BJJBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Blue Belt Blues

Congratulations! You have just experienced your first belt promotion ceremony and achieved the rank of blue belt. The hard work and sweat you put forth on the mat over the past year or two years has paid off. You might be feeling like you’re on top of the world and you can’t wait for the next class so you can test drive your new belt. So what’s next for you on your jiu-jitsu journey? Quitting!
You might be asking “wait…what? You think I should quit?” Before you freak out, I’m not advocating quitting jiu-jitsu. However, have you ever noticed when you go to the academy that there are so many more blue belts on the mat than purple, brown, or black belts? That’s not an accident. It’s not that people achieve a higher rank and stop training because there’s nothing left to learn. On the contrary, those who attain higher belts are, in most cases trying to get on the mat as much as their bodies will allow them so they can try and perfect their game.
No, the reason you see fewer purple, brown, and black belts on the mat than blue is because so many people quit when they get their blue belt. I’ve been training jiu-jitsu at Team Renzo Gracie Denville for nearly 12 years. In that time, I’ve seen approximately 15 people get their black belt out of the hundreds I’ve had the privilege of training with over the years. About 1% of students that start at white belt will ever reach the level of black belt.
There are so many reasons, or excuses depending on your point of view why people quit at blue belt. Injuries, life, work, your wife, your kids, you’re getting married, you’re having kids, any number of lifestyle changes, the remote control, your favorite T.V. show, and the list goes on, and on, and on. Beware the traps and pitfalls along your jiu-jitsu journey. Don’t let skipping out on one class lead to two, three, and four times skipping.
Find your motivation. Remember that feeling when you’re leaving class. Most of the times it is a great feeling of exhaustion mixed with a sense of accomplishment. Even in the cases where you got dominated in class, it still leaves you with a drive to overcome that helpless feeling of being trapped in bad positions. If you’ve managed to exorcise your ego during your white belt days, you’re driven to learn and become better.
Two other reasons I have encountered is one, the time spent at blue belt is so long. Blue belt is probably the longest belt you’ll have ranging on average from two to four years. However, it’s also where you learn the most techniques and really hone the foundation of your jiu-jitsu. The second issue that’s common is born out of the frustration that when you first get to blue belt, you still struggle with white belts. This is really more for those that have yet to fully shed their ego, as if magically a two inch strip of blue fabricate will turn you into Gary Tonon overnight. The reality is, you know just as much the day after getting promoted as you did the day before. Refocus your energy into something more constructive. Like improving your game and helping your teammates get better.
One of the byproducts of being part of a good school is that you immediately increase your circle of friends. People from diverse backgrounds, get together behind the common thread of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. We share ideas about all manner of topics, including the joys and frustrations of jiu-jitsu. Don’t think for a second that the feelings you’re having at blue belt are unique. Before you make the drastic decision about quitting, speak to a professor or any of your teammates. Chances are, if they’re in the exclusive club of purple, brown, or black belts, they’ve encountered what you’re going through and can relate.
Don’t succumb to the Blue Belt Blues.
Good luck on your journey and happy rolling.