Promotions in Jiu Jitsu are not comparable to any other martial art. They’re harder to achieve, typically take longer, and require considerably more effort and humility. These factors tend to make them feel more valuable and coveted. Getting a stripe or a new belt color is a big deal in our world. It represents a lot to those of us who have done the work and felt all the ups and downs that come with training. They’re so difficult to achieve that, other than maybe our first stripe or two on our white belts, we often question whether or not we deserve our promotion. We’re not sure if we’re “ready” for this new level of intensity and/or knowledge. We instantly remember what all we CAN’T do instead of remembering what we’ve done.
I recently received my second stripe on my blue belt bringing all these questions and doubts to the forefront of my mind. Coincidentally, we also had several other promotions at our school, which I’m sure sparked some of my training partners to have similar doubts. Talking just today with a friend who is also a blue belt and has been out of training for several years now, he was explaining how hard it was to come back because of what he assumed would be expected of him with a colored belt. This theme of whether or not we deserve to be where we are just keeps reappearing to me. So I had to ask myself why?
The answer is found not in questioning my instructors judgment, but more in questioning my own measurement in what I think the belt/stripes mean. If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I measured the meaning of belts and stripes by who I could beat and sometimes in who could beat me. This line of thinking though is based solely on ego, which we’ve all heard we needed to check at the door. I’m as guilty as anyone. If I tapped a blue belt as a white belt, I might find myself thinking they didn’t deserve that belt or maybe by default I was somehow “better” than them. This is a path of thinking that ends abruptly and most likely whoever is thinking it won’t last.
The reality is that we have to trust our instructor’s judgment. They see and know way more than we do. They have a broader view of things like goals, attendance, attitude, how we train in class, our skill level, what we need, and so many other factors that can and probably should be considered when it comes to promoting someone. All we see is how we rolled at Open mat or that one time we hit a sit up sweep on that higher belt. Trust your instructor...especially when they are putting a new stripe or belt on you.
Roy Silvers (Blue)
Jeff Spain Jr
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt