Are Belt Stripes Just Meaningless Pieces of Tape?
Everyone who trains BJJ is aware of the belt system that the majority of jiu jitsu schools ascribe to. Borrowed years ago from judo, the journey to black belt has relatively few stops if you just see it as four belts, blue, purple, brown and black. Though it is only four belts, the length of time at each belt level can be quite time intensive. The commonly accepted average to go from white to black is usually said to be around 10 years. Some people have received their black belts faster, while others have taken longer due to many reasons. The road to black can be as unique as the number of practitioners on the mats today.
Most BJJ schools break up the time frame between belt promotions by promoting students to four different stripe levels before taking them to that next belt. The stripe promotions are often awarded based on a number of factors such as class attendance, technique mastery or perhaps competition performance. The actual awarding of the stripe is ultimately at the discretion of the instructor and there is no hard and fast rule for how stripes can be awarded. Does this make the stripe invaluable? Should they not be awarded?
Stripes break up the journey
The length of time spent between belts can sometimes range from 1-3 or even more years. This is a long time and sometimes during the process of learning jiu jitsu, one can begin to lose motivation. The stripe is a tool for your instructor to remind their students that they are making progress and that they are moving in the right direction. It's amazing what a small piece of tape tied around the belt fabric can mean after many months of training.
Blue flu is something that stripes can help alleviate. Throughout the course of your training, you may seen training partners and peers come and go over time. Hopefully, none of them fall prey to the deadly disease known as "blue flu" which plagues students who achieve their first big belt promotion to blue belt only to quit BJJ not long after. To learn more about this plague on the mats and better be able to deal with it, when you see someone coming down with it, check out this article at BJJ Fanatics on the topic!
Stripes can tell stories
Stripes can also tell your coaches, instructors and even other students information. Someone with no stripes is usually a relatively new person to that belt, while a person with 4 stripes has most likely spent a good amount of time at that belt. Expectations about performance and experience can be revealed with the stripes.
If you're a veteran looking to polish up on your fundamentals, or someone just putting on the gi for the first time, UFC veteran and BJJ wizard, Travis Lutter has something to share with you in his 4 DVD instructional, "The Road to Blue Belt." You can check it out on sale today here at BJJ Fanatics!