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Post-Promotion Blues

Post-Promotion Blues


We’ve all seen it.  Or, actually, we stop seeing it.  A teammate gets a new belt wrapped around their waist and promptly disappears. 

At the blue belt level, it’s called the “Blue Belt Blues,” and it’s the source of a million memes on Facebook.

But it doesn’t just happen to blue belts.  It can happen after any belt promotion: from blue all the way up to black.  We just notice it more with blue belts because fewer people actually get promoted to purple, brown, or black belts.

If I owned a Jiu Jitsu academy, I’d almost be terrified to promote my students, because, by promoting them, I’m running the risk of losing them.

 Pave Your Path With The Correct Mindset, and Attitude! Click Learn More below. 


But you can’t just ignore your students’ progress; you have to promote them.

So, why is it that belt promotions mean the end of so many Jiu Jitsu journeys?  I don’t believe there’s just one answer. Different people bow out for different reasons.  Some of them can possibly be prevented, but others can’t.

The first reason that students quit after a belt promotion is the most basic: that particular belt was their goal and they reached it.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with this. And there’s not really anything that anyone can do about this. You just have to tip your hat to the student who set a specific goal, reached it, and moved on.  

For those of us who are eyeing a black belt or who may even be hoping to teach the gentle art at some point in the future, these students may look like dropouts.  But they aren’t. They simply have different goals than we do. Or they may have different obstacles in their lives that we don’t know about. Or they may have other stuff on their bucket list, and they’re moving on to the next item on the list.

Of course, it would be hard for those students to actually tell their coach and teammates that their plan is to quit after the next belt ceremony.  So, they don’t tell anyone. Instead, they ghost.

Ghosting always leaves a lot of questions, but rather than facing a disappointed coach and teammates, some people choose ghosting as the best option.

Maybe we can be upset about the way they slip out the door without a word, but we have to respect the fact that they set a goal and reached it.

The second reason that students quit after a belt promotion is because they realize just how long the journey actually is.  Belt promotions are like signposts on a road trip. (I’m talking about back when I was a kid; way, way before GPS and smartphones).  Sometimes, when we were in the middle of nowhere, we would be desperate for a sign to tell us where we were.

The problem is that when we finally saw that sign, it told us that we were a lot farther from our goal than we thought we were.  Sometimes, it felt like we weren’t moving at all.

A belt promotion—especially to blue or purple—can feel exactly the same way.  We’re feeling desperate to get that validation. But, at the same time, when we get it, we realize just how far we still have to go.  Some people decide, at this point, that it’s not a journey that they want to continue.

The final reason that students quit is because they expect their promotion to change the world.  Sometimes, when we embark on a personal goal and pass a milestone, we expect the entire world to take notice.  But it doesn’t.

As a writer, I remember the elation I felt when I was notified about my first publication.  For about half an hour, I was on top of the world. I felt like it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life and that nothing would be the same for me after that.

Then, I had to go to the grocery store.  And guess what? No one treated me any different.  They didn’t know, and they didn’t care. The world did not stop spinning because of my accomplishment, no matter how monumental that accomplishment felt to me.

Professor DeBlass Is Here To Help Get Your Mind Right! Click Learn More below!


Belt promotions can feel the same way.  In the dojo, it’s earth-shaking. At work, around the water cooler, no one even knows what you’re talking about.  Your co-workers are more interested in talking about that series that everyone has been binge-watching on HBO, and your boss just wants that report you’ve been working on.

While we can’t do anything about people who quit because they’ve reached their goal, we can do something about people who leave Jiu Jitsu because they become discouraged or feel a lack of gratification.

In both cases, the solution is attitude.  Plenty of people finish school, get their diploma, and never bother to learn another thing for the rest of their lives.  They don’t realize that it’s the knowledge that’s important, not the diploma. If we approach Jiu Jitsu with this incorrect mindset, that colored belt will just end up collecting dust next to your diploma.

There is significant research that shows that people who don’t challenge their minds are at more risk of losing them to dementia.  Having a diploma or purple belt on the wall won’t fight off dementia, but continuing to learn and continuing on the journey might.

Also, we need to learn to do things for our own validation, not for other people’s approval.  In the world of social media, we’ve gotten into the unhealthy habit of seeking validation from others.  If they don’t give their approval, we start to question if our interest is worthwhile.

That’s a terrible way to live.  We need to learn not to constantly seek others’ approval.  Instead, we need to let our freak flags fly. If we love Jiu Jitsu, then we have to own it—no matter that our co-workers couldn’t care less.  We’re doing this for ourselves—and that’s justification enough.

More and more attention is being centered on attitude and the role it plays in the Jiu Jitsu journey.  Tom DeBlass’s The Road to Black Belt and Beyond is all about the attitude adjustments that can lead to more success and happiness both on and off the mats.  Hopefully, this focus will help stop those post-promotion blues.


Professor Tom DeBlass is here to share his wisdom and to set you forth with the information to improve you BJJ, and your life. His DVD "The Road To Black Belt and Beyond" can help with  injuries, competing, relationships, and MUCH MORE. Check it out here!



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