As I write this, I am an experienced purple belt making my way to brown. I highlight this to ensure that I am keenly aware that I have much to learn and that my thoughts and growth in the future may differ from present thoughts. Additionally, if you read this and hold some additional insight, I’d love to hear it.
My jiu-jitsu journey has taken way longer than what I’d like. I’ve been in this for over ten years and still just a purple belt. But as women, I believe our journey in this art/sport/hobby may require more patience as having babies takes a toll on the body and requires additional time off the mats. My slower journey isn’t due to motherhood, but injury, surgery, work, and a lack of gyms near me (this was years ago, I have the fortune to have many gyms in my area now).
By far, my white-belt years were the most inconsistent for me. Work only allowed for me to go one day a week, if at all. So, when some friends opened their gym about five or six years ago, I felt like I had to learn all over again. However, I was excited to learn I finally had a gym to go to. Needless to say, I was a white-belt for a long time.
My blue-belt has been my most frustrating stage thus far. To be candid, I wanted to quit. I couldn’t seem to figure out how to grow and improve my skill set. I felt like new- comers were walking on the mats and grasping things so much more quickly than I did. Then on top of it, they were crushing me in every round it seemed. Every day was a ritualistic butt-kicking. I say all of this to ask, is this why we lose so many teammates at blue belts?
Yes, we joke about it. White-belts have been called spazzy (no offense to my white-belt friends, just mentioning the stereotype). Purple belts show up late to skip warm-ups. Blue belts seem to get promoted and shortly thereafter, ghost the gym.
I’ve often wondered if blue belts are like teenagers trying to figure themselves out in their journey in jiu-jitsu. It can seem like an identity crisis of learning what their strengths are and how to correct poor technique execution. That alone can be quite challenging. Or maybe like me, they struggle to get promoted and when they do, they can’t seem to figure out how to connect the dots on where to go from there. If you’re not a natural at grasping jiu-jitsu (which is also me), then learning to improve may cause frustrating walls. So, what do you do if you hit a wall and can’t seem to get around it? Well, you quit.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all blue belts. And there can be many factors that play into this, but jiu jitsu is a growing and ever-evolving sport. For years, it was taught a certain, classic way and now it’s morphed into more concepts and not just techniques. There’s also been so many other guard styles that have been introduced. If my theory has any merit to it, is there a way to coach or train blue-belts? Let’s hear it, or better yet, tag a teammate that’s ghosted your gym so we can hear it from them.
About the author: Mindi is a purple belt under Headnod HQ in Granite City, Illinois under Josh and Steve McKinney. She is affiliated with TAC Team BJJ. When Mindi isn’t on the mats, she is writing, working in women’s ministry, or across seas as a volunteer missionary. Instagram: @fomindi82