The original post was written for Jaque Mattos, our columnist. For the purpose of facilitate access for people from another countries, Patrícia Costa made an English version.
To give up… It would be awesome if this verb didn’t exist into our vocabulary, but there are many elements that make the athletes to dropout the mats at this point. Why? Before we can count what bring people to abandon their gi, let’s go back in time to when we were still a white belt, this is the point where everything starts.
When we begin to practice jiu jitsu we are like headless chickens, starting by the warm up (forward rolls, escape the hips, throws, and so on), and it gets worst as the sensei explains the technic (that in our head seems really easy). Conclusion: “I have no motor coordination at all!” However, this’s just the beginning because in a few time everything gets FANTASTIC! You work hard and start to knock down the white belts, win many tournaments and start to put some blue belts in trouble when rolling.
Then comes the graduation, it is time to get your blue belt! Yay! We get astonished when the belt is put around our waist for the first time, we get more confidence and then we start the real journey. Back to dojo you realize that the buddies aren’t going easy on you anymore, the rolls start to be tight, they start to crush your head, you start to feel responsible for the white belts learning and woe unto them if they try to pass your guard. It doesn’t seem so easy, but no one told you it would be. As they say, a life without challenges would be a dull life.
Now that you are already related with us let’s start to list the main points that makes the blue belt crisis to happen:
- Discouragement: it happens naturally, we desire something too much and then when we get it becomes a little dull really fast, seems not to be a big deal, and then we accommodate with the situation.
- The Chase Up: now that we aren’t beginners anymore come the chase ups. Our sensei starts to chase us up to not make any clumsy mistakes and we also start to ask ourselves if we really desire the belt.
- Injuries: they are our real enemies, their mill grinds slow, but sure. As time goes by we start to exchange the strength by technic, start to practice harder and then the pains start to come: knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles and every part else. All the injuries put us away of practices, make us feel painful, decreases our performance and make us feel inferior. I sometimes get to the point of asking me “Why I’m going to jiu jitsu? I always get injured and I don’t need this!”. But soon I realized it is just a phase.
- The distance until the purple belt: we know that there is at least one year of wait between white and blue belt (sometimes it is a little more), it depends on your attendance and progress. However, the purple belt does not come that fast and the wait brings some discouragement to the ones who seek for the next level.
- A true blue belt cannot get stuck by the white belts and need to give some trouble to the purple ones. We need to be good examples and for that we need to have a good body position, sharp technique, be a tough roll and show a big amount of respect with everyone and everything.
By putting everything together it becomes easy to understand the cause for all the blue belt dropouts. It is not easy to keep going and this level does separate the wheat from the chaff.
Our dear Sam, BJJ Girls Mag’s founder, is passing by a tough time in blue belt. She was recovering from a shoulder injury that got her off jiu jitsu for a while when she got a finger injury fighting the Curitiba Open, but she won’t give up! She is coming back slowly as soon as she can.
Tiago Rosa (purple belt) also gave us an inspiring testimony. He told us what happened to him when he was a blue belt: “I started to define my guard game and it made me to get mashed a lot, I was feeling down thinking my jiu jitsu was regressing”. Then the injuries came, but he didn’t stop and the pain started to be his loyal fellow. The reward came right after, with the purple belt!
May (Mayara Munhos), also member of BJJ Girls Mag and editor at ESPNW Brasil, gave us a motivating story. She told us that the blue belt was a dream of her, she always admired the blue belt girls. She was 13 at the time she started jiu jitsu and then she needed to stop fighting. When she came back she got the blue belt quickly and she made up for the pause by giving her best! Now she is about to get the purple belt and she thinks that the blue belt path was a great learning.
Everybody who practices jiu jitu knows that there is a hard and long way to go, but every cloud has a silver lining. The reward comes sooner or later to full us with proud. If you can see yourself through this text, here is my advice: do not give up, go on, the phase will go by and you will understand that everything makes the walk worth it. I once heard something that I will let here so you can reflect: “It is in the blue belt that is build a black belt!”