You Never Forget Your First Stripe
I remember my first night on the mat and I can recall my first training partner that evening. The vibe of the entire session is still very clear in my mind, and in those very first moments of training, I felt what Jiu-Jitsu was capable of. I was instantly hooked. At the end of the class, I drove to an ATM and withdrew enough money for a gi and some other “starter" items. From that day forward, my class tuition was my first priority every month. I was working on and off and at the time and I did not have much money, but BJJ became a priority that took precedence over many other things. I needed it in my life and I did everything I could to make sure that it remained a part of my routine.
My enthusiasm grew every day. I woke up each morning excited about BJJ, and with a hunger to learn like I had never experienced in my life. I definitely treated BJJ like a sprint instead of a marathon those first few months, which I believe is common. I attended classes as much as possible, often times training in the morning and then returning at night. I saw others get promoted and remember feeling genuine happiness for them, because I knew we were in the same boat and shared a common goal. How good it must have felt to receive that stripe and know that your hard work had been noticed and rewarded.
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I remember receiving my first stripe. It was the first tangible marker of my BJJ progress. I couldn’t believe the feeling of accomplishment that welled up in me. Even though the promotion came after a few months of training, the feeling was as if I’d been working on something for years and had finally attained it. The truth was, I had. I found BJJ at just the right time. A time where I was ready to be committed to something that would change the course of my life, and that first stripe was a signal that I had found the perfect method of doing so.
No matter how you gage your progress, whether it be stripes, goals, or simply praise from your instructor or teammates, enjoy these moments, and use them to put more gas in your tank. BJJ is most definitely a marathon. Progress is made over long periods of time and its gradual. Jiu-Jitsu has to get to know you before it will count you worthy.
So, to all of the beginners out there, relish that first stripe, or initial marker of your progress and let it be a reminder of your hard work, commitment, and dedication to this new and exciting craft. Jiu-Jitsu loses so many people from white to blue. Don’t be part of this statistic, stay the course and prove to BJJ that you are worth its time!
What did it feel like to receive your first stripe?
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