The Belt Is Not the Progression

It seems that as people come to Jiu Jitsu, it is common to focus first on getting stripes and then on getting to the next belt. People become frustrated, and feel they are being held back if they are not progressing at a rate to their satisfaction.

I remember early on in my Jiu Jitsu career, getting a new belt carried  so much weight and gravity, that there was no rush to get to the next belt, in fact it was quite the opposite. There were two blue belts in the state, that I was aware of, so to be graded as a blue belt back then seemed to carry the weight of being graded as a black belt today.

Your progress on the mat is not dictated by the belt you wear. If anything, the belt is retrospective to the achievement you have already made. Ever day you get on the mat, you are making progress, even if it doesn’t feel like it some times. Even if you feel you are going backwards, if you are on the mat, then you are working through this difficult stage, and you will get to a stage where you feel and see the progress you have made.

To me progress in Jiu Jitsu feels like an undulating line on a gradual incline. Over a short period of time, it may feel like there is little or no progress, or even that you have gone backwards. If you look at the line over a longer period of time there is significant progression. I feel my game goes through stages of flux, where I start to add something to my game, it can feel like there are a lot of disconnected components, but as I start to assimilate these new skills, connections build between all of these components and they “gel” into a strongly connected cohesive game, which relates to the rise and fall of the undulating line.

So worry not, about the belt you wear. Worry less about the belt other students wear. This is your journey, it will happen at your pace, dependent on your skills, aptitude, dedication and available time to be on the mat. Concern yourself only with consistency and enjoying your time on the mats. These things will bring you progression, and in good time, the significant weight of a new belt to wear and represent.

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