As the story goes, most people don’t do jiujitsu, and people who do end up joining, don’t make it to blue belt. And then once they do make it to blue belt, end up quitting. Why is that? Why do most white belts quit before they get their blue belt or quit when they get their blue belt?
Maybe they quit because they couldn’t stick to a schedule. Maybe they quit because they couldn’t embrace the suck. And maybe they quit because their interest in the sport faded away.
This post is for people who are white belts in Jiu Jitsu and want to know what it takes to get your blue belt. This post is for people who are hobbyists, people who have multiple jobs, families and people to take care of, and that have other hobbies, other than a BJJ.
Last week I was promoted to a blue belt by a Gracie Barra jiujitsu academy here in my city. You can read more about my initial reaction to that here -> https://downculture.com/2023/04/06/getting-your-blue-belt-in-brazilian-jiu-jitsu/
This is how I became a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu as a hobbyist…
◦ “Embracing the Suck”
People have been doing jiujitsu for hundreds of years and there’s so many tips and tricks and hacks and advice you can find online.
The following is my perspective that worked for me. Maybe it’ll work for you.
Early morning, walking the dogs, then packing your lunch and then heading out the door for work. You worked for a while, get home, and have to walk the dogs again, then shower then pack your gym bag and head to BJJ class. Pulling into the parking lot you barely make it before jiujitsu class starts, you’re out of breath before the warm-up has even begun. Add onto that the fact that you get body slammed, choked and limbs hyper-extended every week. I feel like you and I have a busy life.
I’ve found that the best way to mentally stay with jiujitsu is to pick a schedule and stick with it. Sometimes you won’t be able to go, but do your best. I have three part-time jobs and two dogs to take care of, and a wife to spend time with, if I can make time, so can you.
For example, when I first started jiujitsu, I was going 6 to 7 hours a week. For me that was too much and ultimately unsustainable. There were weeks where I went twice, there’s weeks when I couldn’t go at all or chose not to, life happens and you have to just figure it out but eventually my attendance levelled out to 3 to 4 hours a week. At the gym I go to, attendance is very important since we sign-in every time we show up.
Every gym is different but training as much as your schedule allows will ensure you’re learning as much as you can and that you will eventually get promoted.
“Embracing the Suck”
Someone else’s sweat dripping in your mouth while they’re on top of you putting you into the mat with their 200 pounds and you’re barely able to breathe and your joints hurt.
“Embrace the Suck.” I’ve heard that quote many times over the course of my life and I think it comes from the school of Navy SEALs. The idea is that whatever you’re doing especially training, is going to suck. I think it means you’re going to get hurt and won’t want to do it but that the people who persevere and push through it, or embrace how much it sucks, are the ones who come out on top.
For example, as a white belt, my main focus and theme of my journey was (and still is) survival. I feel it’s still a focus of mine, even as a new blue belt. As a white belt, there where many times I wanted to quit because I got my ass kicked so much in front of a bunch of people. But what I eventually realized is that that’s just part of the game. Every white belt gets their ass kicked and I’m sure as you climb your way up through the belt ranks you also get your ass kicked in various different ways.
If you keep yourself healthy, mentally, and physically, if you have other hobbies outside of jiujutsu and don’t make it part of your whole identity, or take it way too seriously, and create realistic expectations for yourself as a white belt, then embracing the suck, will be easier. But it will still suck.
I lost count how many people I’ve seen come and go since starting jiujitsu over a year and a half ago. I’ll never know for sure why the people that are no longer there ended up quitting. But I bet a bunch of them quit because their interest in the sport slowly faded away, especially if they thought they weren’t getting any better, or they couldn’t take all the beatings, or they didn’t get promoted when they thought they should.
As I’ve said before, life gets in the way, or other more important commitments take over your life, and that’s OK, nobody should be shamed for rearranging their priorities in their life however they see fit. But for those who stick with jiujitsu, you can tell that they’re passionate about it. They watch jiujitsu matches on video, they read about jiujitsu, they talk about jiujitsu, and they try to get their friends and family to join jiujitsu. If you can keep your interest, even when you’re getting your ass kicked, the chances of you getting promoted to your blue belt and beyond are much higher than the average white belt.
Creating a schedule and sticking with it, embracing the suck and showing up even when you continually get your ass kicked, while at the same time remaining interested and passionate about the sport, all will help you get to your blue belt (and probably beyond) quicker than you think.
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