I have been training and teaching BJJ for a long time and I pretty much always get the same questions from people new to the art. Two of the most often asked is “what is the first think I should learn?” and “What is my goal?” (This second question is in terms of sparring with an opponent)
It is easy for people with experience to sometimes forget that we need to go right back to basic concepts when teaching others. One of the worst things an instructor can do is assume a knowledge base for someone and start teaching from a higher level than where the person actually is. The effect of this is that techniques taught to the student will be meaningless because there is no conceptual awareness of where these techniques should be applied.
These two questions indicate that the student requires guidance in understanding the conceptual framework of grappling before they begin to learn techniques and should be the first thing taught to beginner students. So in answer to the first question “what is the first think I should learn?” it’s obvious now that it is to gain an understanding of the conceptual framework of BJJ. Once this is accomplished the answer to the second question becomes much easier to understand.
To answer the second question; it is simply about taking away an opponent’s options for attack or defence until they have no options remaining and are defeated by a submission such as a choke or armbar. How to do this however is where technical training and experience come into play.
So remember, if you are new to BJJ or MMA don’t be afraid to ask your instructor questions about where to start or what you should be focussing on. It’s an important question and the base for your future learning.