If you want to get the most out of your time on the mats, then you’re going to need to take charge of your training at some point in your BJJ career. As a white belt, you will find that simply coming to class gives you plenty to get on with. The fundamentals—escapes, reversals, and basic positions – are things that you can handle for yourself. But, as you get more experienced you will find that the structure that a lot of BJJ schools use just doesn’t work for steady progress.
Some BJJ schools have a curriculum that they follow, but many just use a “technique of the day” structure. So, you might learn takedowns one day then escapes from the back the next. You might learn how to choke someone from the mount, but not cover how to get the mount until half a dozen lessons later. You might touch on single leg x guard once or twice a year because your instructor rarely plays it, and that would be unfortunate if it turned out to be a game that you’re good at.
That’s why going to open mats and drilling things in your own time is so valuable, and that’s why bjj instructional videos can be useful. Most of the major competitors have started their own websites full of instructional videos, and they structure those websites so you can search by gi or no-gi, position, type of move, etc. This means that you can delve into the deepest details of areas of grappling that interest you and get instructions that you can pause and rewind—and often view from multiple angles too.
Now, videos are no substitute for hands-on instruction, and it’s probably not worth spending too much time exploring YouTube as a complete beginner, because there is a lot of misinformation out there and it’s all too easy to end up wasting your time watching videos that were recorded by people who aren’t really BJJ black belts or watching videos that explain the techniques poorly. As a beginner, focus on the fundamentals, and get help from your coaches and team mates. As you gain experience, then you can start looking at expanding your game.
Pick one or two techniques from your favorite instruction site and study them closely. Drill them at open mat for a couple of weeks then start to work them into your game. Use them on less experienced people, then gradually start using them on more experienced people until you are able to employ them to people that are your own size, weight, and belt, or maybe even get them to work on bigger people. Once you’ve got those techniques in your “A game” add new techniques until you have something that you can do effectively from each position. What works for you won’t always be the same as what works for other people even if they have similar body types, and you might even find that your A-Game changes a lot over the years as you gain experience.