BJJ Belts/Grades - Why is it Worth it and Who Really Cares?
Updated: May 7
"A belt only covers two inches of your arse, you have to cover the rest" Royce Gracie
Picture this... You're a tough guy or girl, you've been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a good couple of years and you feel like you're starting to pick up the basics but it hasn't been easy...
You've been subjected to crushing side control pressure, another humans sweat in your eyeballs and every so often a firm knee or elbow to the back of the noggin'. It's fair to say you've taken your licks...
And then one day you turn up to a friend of a friend's birthday party and a conversation about martial arts comes up...
Your friend says to you: "Hey Jim, you do some of that martial arts stuff, how's it going?" to which you reply: "Ye thanks Bob it's going good, it has been a few years now and although its hard work I think I'm almost ready for my Purple Belt." and that's when it happens...
Sophie who wouldn't know an Armbar from a Mars Bar, points out that "My nephews a Black Belt in Karate and he's only been doing it a couple of years, why aren't you a Black Belt Jim?"
Jim buries his head in a combination of frustration and outright bafflement as Sophie proceeds with her pressing glare awaiting Jim's reply...
Jim calmly states that "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a very different martial art to Karate and it actually takes on average 10 years to receive a black belt in BJJ" to which Sophie replies "Wow I had no idea it took such commitment".
The fact of the matter is that only a slim minority of people will understand your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt level. And fewer still can relate to the struggle you endured to earn it.
So why do we work so hard to climb our way up the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt ranking system?
Not for the admiration of the masses that's for sure...
A Sense Of Accomplishment:
"The feeling of accomplishment welled up inside me, three Olympic gold medals. I knew that was something nobody could ever take away from me, ever." Wilma Rudolph
Wilma was an African American track and field star during the 1950s, after being told as a child that she would never walk again she persevered and went on to win Gold in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay. All whilst performing among a climate of prolific sexism and racism.
Whats it got to do with BJJ grades? I'd like to hone in on what Wilma said: "I knew that was something nobody could ever take away from me, ever"...
When you earn a belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from a legitimate school, there is no question that you EARNT it.
You went through the mill and you came out the other side and that sense of accomplishment is something that no-one can take away from you.
Even if people (like our friend Sophie) do not understand the achievement - they can not take it away from you.
You know intrinsically the worth of your achievement, and you know that you earnt it.
This is in and of itself immensely valuable.
The Cookie Jar:
The great motivational maniac and all around savage David Goggins (who if you do not know, you need to study!) came up with a tremendous idea called the 'Cookie Jar'.
The Cookie Jar is the collective memories, stored in your mind, of all the accomplishments you have achieved and hardships you have overcome.
The idea is that by paying witness, through your memory bank, to the extreme circumstances you have overcome in the past and to the difficult accomplishments that you have achieved this makes you feel better about yourself and more able to achieve great things in the present.
You can remind yourself of how badass you have been in the past and through doing so inspire yourself to be a badass in the present moment.
Achieving a belt grade in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu be it Blue, Purple, Brown, Black or even the first stripe on your white belt is most certainly worthy of accommodation in the cookie jar.
The trials and tribulations, blood, sweat, and tears, that you have endured on the way to attaining your BJJ belt and grade, makes you pretty badass.
A lot of people push themselves to do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to go through the grades and earn the belts, solely because they feel better about themselves for doing it!
It fills you with confidence to know that you are doing something healthy, constructive and positive. Not only this but you are learning how to defend yourself at the same time.
The improved self-worth and an increased sense of personal security are immensely valuable. Especially for the more vulnerable members of society - the smaller, 'weaker' individuals, for whom Jiu-Jitsu was created.
Some people are just crazy, constantly pushing themselves to the top of the next hill and always looking for something to strive towards. Something to become or to do to feed their insatiable hunger for challenge and personal development.
What better challenge than the challenge of attaining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and climbing the BJJ grading system. A challenge that will require long-term dedication, athleticism, work ethic, positive mindset, humility, and perseverance.
To climb your way up the BJJ belt grades and attain a black belt is a testing endeavor. One that involves many many hours of tough and rigorous unarmed combat with men and women of all shapes and sizes.
Are you up to the challenge?
Whether people in the mundane (non-BJJ-training) portion of society acknowledge your achievement or not. It is one hell of an accomplishment to grade up in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to attain the next belt and get that much closer to Black. If you are anywhere on the ladder we salute you!
Thanks for reading and be sure to stop by the store!