So this past weekend, while Jamie was submitting his way to Black Belt Pan Pacific glory, I was luck enough to spend 3 fortunate hours on the mat with with some fantastic friends and training partners at a seminar by Julio Cesar Pereira (thanks again to Fabio Nunez for the opportunity).
For those that don’t know Julio, he is a 6th degree BB, who has been training since 1974. The opportunity to learn from someone with that sort of understanding and experience was fantastic, the techniques were great, but hidden amongst these were the nuances that only come with time, a slight change to a grip, a modification on an angle, a slight rotation and ‘ping’ there goes the light bulb!
I could wax lyrical about the seminar and its contents, but what I wanted to discuss was the point that was mentioned in the previous post by Jamie regarding Blue Belt attrition.
People often discuss the emotional roller coaster that is BJJ and it has been touched upon in previous posts. There are many attempts at explaining why people leave BJJ at various stages and a question I was keen to pose to Julio was, does this phenomenon of a slump at Blue Belt exist everywhere and the answer was yes.
So why do people have just spent somewhere between 2-4 years… (almost 5 in my case, but I’m a slow learner) obtaining their blue belt and within 6 months of wrapping that first solid recognition of BJJ progress around their waist they have stopped training.
While this phenomenon does exist at other belts, it seems more pronounced at blue belt. More white belts stop of course, but, that is inevitable as they are still trying to find something, that may not be BJJ. Purples, browns, yep, they stop too, but not as many as blues, ratio wise.
I think there are numerous reasons which I am not going to go into at length now. But for some, they have genuinely achieved enough, some are scared by the responsibility that comes with that belt and the next step, some are discouraged by how long the road is… so how do you stop this.
Everyone has to answer this for them self, but I think the focus has to be on the journey, not the destination.
It is about enjoying every step, even the ones backwards, taking each moment for what it is, each roll, each technique, each open mat. At the end of the day strapping that BB around your waist is a massive achievement, but it is just another step. If you focus on each belt, then I think you are setting yourself up for “false crests” as you realize the next section of the trail is steeper still.
When you realize that you are committing to this lifestyle, that it is a road with no destination, a journey that never ends, it makes more sense.
You will never win, you will never complete this game and you will never cross the finish line. It, the journey and the reward and the satisfaction this brings is always there. This lack of immediate gratification isn’t for everyone and the required perseverance goes against so much of what modern society espouses.
I defy anyone to say they have attained mastery in BJJ (is that why BJJ black belts are called professor, while other martial arts call their BB’s masters?), so we have to relax and enjoy the ride.
A bit deep I know and maybe I am trying to hard to explain it, but this isn’t a right or wrong, yes or no, concept. It is how I feel and if this helps in understanding what you feel, then I am happy .
To be continued….. Part 2