If you would need to choose one belt that is paramount to every jiu-jitser’s career, which one would you pick? Both for yourself and for others? Well, opinions would certainly differ among various kinds of BJJ grapplers, based on point in time of their BJJ career and experiences they went through, but almost all the top coaches agree on this point unanimously. They select one belt as the most important. Which is…
Yes – It’s The White Belt
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. In the following article, we will explain some basic principles that stand behind this simple truth, and will also show the connection between white and blue belt, and everything that happens in-between.
The most difficult and the most important promotion any student will ever earn in jiu jitsu, is the white belt. — Rener Gracie
In the informative and inspiring video that soon follows, Rener and Ryron Gracie say how maximally 10% of the people entering a BJJ journey will earn their blue belts.
If you are one of them, congratulate yourself because you are a tough guy (or girl!). It’s not considered just by itself. Even though BJJ today is maybe a completely assimilated part of your life, and you consider it „normal“, the fact remains that the vast majority of people will never ever consider trying it, even if they want to!
Rener and Ryron estimate that less than 1/10 of 1% of the world population ever try to train BJJ. That’s like some 7 million people in the whole world (more or less).
So, statistically speaking, it’s couple of hundreds of times more difficult to „conquer“ the white belt from the point of general population (i.e., that means to „show up“ in the training session, conquer your initial fear, and start your BJJ journey), than it is to transfer yourself into the group of people who have gained their blue belts.
Drop an eye on this video to get the broader picture of the importance of a white belt, and transitioning to a blue belt.
Transition From White To Blue Belt Is The Most Important Step On Your BJJ Journey
Why? We have just explained it – because most of the people quit before that step.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for sure one of the most difficult martial arts to master and the learning curve is extremely long and complex. The sport has one of the highest drop-out rates of any martial arts, and this is not very surprising. Many people don’t have the patience required to persist. And even if you have required patience, you also need one more ingredient as much – self-confidence in your abilities. If you don’t have it, very quickly it will show up on your BJJ path. And then, you get the opportunity to work on it and develop it, or… retract and quit. There’s no third option possible – because BJJ faces you with yourself in the mirror.
One another aspect is, there is no preconceived notion of how to grapple – although almost everyone has a preconceived notion of how to punch and kick. Okay, today many people watch UFC or similar MMA tournaments and learn from watching, but still, you get the point. They may think they know something related to grappling, but as soon as they try – they realize it doesn’t work, just by having some hazy and undrilled ideas in the mind.
Learning how to grapple is like learning how to swim. The most important belt in jiu-jitsu is the white belt, and the biggest step on that journey is acquiring your blue belt. Why is this? When you’re a white belt, generally, you have no idea what to do, and everything is new. You need to build a foundation, learn what jiu-jitsu is about, and also get in shape as you struggle and tap out. You learn by trial and error, by experiencing on your own skin what does and what doesn’t work.
Building A Solid Foundation
White to blue belt is the biggest step forward because this is the time where you will learn the basic fundamentals and concepts, and build a foundation to grow upon. This foundation will also help you develop your skills necessary to learn self-defense if you need it one day.
In jiu-jitsu, a blue belt is a dangerous person on the street and knows more than 99% of the people in the world. — Joe Rogan
Building a solid foundation is going to allow you to progress in your future jiu-jitsu journey, when everything suddenly becomes more complex and profound – but at the same time more joyful!
Learning What BJJ Is All About
An enormous part of white to blue belt transition is learning what jiu-jitsu is. What do we mean exactly? When we start training jiu-jitsu, most of us assume that there will be some punching and kicking, but soon we find out that the sparring doesn’t include punches or kicks. We also surprisingly find out that a lot of academies start sparring from the knees and the goals are generally to pass, sweep, or submit your opponent.
That way, by starting the sparring from the floor, the danger of injuries is minimized and most academies pay huge attention to that factor. Not just for practical and health reasons, but also monetary reasons. More injured disciples equal less monthly fees, and also a bad voice for future interested novices.
This is why white to blue belt transition is so important and fundamental: we learn the way jiu-jitsu classes function, how sparring works, and what your future goals should be. Starting jiu-jitsu is pretty intimidating, that’s why so many people quit. It can easily discourage people. Only the sport of wrestling may be more intimidating. Two main reasons are, the fact that it’s much more intense on the body (drills and tempo), and also the fact that in wrestling you usually don’t have a choice whether you will compete or not, while in BJJ you can deliberately choose.
Getting In Good Physical Shape And Tapping Out
Getting in good physical shape and tapping out are probably the most important segments of the journey from white to blue belt. Rolling as a white belt means accepting to be at the bottom of the food chain and also exerting massive amounts of energy when rolling. This is because you don’t know exactly what you are doing, and you will put 100% effort into everything you do.
At this stage, you will tap out extensively and then learn from it. You will get beat up, hurt, and tired beyond belief but you will tremendously grow because of it. The rule is: The more you tap, the more you will learn. At this point, it is very important to choose the academy of supportive members and kind people (starting with the coach!) at the very start of your BJJ journey, so that the transition goes smoother and less stressful.