The “blue belt retirement” or what many fondly call the blue belt blues is a strangely common phenomena in jiu-jitsu.
Why would someone train so hard to achieve the coveted blue belt and then disappear from the academy?
A few reasons actually.
Feeling a mental let down after pursuing a goal that one pursued for a long time is not uncommon. It happens in many areas of human endeavor. How do you feel after returning home from a long trip? Strangely empty and vacant.
Add to that the perception of increased pressure to perform at a higher belt standard and the accumulation of training injuries, and that short break can turn into abandoning BJJ altogether.
Here are a few tips to beat your own blue belt blues.
Set a new goal.
As humans, we are goal seeking machines. That is why having the goal of the next stripe or belt is such a powerful motivation. When we have achieved a goal, it is time to recalibrate and set a new goal.
You might focus on preparing for your first tournament as a blue belt. You might look to add a new position to your game that you had experimented with in your previous training.
Purple belt might seem very far off, but how about resetting your internal GPS for that new goal?
Simply put: if you don’t have any goals, create some!
I am fond of calling the blue bet the belt of experimentation.
You have enough mat time under your belt (pun intended) to productively explore some of the more advanced positions. Now is the time for you to dive into a new guard style like De la Riva or deep half guard. Exchange techniques with the higher belts in your academy. Ask your head instructor for some new ideas for your personal game. Can he suggest a position that might be a great fit and that you had never considered?
By making an agreement with yourself to experiment, you remove some mental pressure to win every roll and stay with only your best positions. Now is the time to set those aside and experiment with some new positions. This can inject a lot of enthusiasm to your training!
Get obsessed with a position.
Advanced belts should be looking to delve deeper into some positions. As a white belt, you are mostly acquiring a vocabulary of basic moves to fill out your basic BJJ game, concentrating on learning and drilling the correct mechanics for those basics.
Now, look at directing your own training. Pick a position – deep half guard, for instance – that you want to explore and stick with that for one month or more. Use the training method of positional sparring to start your matches in deep half guard and immerse yourself in the position.
Make a ton of mistakes and learn what does NOT work. Learn what feels natural. Try it against different sizes and experience levels. You will gain valuable experience in that position and open new possibilities for your jiu-jitsu.
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