Skip to main content

The curse of the blue belt - Part 2


Is the blue belt is the new white belt?

In my previous article the curse of the blue belt, I discuss the reasons why students leave BJJ after graduating from blue belt. http://www.aucklandbjj.com/2014/07/the-curse-of-blue-belt.html

I also offers some suggestions for retention of such blue belts and try to avoid the inevitable migration of your students.

In this article (or a rant), I am looking at a different phenome of BJJ.

In BJJ, graduation is usually held twice a year: June and December.

Recently, I read of gyms that created a new belt to fit in between the white and the blue belt.

They would create a green belt for adult. It is funny as green belt is the last belt for kids.

The new federation lead by Rickson Gracie as a white/blue belt to fit in the gap as well.

Why do we need such belt?

Is it that hard to retain white belts until they progress to blue belt?

I read of gyms that coincide their promotion with their long term contract.

You sign up for a year and receive your blue belt at the end of your contract.

Then you get talked into signing up for another contract of a 2 years and you will receive your purple belt at the end.

Great for business but is it worth it for the sake of the martial art!

Do we need to live in a society of instant gratification?

So what is it about this blue belt so important?

For me, the blue belt is the hardest to earn in BJJ.

The reason is simple.

You have to learn so much techniques.

The rest of the belts like purple, brown and black are easier compare to the amount of stuff you have expected to grasp to achieve blue belt.

If you train by following IBJJF rules, purple belts competition rules are same as blue belt.

The big difference comes at brown belt level where you can use new submissions such as knee bar, toe hold, bicep slicers, calf slicers.

Therefore, it is really by brown belt that you are expected to learn some new techniques in theory. The purple belt is just the same expectation of a blue belt in terms of techniques.

We are talking about so many positions and actions: mount, back, side control, knee on the belly, north south, guard subs, guard passes, guard sweeps, ½ guard game (top and bottom), turtle, takedown and the list goes on and on.

So why do we expect so much of a blue belt?

Why can’t we just expect that it is an entry level belt and what does it means?

I am guilty of looking at this issue from the point of my experience.

Back in my days as a white belt, blue belt (same as black belt) were scarce.

Blue belts were good and tough. Maybe because I was a white belt and did not know anything, I was dominated by blue belts. Well forget about the black belt!

 
Can a blue belt turn around and admit that he does not how to do a specific position or action because he just does not know?

 

The belt system (yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and brown) is not even a traditional system of rank in Japan.

 

It was created by a Judo instructor while he taught and lived in France.

 

Once thing for sure is that I consider belt promotion as a tool to learn.

If I feel a student will benefit of getting promoted, I think it is time.

On the other hand, if I feel that a student would feel the pressure of wearing the new belt. I think I will wait a little longer and reassess on the next 6 months.

You want to be that guy that wear the belt well instead of the belt fitting loose.

Overdue is usually the nicest compliment you can receive when getting promoted.

So why the pressure?

Surely, we do not promote a head hunter at our club. You can get submitted by a lower belt at training, it does not matter. It just happens as it is part of training. I would rather see someone sparring and losing to a lower belt than watching someone refusing to spar because he knows he might lose.

It is about the ego and it is something that everyone needs to learn to deal with.

Belt promotion is about heart and not just techniques.

And this is the first belt your heart will be tested on a daily basis.

“Now I don’t care if I tap you. I get tapped too. Everyone loses. But I do care about your tenacity as you roll. I want a Jiu Jitsu practitioner to fight until the end, to lose but not be defeated. If you captain your own ship then I want to know that if it sank it is because of the ocean and not your heart”.

 

 


 

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What is this tab on your Jiu Jitsu belt?

As we are getting closer to graduation, students that are not getting promoted to the next belt will likely to receive stripes instead. If you do not have a black tab on your belt, we cannot give you stripes. Why do we have stripes? The Gracies decided to have a stripes system in order to be different from Judo. As it takes 1-3 years between belts, it is nice to receive stripes once in a while. How often do we give stripes? It is usually done during graduation which is usually held twice a year (August and December). What if you miss the graduation event? No worries, we will give them during the following classes.   How many stripes can I get? You can get up to 4 stripes. Is there a minimum number of stripes in order to get the next belt?   No, in fact some schools do not bother with stripes. You can move to the next belt even if you do not have any stripes. What is the red tab for? It is for the instructors. A blue

The curse of the blue belt

I will teach you a black belt magic trick in Jiu Jitsu. If you want a student to disappear: give him a blue belt. It is recurring event in the life of an instructor and a club. If you think the drop out of white belts is bad enough, the ratio of drop out of the blue belts is worst. I am not sure if I agree with statistics on this picture. But the issue is not really about arguing about the percentages of drop out but more on discussing the reasons for such drop out and what we can do to prevent it.  Reasons for the drop out: It takes a long time to achieve a blue belt. It average between 1-3 years. After 1-3 years of training, people loose interest and wants to start a new sport or hobby. The goal of the student was to achieve the blue belt and not the black belt. Personal situations changes over the years. Lot of people that start training are young single males with disposable income. Lot of them are at university level or are single. Add a few more years and they

Auckland BJJ Police Training

  On the 17th of January we had our second Police training session at Auckland BJJ. Several of our members are police officers and they had asked if they can use the Dojo to do some training and practice off duty. We were happy to help and Stu and Jora helped out organizing the training.  We covered a few techniques that we thought would help these officers, and then we did some sparing sessions where they could apply these techniques. Below is a video of one of our arrest the black belt sessions :-) Auckland BJJ is happy to help the NZ police. Here is a gratuitous shot of my daughter and a police car.