I can't believe I finally made it to purple belt!
It feels like just yesterday I was a white belt, struggling to wrap my head around all the different techniques and strategies.
But I stuck with it and eventually made it through the "blue belt blues."
If you're a blue belt reading this and feeling frustrated, trust me, I know how you feel.
The blue belt stage can be a tough and discouraging time, but it's important to remember that it's just a temporary phase.
In this blog post, I'll share my own experience with the blue belt blues and provide some helpful tips and advice on how to overcome it and keep pushing forward towards your goals in BJJ.
So, grab your gi, let's roll, and let's beat the blue belt blues together!
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What the f*ck is the “blue belt blues” anyway?
Congratulations, you've made it to the blue belt! You must be feeling pretty proud of yourself, patting yourself on the back, and saying "look at me, I'm a real-life ninja warrior!".
But not so fast, my friend, because the blue belt is also the point where things start to get real.
You see, the blue belt is where the fun ends and the hard work begins.
It's where you hit the infamous "blue belt blues", the darkest and most frustrating phase of your BJJ journey.
So, what exactly is the blue belt blues?
Well, it's a feeling of frustration, demoralization, and confusion that many practitioners experience at the blue belt level.
It's that point where you realize that BJJ is not just about doing cool moves and submissions, but also about getting smashed, tapped out, and subbed by bigger, stronger, and more experienced practitioners. And yes, you will often get tapped out by experienced white belts too!
It's that moment where you start to doubt your abilities, compare yourself to others, and feel like you're not making any progress.
It's the "midlife crisis" of the BJJ journey, if you will.
It's the point where you have to dig deep, face your fears, and overcome your limitations in order to continue growing and improving as a practitioner.
And yes, it's a real pain in the ass, but it's also a valuable learning experience.
Signs of the “blue belt blues”
You will know you are going through the blue belt blues phase when you begin to see or experience these signs:
You start to feel frustrated and demotivated when training
You used to love going to training, but now it feels like a chore. You roll with a heavy heart, and every tap feels like a personal defeat.
You compare yourself to other practitioners and feel like you’re not as good as them
You see them executing techniques with ease, and you wonder why you can't do the same.
You get stuck with certain techniques and can’t seem to improve them
You try and try, but you just can't get the hang of it. You start to doubt your ability to learn and progress in jiu jitsu.
For me, personally, it was passing the guard.
The only decent submission I had as a blue belt was the leg lock and when everyone around me began to adapt and understand how to neutralize my best attack, I was forced to go out of my comfort zone of playing from the bottom and had months of frustration trying to pass people's guards.
You start to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of BJJ
You used to think it was just about sweeping and maintaining good posture when you are on top, but now you realize it's a whole science of leverage, angles, and pressure.
You feel like you'll never be able to master all the techniques and concepts.
You start to question your commitment to BJJ
You wonder if it's really worth all the time, money, and effort that you're putting into it.
You start to consider quitting and doing something else instead.
You start to dread rolling with certain opponents
You used to love rolling with anyone and everyone, but now you have a "favorites" list and a "blacklist" of people you like and dislike rolling with.
You avoid rolling with the "blacklist" people because you know they'll tap you out, and you seek out the "favorites" because you know you can tap them out.
You start to get injured more often
You used to be a BJJ "iron man", but now you're getting pulled muscles, twisted ankles, and sore joints on a regular basis.
You start to wonder if jiu jitsu is really good for your health, and you start to consider taking up yoga or meditation instead.
You start to get bored with training
You used to love trying new techniques and experimenting with different moves, but now you feel like you've seen it all and done it all.
You start to stick to the same old techniques and strategies, and you feel like you're not learning anything new.
You start to miss the excitement and challenge of the early days of BJJ.
You start to get jealous of other practitioners who are progressing faster than you
You see them getting promoted, winning competitions, and getting recognition, and you wonder why you're not getting the same.
You feel like you're not as dedicated, hard-working, or talented as them.
You start to doubt your own potential and worth as a BJJ practitioner.
You start to lose confidence in your abilities
You used to believe in yourself and your skills, but now you feel like you're not good enough.
You start to hesitate, second-guess, and doubt yourself.
You start to feel like you're not capable of achieving your goals in BJJ.
What causes the “blue belt blues”?
So, what exactly causes the blue belt blues. Different people might begin experiencing the blue belt blues due to different triggers. But for me, some of the main causes are as follows:
- The realization that you are no longer a complete beginner and have to start putting in more effort to improve.
- The feeling of being stuck at the same skill level for what seems like an eternity.
- The frustration of constantly being tapped out by higher belts and even lower belts.
- The pressure to perform well when you think your Professor and coaches are watching, which can be intimidating for blue belts who are still learning the ropes.
- The realization that you have a lot more to learn and that the learning curve is steep.
- The feeling of being overwhelmed by the number of techniques and strategies to remember.
- The comparison trap, where you see other blue belts or even white belts making progress faster than you and start feeling like you're falling behind.
How to tap the “blue belt blues” out
Earning my purple belt was a huge milestone for me in my jiu jitsu journey.
It's a rank that signifies a practitioner's increased level of knowledge and experience, and it's typically considered the first rank at which a practitioner has a good understanding of the technical aspects of the art and is able to apply this knowledge in real life.
The blue belt stage is rough. You're not quite a beginner anymore, but you're not quite a jiu jitsu mastermind either. It's a confusing time.
But don't worry, it's just a temporary phase.
To survive the blue belt blues and work towards earning your purple belt (or eventually black belt, if you're feeling ambitious), it's crucial to train consistently and regularly even when you don't feel like it.
The days that I really hated going to training have always been the days I found some major improvement in my game.
Show up to class, put in the effort to learn and improve, and try not to let your ego get in the way (trust me, it'll happen).
Seek guidance from experienced practitioners, such as your instructor or more advanced training partners.
They've been through the blue belt blues too, and they can offer valuable advice and encouragement.
And don't be afraid to ask questions! Jiu jitsu is a complex and nuanced martial art, and it's better to learn correctly from the beginning than to develop bad habits.
It's also important to focus on your own personal progress and set specific, achievable goals for yourself. This can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.
Remember that the jiu jitsu journey is always different from one person to another. Some of us have full time jobs so we can only train a few hours a day, some are full-time fighters who train up to 12 hours a day.
Some can only train 3 times a week, some can do 2 classes per day every day.
So, stop comparing yourself to others. Remember that your goal is to be the better version of yourself from yesterday.
Your training partners are not your competitors but think of them as people who will do everything they can to make you better every single day.
To wrap it up....
So there you have it, some practical tips and advice on how to survive the "blue belt blues" and work towards earning your purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
It's not an easy journey, but it's definitely worth it.
The sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes with earning a purple belt is truly unparalleled.
The blue belt stage is just a temporary phase, and with the right mindset and approach, you can overcome it and continue to make progress in your jiu jitsu journey. Good luck, and keep at it!
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