Overcoming the Blue Belt Stigma

People in general need to feel some sense of personal satisfaction when it comes to things they do in life.  In today's society having the ability to have everything at the drop of the hat makes it difficult for people to understand what it means to work towards something bigger than they are. This is ever so true when it comes to sports.  No one likes to sit on the sidelines or feel like they are not progressing.  It takes thousands of hours of practice for your body to develop the neural pathways required for our body to develop trained responses. Sweat equity is a very real term. 

When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu this can be quite the challenge.  Jiu-Jitsu is an investment in many ways.  Most Jiu-Jitsu gyms come at a pretty steep price.  From the cost of membership to the Gi and all the little things in between like mouth guards, ear protection and belt testing.  The lengthy amount of time you must invest to learn and progress can feel like you are moving at a snails pace.  There is the risk of physical injury but also the risk at times that you feel that you are not the best. 

As a blue belt, you have overcome many of these hurdles but you are still fairly new to the sport.  You have surpassed the white belt which is the stage where you feel like you are drinking from a fire hose when it comes to the amount of information being thrown your way.  You have also managed to survive not getting hurt and your instructors see your are grasping some of the concepts necessary to move up in your journey.  Blue belt is the longest belt in every BJJ school.  It is where you begin to actually start to retain some of the information your Professors and Coaches have been teaching.  You start to develop your game and have the ability to think ahead when you roll with your training partners. 

Blue belt is also when higher belts start to treat you as someone who can pose a threat to them.  Higher belts roll differently with you because you know more and have put the time in with them to get to know what they are doing.  You also have a target on your back for every white belt in the gym to want to show they can beat you.  It is without a doubt the toughest belt because you will spend what feels like an eternity at it even though it is usually only around two - four years.

Here in lies the problem.  The little victories you saw as a white belt disappear because, in fact, you are no longer a white belt.  This can be quite the blow to your ego because you begin to challenge yourself and your skill level. Why am I not doing as well?  Why did this move work so many times before and now I can't get it to work?  How did that white belt beat me?  Why am I getting crushed by this higher belt, they never did that before? 

Any blue belt can attest to the fact that blue belt can be the most frustrating belt on your journey to black belt.  But a black belt is just a white belt who never gave up, right?  When you feel stalled or that you are not learning is when a good percentage of blue belts throw in the towel and say I've learned enough.  Doubt sets in and you start to think of excuses as to why you are even doing this in the first place.  The costs, the time and the frustration get the better of you.  Many blue belts, once they receive their belt, never step foot back onto the mats and if they do it is short lived.

The mats are the biggest equalizer.  It doesn't matter how big you are, how strong you are or how much status you have in life.  The mats care about how much time you have invested and how much technique you have learned.  Applying this mentality and trusting in your Professors and Coaches is what will help you to progress whether it be your next stripe or your next belt. 

Think about how you would do if you rolled against yourself a month or even six months ago.  If the answer is "I would kick my own butt" then you are progressing just as you should be.  The journey to black belt is just that, a journey. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon and the rewards you get along the way are what make this brotherhood and sisterhood worth it. 

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