically difficult to come back from injury. Because we start to feel anxious before class, which makes us avoid class. Because we want to avoid getting injured.

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