Recently, I received my fourth stripe for my white belt. Immediately after earning the stripe, I thought—oh my gosh, blue belt is next. Like anyone else, I would love to earn my blue belt, but I am also afraid of it. What if I’m not good enough? What if I get tapped out by a white belt as a blue belt? Will my teammates think I’m not good enough for it? Will I be the first person to be demoted (even though this never would happen. I even feel the pressure with four stripes on my white belt, as if all of a sudden I am supposed to have it all together.
My open guard is easy to pass. My arm bars are rarely effective. I am insecure not just in rolling, but even in warm up drills. I can’t do a pretty shoulder roll yet. I am really slow doing gorilla hops. I am not flexible enough yet. All of these worries rush through my head with each promotion. So, what am I going to do about it?
First, I need to trust my professor. He has been teaching for many years, and he knows what level I need to be at for a promotion. He will certainly not just give it to me. Second, my only job right now is to keep showing up. I need to focus on getting the mat time, and using each class to get better. The promotions will come if I keep working at it. Finally, I need to realize that most people are only focusing on themselves, and not spending every moment wondering if I am up to the belt/stripe level. They are probably wondering the same about themselves. And if a lower rank passes my open guard, awesome for them! We are both learning as we roll. Hopefully my teammate will get a confidence boost, and I will learn how I can prevent a similar pass in the future. This isn’t a race, and everyone is on their individual journey.
I am going to try on focusing on just showing up. I am going to set my alarm clock for 0430 (I can only make those painful early morning classes right now). I am going to drive the 10 minutes to class, put on my Gi, and get going. I am going to step on the mat and focus. I am going to use each drill and each roll as a learning experience. I am going to have fun, for goodness sake. One day, I will be called up by my professor, and I will have earned my blue belt. When I put that belt on, I will need to remember what it took to get there—hard work, dozens of rounds of being submitted, bruises, dripping sweat and sore muscles. When you earn your next belt, remember—You aren’t given that belt. You have earned it. You are worthy.
About the Author:
Darisse Smith is a four stripe white belt and trains at Aloisio Silva Academy in Yucaipa, California. She is married with a 6 year old son who also trains in Jiu Jitsu. Darisse spent 7 years in the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance and attack helicopter pilot. She is a full-time student at UC-Irvine, earning her 2nd Bachelor’s Degree in Literary Journalism. Her favorite move is the kimura from closed guard.