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9 Years As a Blue Belt
It Doesn't Matter How Slow You Go,
On October 23rd, 2010, I entered my first competition as a white belt. After winning my first match, I felt like I was on the top of the world. But then I lost my next two. To say I was crushed was an understatement. The following Saturday, I received my blue belt. Feeling like I was back on top, I continued to train, eventually building up the courage to enter the cage. I was proud to be a blue belt, since my academy didn’t have many members that were much higher ranked.
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When fight night came, I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t even nervous. I wanted to be in there. Halfway through the second round, after a failed single leg, I tapped from a guillotine choke. Again… crushed. But this time, there wasn’t a promotion anywhere in my sights and the lack of support from those close to me made me want to quit. I tried to stick with it for a couple more months, but I was uninspired by my jiu-jitsu and felt like I was going nowhere. So I quit, using the excuse that I was going back to school and that I wouldn’t have time to train. Anything that made me believe I didn’t want to train any longer.
As Long As You Don't Stop--Confucius
After taking 5 years off the mats, I had just finished school, I had been eating whatever I wanted, and I went out drinking with friends every weekend. At my first job out of school, I reconnected with one of my old training partners. He had been training the academy of another former teammate of ours for almost three years now. After thinking a little bit about starting back up, I finally made the decision to check his place out. I was completely out of shape, but I was ready to start back up.
After a few days of training, I started to see many old teammates there and it made me realize that not only was I out of shape, but I was also way behind. Just about everyone I knew was either at the high end of their purple belt or even into brown. I knew I had some catching up to do but I eased into it as I thought I should, and I kept showing up.
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For the first year, I stayed diligent on eating healthy and making it to the gym at least three days a week. Adding in an extra day when I could. Another year later, I competed twice. I took gold in one tournament, and dead last in the other. This time, losing didn’t make me feel crushed. I began training for a third competition but suffered a fractured elbow, which required surgery, so I pulled out of this one. I was still on the mats the day after the fracture, as well as the weekend after my surgery. The difference between this time of failure and hardship and the last big ones that I experienced, was that this time I had an amazing team behind me. This time on the mats, I committed myself. I built strong relationships with not only my teammates, but my instructor as well. When your team doesn’t want to see you quit, you won’t want to either.
It’s been two and a half years since I started training again. A couple nights ago I received my final stripe on my blue belt. Right then I was informed I am able to receive my purple belt in the spring. I couldn’t express to you the level of joy that I felt when I heard this. I’m still grinning ear to ear. When the time comes, it will have been 9 years of being a blue belt.
When you commit yourself to something, it goes a long way. When you really get to know the people you roll with, you will have a much better experience. You will be much more proud of the accomplishments and promotions given to you, whether it’s a stripe or a belt. So stay committed. Make that little extra effort, and you will notice a much larger variety of self-gratification.
The Road to Blue Belt series from Travis Lutter is just the resource to get you through those difficult white belt months. Or if you're a higher belt who wants to shore up some of the basics. You can get the series here at BJJ Fanatics!