Are You Rushing to Get Your Next Belt?

By Alec Baulding

There is a great quote that states, ”If the belt is the goal, you will quit once you receive it. If knowledge is the goal, you will never stop.” It’s important that you understand your reasons for training because you might be setting yourself up for a lot of hardship. If the belt is your only goal in training Jiu Jitsu, you are going to learn the hard way that it is only a piece of fabric that holds your gi together. It does not give you magical powers that allow you to beat any opponent and it won’t change your abilities. Of course, it’s cool to have some color on your belt. The lower belt students will start to look to you for guidance and your opinion and experience will carry more weight. There is also more responsibility that is placed upon you as well. When a new student tries out the class but the instructor is busy teaching, guess who will have to teach the fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu while also explaining why we roll on the ground to the new guy? You will. Instructor running late so who will lead the warm up now? You will. You’re at the local tournament and a student needs a coach. You are the coach now. Jiu Jitsu is so much more than just about belts and winning. You can use it to develop yourself into a better person, forming great habits like discipline, perseverance, humility, confidence, and a whole host of other great attributes.

So many students start Jiu Jitsu seeking to earn a belt only to find out that it is not easy and quit because they see it as the end goal. “I want to get my black belt!” However, the training does not stop once you get the new belt. A long time ago a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be the equivalent to a black belt in most other martial arts because it was an achievement. To get a belt in Jiu Jitsu is to fail over and over again, get tapped out, and then when you are at your lowest point, you have to pick yourself up and try again. Achieving a belt in Jiu Jitsu is all about persevering, getting your butt kicked and going back for more. This is the attitude that instructors want to see in every student that walks into their academy. A student could have all the talent in the world and still not receive the next belt because it’s not only about how much skill or talent you have, it’s also about your character. Are you a hard worker? Do you listen and try the techniques your instructor shows you? Do you help others? Are you a good person off of the mats? There are so many things that go into being promoted to the next level. So, instead of saying that you want to get your blue belt or whatever belt, change your thoughts to I want to roll like a blue belt. The development of skill should always be the goal for everyone in Jiu Jitsu. It doesn’t matter what belt hangs around your waste if you don’t have the skill to back it up. This is where the idea of sand bagging comes from; when you train with someone and their skill far out matches their belt color. At this point all of your training partners will be complaining to the instructor to promote the person in question. It’s far better to have everyone ready to push you out of a belt and onto the next belt level than to spend time worrying about being promoted. Let your Jiu Jitsu skill do the talking for you and the belt will come when it comes.