Mikey Musumeci is known for his modern jiu-jitsu — berimbolos, reverse de la riva, and all kinds of advanced guards are his specialty. But that doesn’t mean Musumeci was never a white belt, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a solid foundation. In a recent video with Bernardo Faria, Musumeci shares his tips for surviving the white belt years.
The key to learning jiu-jitsu as a white belt, says Musumeci, is building a strong foundation. Rather than learning advanced or “modern” guards, white belts should focus their efforts on learning basic, simple positions and concepts.
“If we just start on the top floor, the building will collapse. That’s what you have to think about when you learn jiu-jitsu,” Musumeci said.
By simply learning how to move or learning concepts in common positions, white belts will have a foundation to learn more complicated modern jiu-jitsu. What we typically refer to as “fundamentals” are difficult to master, according to Musumeci.
“The fundamentals are actually the hardest things to learn.”
Musumeci also recognizes that jiu-jitsu is difficult and confusing for most white belts. That’s okay, he says. White belts aren’t only learning fundamentals and basic concepts, they’re learning how to move in a grappling context. The more you grapple, the easier those movements become.
“Focus on learning body movement and don’t get discouraged if it’s not natural for you,” he said.
Musumeci is one of the most accomplished American black belt competitors ever, and with his growing library of instructionals, he is one of the world’s most sought-after instructors.