Back To Black Belt, With Roy Dean
Being a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no easy feat and takes years of dedication. By the time you are able to tie that stiff brown belt around your waist, over and over because it always comes undone, you have put countless hours of training in, broken a few bones, bled a lot, sweat even more and perhaps even cried a few times. After all of that, how are you supposed to make even more progress?! The skill set between a brown belt and a black belt is not a huge one, the biggest difference is the execution. They are both aware of the same submissions and defensive tactics, but carry them through differently.
As a brown belt, however long you remain one, the key to closing in on that black is to keep refining and innovating. Be aware of the fundamentals, know them back and forth, but also pay attention to new introductions to the sport and to current trends. Keep in mind that these new innovative submissions or techniques can also be from you, someone has to discover the moves we all use- and most of them are brown belts! Roy Dean continues his amazing series with the last requirements instructional; follow his advice and aid your transition from brown to black or reassess your black belt lifestyle if you have already achieved the ultimate rank.
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There are a few different additions to your Jiu Jitsu lifestyle that should be adopted as you transition from a purple belt to a brown belt, and especially as you continue your journey on to black belt. In order to know which pathway to go down as a brown belt, you should self reflect and decide which BJJ brown belt personality you fit the most, then work towards those goals. There are three different categories to consider: The brown belt that simply does Jiu Jitsu as a hobby, the brown belt that is in the sport for the competition and career, and lastly the brown belt that wants to help others on their own Jiu Jitsu journey and become an instructor. We’ll take a look at each category, but regardless of your future desires your general journey towards black belt will be a similar internal process. If you are unsure where you fall as a brown belt, read through these examples and maybe that will help you decide! If you are reading this as a white-purple belt then maybe you can make your decision early, or play a game to try and categorize all of the brown belts at your gym. Here we go!
- Hobby Brown, It’s your prerogative:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with maintaining Jiu Jitsu as a hobby for your entire journey. As a matter of fact, this pathway is probably the most common. Hopefully by this point you have realized that just because you don’t have high goals of competition and your full time job isn’t on the mat, your contribution and importance to the school is immensely important. As a brown belt with black belt dreams, you are still able to help newcomers to the school or guide lower belts. Share your knowledge, avoid injury, and maintain your humility. Most likely jiu jitsu is your outlet, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning and actively searching for that black belt! Keep up the good work, stay focused..but still have fun.
- Competition Charlie (Brown):
If you are keen on competing as a career, there are a few different things to consider than someone just in it for fun. Your technique arsenal will be heavy on sports attacks and less on self defense so you are more able to do well in tournaments rather than a street fight. You are looking to grapple with other people that know Jiu Jitsu, not musclemen on the street that think they do. This path in particular needs to pay special attention to the Jiu Jitsu scene in the sense of new trends, how the sport is changing, competition rules etc. Be aware of the evolution but don’t necessarily adjust your entire approach just because things are falling in and out of style- stay true to your own game! Perhaps one of the downsides of being competitive is the injury rate, which is likely much higher than anyone else in the gym. Though you should be prepared to come across an injury occasionally, try to work on your ability to rein in your intensity during class so you avoid injuring those that aren’t on the same trajectory as you. Continue to improve and hone your skills, but don’t forget your basics and most importantly don’t forget your training partners that helped you get where you are.
- Professor Plum in the gym with a gi:
Some people are well aware of their desire to teach from the beginning of their Jiu Jitsu journey, some stumble upon it later on. No matter which one you are, you are a special breed! First, figure out if you are interested in opening your own school or if you simply want to be an instructor under someone else. Based on that answer you can determine whether you need to bulk up your business knowledge or only focus on your teaching methodology. Chances are you are already instructing a bit as a Brown belt, perhaps you even did some as a Purple; so you have the basics and fundamentals of how to instruct a class, how to captivate your audience, and break things down so they can be understood by newbies. Through your brown belt progression you should be paying attention to how others learn that differs from yourself, which will help you get your message across to the masses rather than only someone that is just like you. Practice your communication and your approachability, especially with kids! Even though you want to focus a lot on teaching in terms of how to teach, what to show, when to introduce new material, etc you will also want to continue to expand your own knowledge by taking classes yourself. Don’t be the instructor that stalls out once they reach a certain level just because you only teach fundamentals. Keep learning!
There’s no rule that you have to stick to one of these categories for the entirety of your Jiu Jitsu path. If you are a hobby horse, but a few years down the road start to become really interested in teaching then go for it.
Use these guidelines, as well as Roy Dean’s instruction to prepare yourself as best as possible for anything a Black Belt can throw at you!
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