Blue Beltitis

I’ve noticed a trend among numerous blue belts. Some call it, “blue beltitis”.

It goes a little like this: the blue belt shows up to class excited to train. The instructor says that today the class with be about escaping from side control or a basic scissors sweep from the guard.

The blue belt’s shoulders disappointment. The bright light of enthusiasm in the eyes is lost.

“Oh” he says dismissively. “I’ve seen that before.”

Implicit in this statement is that if they are already familiar with the technique, it is a waste of time to take another look at it.

Now hold on a minute!

I understand the blue belt’s enthusiasm to be training more advanced sports positions. I am fond of calling the blue belt the “belt of experimentation”. Blue beltsĀ should be trying all kinds of different techniques. They have been around the mats a few years and very likely have a few positions that are really dangerous.

But this blue beltitis mindset comes with two problems:

1) It leads to a “move collector” mentality.

This mentality leads to the reputation that some jiu-jitsu students get as “move collectors”. Move collector are always in searching for a secret technique that will surprise their rolling partners and get the tap.

This does work many times, but the success is short-lived once the opponent has been caught unaware the first time and refuses to be caught a second time.

The basic techniques, on the other hand, are tried and tested over decades in 1000’s of academies. Your proficiency in jiu-jitsu comes from mastery of the fundamentals, not from a continuous succession of new moves.

2) There is enormous depth to the basics.

I have been around jiu-jitsu for more than 20 years and still learn “new” details about the basic techniques!

I recall Rickson Gracie sharing a story about him showing Master Helio Gracie some new methods of how he performed some very basic techniques more efficiently. Through thorough study of a hip escape or bridge escape he had found a more efficient way to perform the movement.

Heck, if Rickson Gracie were showing how to tie your belt, I’d pay careful attention!

The truth is that there are multiple layers of complexity to those basic techniques that we all use every time that we roll. You will find that the way you understand and use the basic techniques will naturally evolve as you accrue mat experience.

Don’t close your mind to taking a fresh look at an old technique!


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