Stages Every Blue Belt Goes Through
In a previous blog awhile back, we talk about the stages that every white belt goes through. But what happens when those white belts finally make their transition to the coveted blue belt?
The blue belt is significant for a few reasons: it is the first colored belt on the journey to black; it feels like FOREVER to get there; and it signifies that you actually are making progress in BJJ when it feels like you’ll never be as good as many of the higher belts that you roll with. Some survive and persevere to purple, while many, many others fall through the cracks and quit. In fact, blue belt is where most people disappear — after all, they don’t call it the blue belt blues for nothing…
Stage I – After receiving the blue belt, many mentally (and physically) set themselves apart from their white belt counterparts with whom they used to gravitate towards when most higher belts wouldn’t give them the time of day in larger academies. The have built some “street cred” now that they are not a white belt anymore and have placed themselves in the hierarchy (and food chain) of the belt system. This is where ego starts to build. They start “coaching” white belts or even higher belts. They are high off their recent promotion because they now outrank others, but little do they know is that they are still fresh bait to higher belts who now look to blue belts with an even larger target on their back…
Stage II – These blue belts are starting to get comfortable in the BJJ food chain. They clearly know that they are more technically skilled than white belts and use that towards their advantage to keep their confidence up; however, they often get reality checked by higher belts (primarily hungry purples who also need their confidence booster as well). This is also where blue belts skate the fine line of persevering or fizzling out. They will either get too caught up in the feels of “losing” to higher belts rather than focus on their technique and growth.
Stage III – Humility starts to kick in at this stage. There aren’t any easy rolls except when choosing the brand spanking new white belt to train with… Blue belts at this point either have to start evolving to improve or fall into the trap of – I’m just going to do the techniques that I think I’m good at (or what works on white belts). Most times, it will take awhile for this self-realization to set in and the blue belt will wallow in self-pity about how they should be rolling better against higher belts. Eventually, the light bulb will come on, and just like how something clicked at white belt, things will start to click at blue and it serves to rejuvenate the motivation to learn and improve.
Stage IV – Things are starting to click and make sense but now impatience sets in. Where is my purple belt? I’ve spent more than enough time at blue belt and I’m ready for my purple belt. I can hang in sparring with purple belts… how come I’m not getting promoted? We all go through this stage at every belt level. However, how you outwardly handle this impatience makes all the difference. It will motivate some to train more and train harder… while it will depress others to the point that they don’t think that they will ever make it to the next belt and quit. Yes, that sounds pretty dramatic, but when you spent a lot of time (and I’m talking like 3-4 years at blue), of course you’re going to start internalizing things more. I know I did… after I had been a blue belt for 3.5 years. However, when the next belt comes… and trust me, it will come… it makes you that much more prepared to face the challenge of an even LARGER target on your back as a purple belt.
We almost always compare ourselves to others – regardless of the belt rank. But what most don’t realize is that not everyone learns the same way, trains the same way, or has the same skill level for the same amount of time that they have been training. I think that especially at the lower belts, we have a tendency to do this more often than we should – which highly affects our mental ability to improve on the mat.
In this “new school” of Jiu-Jitsu, we are often taught to believe that we will get our next belt in the allotted time that the IBJJF has designated. Hence, when we don’t get it in that time frame, this is when the various belt stages clearly comes into play. We spend more time in certain stages than others, or bypass some altogether. However, going through one or some or all of these stages at blue belt, one must remember a few things:
1. Unless you’re gifted and talented and all you do is train (because you don’t work or go to school), you will not get your black belt in less than 6 years. Don’t focus on the time.
2. There is always someone who is going to be better than you and know more than you.
3. Nobody cares, just train.
Blue belt is where the majority quit. Don’t be that statistic. Train hard, be humble, and enjoy the highs and lows of the journey.