Newbies And The White Belt Syndrome

Before we begin I think it’s important I point out that I am in no way belittling “white belts.” We all start at the beginning and I believe that anyone who steps onto the mats should be commended. Putting the belt around your waist is a sign that you’re ready to take steps toward lifestyle changes; starting here, on the mats.

The difference between one belt and another ( aside from the color, obviously) is your knowledge, the ability to access and utilize that knowledge, connecting and improvising AND dedication…commitment. Notice there’s no mention of competing here because not everyone competes, and that’s a completely different conversation.

We all like to feel useful and knowledgable; as if we contribute something each day we’re on the mats. However, I’ve heard a lot about “whites belts this and white belts that” as far as overstepping boundaries within the ranks of schools. As higher belts, who were ALL white belts at some time, I think it’s important to remember that we lead by example.

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we, as higher belts, address our newest team members in their early days that will make a difference.
Don’t call a person out in from of everyone. That’s just not cool! As a matter of fact, it’s humiliating, condescending and can turn a white belt into a “not-belt.” I’m just saying let’s not be too hard on the up and comers who will be joining the ranks; who put in the time; who want to be a part of something bigger, namely Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Support the newbies and have your team grow exponentially; in talent, size, community and strength.

Another thing I’ve read and heard about is the “know-it-all.” I think we could say there are people like this at any belt level, hmmmmmm? But the point is, a white belt should probably not be telling another white belt how to do something- unless they’ve been given explicit permission from the Professor. Yes you train, yes you love that move, no you’re not an expert. I think this can be said for any belt level. As a blue belt I’m not going to tell some Brown belt what to do!! Or anyone else, because my focus should be on making sure my technique is correct. Giving feedback during drilling is helpful, telling someone they’re doing it wrong when you aren’t really certain yourself??? No honey, just no.

So why did I call this white belt syndrome? Because newbies don’t know and just are so excited and want to be helpful! There’s nothing wrong with being proactive or wanting to help your teammate. We’re all on the mats to learn Braziliam jiu jitsu. The newbies breathe life into what has become routine, regardless of how much you love the sport. Everything is new & shiny and their excitement is contagious. They’re in awe of higher belts and aspire to be “there one day.”

Spazzy becomes calm, uncertain becomes confident, and we all gain from supporting each person training.

Happy rolling!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here