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I’m writing about this topic today because recently we just had four people promoted to purple belt, and also because the other day I was talking to one of my teammates about the number of people that have started and quit since I’ve been at Supremacy (there has been a lot) and it got me thinking: why do most people quit at or before the blue belt level? So many people come into the gym, do an AMAZING job and are very talented, and quit once they hit blue belt or gradually lose the interest/ drive that they once had when they started. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve felt like crap during training, I’ve wanted to quit, I’ve cried so many times because I thought I wasn’t good enough and that I wasn’t going to get any better. But I stuck with it and kept showing up, because I know one day all of the sweat, blood, and tears will pay off. I’ve asked a few current blue belts and purple belts that train at Supremacy BJJ why they think the blue belt is/ was so tough and why they think so many people quit before they reach purple, here are their responses:

  1. You hit plateaus. A lot. The transition from white to blue belt is so quick, so you have the impression that it will be this way for all of the belt levels. But the truth is that you haven’t even scratched the surface of your BJJ journey. One day you might feel like everything just clicks and you are tapping every belt level and the next day you could feel like you’ve just taken two steps back (which might happen more often than the good days do). You sometimes feel stuck during your training, like everyone around you is improving and catching up to you fast and you start to wonder if all of the frustration is worth it.
  2. If you are older, non- athletic, or have some type of disability or are injured, you may get discouraged easily by the young, healthy, athletic people who have the natural talent and train everyday and win gold medals at all of the competitions. It’s easy to compare yourself to others, but BJJ is a sport designed to help you better yourself physically and mentally and you should think of it as just that. You are training to be a better than you were the day before, brick by brick.
  3. You get tapped out almost more that you did when you were a white belt. This gets to a lot of people’s ego and is a big reason why some lose interest, find reasons for not training regularly, or just want to flat out quit. The reason why you are probably getting tapped out more is because now that you have made the transition from white to blue you have proven yourself to be knowledgeable enough in (almost) every basic position and can execute them during training. The higher belts notice that and go harder on you to because you are more of a challenge for them now, and they also want to prove a point and keep you humble. If anything you should take it as a compliment because that means that you are starting to challenge the higher belts and giving them a good training.

Of course there are other factors that contribute to people quitting BJJ such as: injuries, family, new job, etc.. But that doesn’t have to stop you from training completely. A lot of my training partners go through things like this everyday, and still we make or find the time/ energy to come and train somehow (whether it’s at Supremacy, home, or another gym). It just depends on your mindset and how badly you want to reach that black belt.

I want new blue belts and incoming white belts to read this blog and really pay attention to what it says. There will always be a reason/ chance/ excuse for you not to train or for you to quit. What you do from that point will set you apart from staying the same or becoming GREAT! If you get injured, this DOES NOT mean you stop coming to class. YES you can not roll or apply the technique depending on type of injury, however (PAY ATTENTION >) when you show up anyways you keep the momentum and mindset intact, and this will be huge for your success in sticking with jiu jitsu. So STOP Bs’ing yourself! You are capable of making the time to come and train. But if you are currently training BJJ and are going through any of this just remember that you have already spent so much time, money and energy on this amazing sport/art. You owe it to your future self who will thank you!

~Laila Ahmad, Head Children’s Coach and Blue Belt

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