Getting Belt Stripes in Jiu Jitsu

Have you ever received stripes in a martial art? And have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve them?

About a month ago I got promoted two stripes. I’m now a two stripe white belt in the martial art of Jiu Jitsu. I was so excited to get them I blasted it out on twitter to let all you folks know.

After the buzz I got from sharing my accomplishment and receiving your “congrats” messages, I started to question the decision, Do I really deserve these two stripes?

It first happened when I had a terrible outing during an open mat session at our gym the following week after I got the stripes. I got wrecked even harder than I usually did. I thought to myself, Why did our head instructor promote me in the first place?

I thought about it a bit and figured it was because I showed up a lot. Our head instructor went around the gym the day we got stripes and asked if we had signed in at the front before starting. I read somewhere on Reddit r/bjj that Gracie Barra does promotions based on attendance, and I recall many comments dumping on GB because of that. Any gym can run things how they want and no gym does it perfectly, but I think getting a stripe for showing up is a good thing (of course I’m biased because I got one for that, I think). The stripe can be a sign of commitment, your discipline in showing up and doing the hard work.

Okay so why did I receive a second stripe? Well the head instructor told me, after I said I was surprised I got two stripes, that “You competed and almost died!” with a laugh. We both laughed. It’s true I got beat and almost choked out, but survived the full five minute round (you can read about it here).

I got my stripes for showing up often to class and for competing. Not necessarily for how good I am at technique. But I have had other white belts and some higher belts tell me my game has improved, especially my back-defence. And that means a lot to me.

So, do I think I deserve those two stripes? YES

Jiu Jitsu is hard. Most people don’t do jiu jitsu. Most people in jiu jitsu don’t compete. And most white belts in jiu jitsu don’t stay after they get promoted to blue belt. Why? I have no Idea but I’m making it to blue belt for sure. I just have to keep showing up and getting worked by my partners. As I get my butt kicked I’ll learn along the way and eventually not get my butt kicked as bad, that’s the idea anyway. I have to roll smart and avoid permanent injury (You hear that shoulders! You better not get injured again!).

This marital art is a weird hobby or lifestyle. There are ups and downs and plateaus. I bet most people quit because of the downs and plateaus. I missed grappling when I was younger and joined jiu jitsu last year to get the good feeling of the mats back in my life. So far I am really enjoying it. Cheers to keeping the mats in my life for the foreseeable future.

In this episode I chat about competing in a jiu jitsu competition as a no-stripe white belt. Topics such as comp training classes, nutrition, cutting weight, and expectations for competing as a white belt. If you’re interested in competing in BJJ check this out!

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