When You Get Your Blue Belt

One of my gym buddies took up jiu-jitsu later in his athletic career and recently got promoted to blue belt. We chatted a bit about the new belt.

I don’t agree with the naysayers and kill joys who say “Belts don’t matter. Just train!” I think it is a BJJ form of virtue signaling where the “white belt 4 ever” wants to demonstrate the Shaolin monk like purity of their desire to “just train bro!”

There is nothing wrong with having a goal, working towards it and enjoying the recognition of that achievement. Graduating to blue belt in a tough school remains the belt promotion that I enjoyed the most — even more than black belt.

The road is long and hard and we need to derive motivation along the way. A blue belt is proof that you’ve stuck it out past the nine out of ten students who quit along the way. You definitely have some mat credibility and likely have a few dangerous moves that even much more experienced belts need to pay attention to.

You can look back with a grin on your earliest classes when shrimping down the mat during a warm-up required every iota of your concentration and the intricacies of the Kimura grip baffled you.

Nearly every BJJ student who ties on a new colored belt (or even a new stripe!) feels the momentary doubt of what psychologists term “the Impostor Syndrome”; there has been some mistake and through some misunderstanding you were mistakenly awarded a blue belt. The BJJ police will be along shortly to take back the belt and restore things.

I’ve had private conversations with really skilled and dedicated martial artists who whispered, “I don’t think I deserve this belt.”

Relax amigo, your belt fits just fine. It’s all in your head.

Another thing that is not all in your mind is the increased pressure that you experience in the academy. The striped up white belts are looking at that fresh new blue belt and some of them are licking their chops and wondering, “If I can tap him, does that mean that I’m ready for my blue belt?”

You may notice that some training partners are coming at you with a sharper intensity.

That is all part of it. You wouldn’t be wearing the blue belt unless your instructor felt that you could defend it.

Lastly is a new responsibility to start passing jiu-jitsu along to the new students to join the academy. Think of how many blue belts helped you out when you first started. Now its your turn to give the next crop a little of the benefit of your experience.


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