One Year as a Blue Belt

Coming up is the one year mark of my having the rank of blue belt in brazilian jiu jitsu. The year flew by, and feels kind of like the first shot of vodka when a good friend comes to visit and is down for some serious philosophical conversation. It’s a hell of a good beginning… Time to get to work.

My main goals for this year are:

  1. Compete and medal at No-Gi Pan Ams, Gi Pan Ams, and Gi Worlds.
  2. Compete 1-2 times a month in jiu jitsu and once a month in judo.

Someone said to me a couple months back that most people that quit jiu jitsu seem to quit as blue belts. There are a lot of reasons to quit training seriously: work, family, injuries. However, I think the real reason people quit is that they run up against the first major mental barrier where expectations are crushed. Where a passion for the sport is met with the reality that there is no shortcut to the top. Significant improvement (with accompanying competition results) at every level requires a lot of work, a bit of luck, and constant frustration / tension / discomfort. You have to constantly catch errors in your mindset, your technique, your intensity, and fix it, always trying to solve problems, evolve, and come back. And at the same time you have to believe in your training, and stick to it, for thousands of reps, hundreds of mat sessions, and (shudder) hundreds of bus rides.

I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but for example, I decided early on that I would relax as much as I possibly can, and not bring my overblown ego onto the mat. There was no “losing” in practice, and that as long as I do a technique correctly, it’s okay to have it shut down hundreds of times. I stick with it, believe in it, and drill the crap out of it until piece by piece it begins to click.

It’s been tough training hard and often, while at the same time focusing on the #1 priority: my research. I choose to sacrifice things like a social life, girls, etc for the most part.

There’s a couple of people that help me progress, that for some insane reason don’t mind seeing my sorry ass week after week, and I’m lucky as hell for that and am honored to known them.

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