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What it means to be a good blue belt

What it means to be a good blue belt



First and foremost, congratulations on earning the rank of blue belt.  It’s undoubtedly been quite the journey filled with its share of challenges to get to this point and you found a way to overcome them all and come out on top.  Now that you have achieved the rank of blue belt it’s time to quit… At least, this seems to be the general practice among our peers in the sport. Why is it that so many blue belts quit training at some point during their time as a blue belt?  

It is often said that a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu can handle themselves in the majority of “street fights” or other self defense situations with no problem.  Is it possible this goes to people’s heads and they stop training because they think they are “tough enough” now? This could be the case, but while I don’t doubt the data, I have to assume that more training is always better and continuing to train will make one even more equipped to handle a self defense situation.  Have you ever rolled with someone who took a few months (or years) off? Maybe someone that used to give you a hard time or even crush you? You notice their timing is off, right? Continuing to train will ensure your timing isn’t off when it matters most.

Learning to secure and control your opponent's back is a critical skill for ALL LEVELS of Jiu-Jitsu. Click Learn More!


Could it be the feeling of mastery?  I certainly hope not, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and a lot more refining of the fundamentals before we can call ourselves masters.  In my experience with Jiu Jitsu, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Quitting at blue belt thinking you know anything at all is just simply not true, there is still so much more to learn.

In order to address why people quit at blue belt, we need to first look at what makes a blue belt a good, or bad blue belt.  

A good blue belt is someone that ultimately contributes positively to the environment of the academy.  This could be someone who sticks around after class and helps clean the mats. It might be someone who works at the front desk before and or after class to greet people with a warm and friendly smile, welcome them to the academy, and answer any questions they have.  It might be someone who makes it a point to speak to every new person who walks in the door to try a class. Maybe it’s someone who consistently steps up to partner with the newer members of the academy. It might be someone who steps up and volunteers to help coach the kids classes when needed.  There is always something extra that can be done around the academy to make it better for everyone. If you’re unsure how to contribute ask your professor.

A good blue belt is someone who is consistently coming to class.  There is really not much more to say on this topic, you can not be good if you do not show up.  Show up to class on a regular basis. Know that you are missed when you skip class. People notice when you aren’t there.  You have likely put in a few years’ worth of work and attendance to earn your blue belt, you have become a staple at your academy, act like it by showing up regularly.

A good blue belt is a good training partner.  Smashing the new white belt that just started last week doesn’t make you a tough guy, it makes you a bully, and rest assured, someone in the academy will be sure to humble you as soon as you’re done being a bully.  Being a good training partner means adding value to your training partners training that day. You can add value by helping them with the technique, pushing the pace of the drilling to get a better cardio workout, or just being friendly and taking interest in them as a person.  It’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. Being a good training partner. Be someone people are excited to partner with.

A good blue belt is a student.  Someone who pays attention to detail and is constantly looking to refine and perfect his or her technique.  This means in class, paying attention to each detail and working to make it as perfect as possible, but also understanding the why behind each detail.  You will notice in Jiu Jitsu nothing we do is “just because”, everything has a purpose, a reason, a function. This also means reviewing instruction videos on your favorite techniques and understanding them on a level so deep that you are able to explain them, or teach them to someone else.  It is said that you don’t truly understand something unless you can teach it to someone who has zero knowledge on the topic. A good blue belt is a student that is constantly studying techniques, as well as his or her own training, possibly even documenting it in a Jiu Jitsu journal, and working to make improvements each day.

A good blue belt is someone that continues training and becomes a purple belt, and so on.  As a blue belt, you are looked up to by so many new students. Be a good role model, show them the way!  Partner with them during class and help them with the technique. There are so many things you bring to the table that can be helpful and valuable to these new students.  Don’t let all of that skill and time investment go to waste. The best return on your time investment is helping others. I find it interesting that you hear so many of the high level athletes talking about giving back to Jiu Jitsu.  It’s sometimes hard to see how you can give back to the sport when you aren’t on a big stage in the spotlight like some of these athletes are. The reality is while they may be able to reach a greater volume of people, you still have the ability to impact the life of the person sitting next to you on the mats.  

If you are considering quitting as a blue belt, you likely aren’t doing enough.  Chances are you do not see the value you are adding, or maybe you are just going through the motions when you are on the mats, or in the academy.  If you are considering quitting it is likely because you are missing in some or all of the areas mentioned above as what makes a “good blue belt”. The good news is, regardless of if you are still training, or have already quit, Jiu Jitsu is forgiving, you can step it up starting right now, you can get out there and start giving back and adding value in your academy.  If you have already quit, well, the good news is that it's much easier to start training the second time than it is to start the first time. Especially if you are coming back to the same academy you used to train at. Like I said earlier, you are missed, it’s time to come back and start putting in the work again.

Attacking the back can be one of the most advantageous strategies in all of Jiu-Jitsu. John Danaher's Enter The System: Back Attacks has exactly what you need to make those strategies work!



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