Jiujitsu: Stripes, Belts, Gi (nogi)… what does it all mean?!

It’s 2015, time to wipe off the 2014 slumps doldrums or whatever and GET IT! And if you were amazing in 2014, that’s awesome, but 2014 is gone. Time to work harder, train smarter, regain focus and set your sights higher. Even if there isn’t push as though there’s a target on your back. It’s been said before, and it will be said again, everyone’s jiu-jitsu journey is unique. Whatever your purpose or goal may be you’re here on the mats, toiling, grinding, sweating away. That. is. awesome. Sooo let’s take a minute to say what the heck does all of this mean?! I mean, krimminy! Nogi, gi, stripe system, belts, self-defense, flow roll, drilling, comp team… etc etc etc. In the end, all you really need to worry about is the time you put in. There’s no magic formula, no potion or key that will unlock the jiu-jitsu tomb of secrets… other than time, consistency, and dedication.

It’s 2015. Yep! We rang in the New Year, made those resolutions; I prefer to say we’ve set goals, and well, here we are. Different day, different year, but the magic hasn’t happened?! Well friends have patience. Patience is a virtue and setting goals is the first step in reaching various achievements during your jiu-jitsu journey. The “magic” happens each time you step on the mats, each time you make an honest effort toward reaching the ultimate goal, whatever that may be for you. But you must be patient, diligent, and honest with yourself if you’re going to truly climb the rungs on the ladder of personal success. First and foremost you’re here because you wanted to challenge yourself. You got up, said “let’s do this!” and did it. So let’s talk about these things we see and hear being discussed, sometimes with derision or frustration, excitement or fear.
Oh the stripe system. In schools where this is utilized it can be both a blessing and a curse. Everyone talks about their stripes, everyone (secretly) is watching the progress of everyone else. Stripes can be a great motivational tool. They allow you to track your progress, you feel a sense of accomplishment when you receive one, and the system itself breaks up the curriculum length and learning process. There are detriments to using stripes, people can harbor resentment if they feel they’re not “striping up” quickly enough… but, as a good friend of mine said “it’s effin eletrical tape!” Stripes are not a be all end all. Please do not beat yourself up over a stripe. If you started at the same time as a peer and they have more or less stripes, it isn’t necessarily a measure of your jiu-jitsu worth or knowledge! Everyone’s lives and commitments are different.

I cannot count how many times I’ve heard “nogi sucks, nogi isn’t jiu-jitsu, nogi is for athletic people, nogi? how do you even know what level you are, I’ve never trained nogi I’m not competing in it… yadda yadda.” Don’t fear nogi. I still haven’t quite figured out what the hoopla is all about! I happen to love nogi, and while whether to train both is personal preference, there’s something to be said about a little cross training. Nogi affords you the opportunity to refine your movement… I’ve found my gi game to improve significantly since getting back into nogi. Plus, I like having the extra mat time. Nogi is closer to wrestling in movement and style. It can definitely be explosive. However, without the advantage of the gi you really need to focus on technicality, honest! Nogi is also great for increasing cardio intensity. Another thing I’ve found is that learning to control a nogi opponent takes some skill. It’s not easy breaking posture on a slippery opponent. So I truly appreciate nogi, and find it a lot of fun. I think that the two compliment each other.

I don’t have anything to say about belts other than this; if a belt is your main goal or focus, your purpose for training, then you may find reaching that goal somewhat anti-climatic and disheartening. I say this only because there is so much more growth and learning to come from having an open mindset. If you focus on getting a belt, what happens once you’ve earned it? You’re mind kind of shuts down, and all of a sudden you fins yourself lost at sea. Don’t buy into the belt hype. It’s an honor to be recognized for your hard work and dedication, this is true. Create goals that will take you beyond the receipt of a belt. You and your jiu jitsu will be much better off.

In the end, what does it all mean? anything along this route has the meaning you give it. If you feel that a blue belt is the be all end all for you, as a white belt, then your vision will be limited. Don’t hold yourself back.



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