Most people training in the martial arts have a goal to achieve the mythical black belt.
“When I finally wrap that black belt around my waist”, the narrative goes, “THEN life will be good, my wife, kids and dog will all love me, and I’ll never look stupid on the mats again.”
Ummmm, back up just a second…
A good black belt frequently has to go back to being a white belt, and deliberately put himself into situations where he’s going to look stupid for sure.
What do I mean by this?
In order to keep growing in the art at any level you need to learn new things.
And almost every time you add something big to your game then things are going to get worse before they get better.
Let’s say there’s this cool guard pass that your instructor has been telling you to do. You’re agree and think it would be a great fit with your game.
So you drill the move a few times and then try it out in sparring.
Things don’t go so well… You don’t pass the guard of your training partners… And you get swept and submitted multiple times.
Is it a stupid guard pass? No, it’s just much more likely that you weren’t doing it 100% correctly.
Or let’s say that you start using a new submission from mount that you saw a world champion win the Mundials with. But when you try it out at the open mat suddenly you can’t finish even the brand new beginners with it.
These failures are happening because you haven’t yet learned the timing, the adjustments, and the fine details that make the technique work against any kind of resistance.
You might have a blue belt around your waist because you are blue belt level at doing a certain set of techniques. Those are your most reliable techniques, the core of your game.
By definition, a new technique is not one of your core techniques. So even though you’re an official blue belt you’re still a white belt when it comes to your new guard pass or submission.
And that’s OK. This is exactly how Jiu-jitsu is supposed to work.
In fact it’s an absolutely necessary part of getting as good as you can get.
There is a saying they get printed on coffee mugs that I completely agree with: “There is no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone.”
Going back to white belt is definitely not comfortable. But this is where the growth in your game will occur.
Who cares if you tap out five times extra in a night of training because you are trying to play with something new? It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It all comes out in the wash.
Be prepared to admit that you don’t know everything, and don’t let your ego prevent you from learning something new.
No matter how long you’ve been training, be OK with occasionally going back to white belt.
- I Only Got Tapped Out Twice! My struggles learning a new guard pass.
- How to Come Up With New Techniques Plus some tips on how to train a new technique.
- Blood, Sweat and… Sparta! The real reason we train.