What Does it Take to Become a BJJ Black Belt?
The Road to Mastery is Worth the Journey:
Black belts are awesome! They signify mastery of our craft, a well-rounded character, and a quiet confidence that comes with being an expert in something. That confidence and quietness becomes a little bit softer when you realize that your expertise is in choking people. :p All kidding aside, the main reason why the BJJ black belt is so coveted is not the skill it takes to earn one, but rather the personality that one needs to develop to obtain one.
First and foremost, having a black belt shows Commitment. It takes a very long time to move up in rank in Jiu Jitsu. Most people stay at a rank for at least two years. Some stay at the same rank for over five years. Even if someone was promoted every year and a half it would still take 6 years to earn a black belt! Commitment to anything for that long is an accomplishment, let alone a sport where you are literally stretched, squished, and choked on a daily basis for the sake of fun and learning. This brings us to our next point!
Nobody is born a black belt. Some people find it easy to climb trees, others find it easy to do a cartwheel, and still others find math easy. But the simple truth is that nobody finds Jiu Jitsu easy at first. Even as things appear to become easier, we begin to see the complexities in the seemingly simple situations and “ease” is no longer in our vocabulary. It would be wrong to say that it takes a certain kind of person to earn a black belt. In reality, anyone is capable as long as they persevere. Perseverance is the first quality to learn when starting BJJ. Every time we step on the mat is another step toward our black belt, but more importantly, it is a manifestation of our will to continue when things are difficult.
The description you probably hear most about black belts is that they are humble, and with good reason too. They have been through enough rolls (they actually probably left “enough” somewhere around their blue belt) to understand that Jiu Jitsu is about a personal journey. People have different reasons that they do Jiu Jitsu. Some do it to become a world champion, some do it as a form of expression, and others do it for a workout. None of these reasons is more valid than the other and the black belt understands it because he or she has likely been each of these people along the way. By the time you earn your black belt you are some combination of these people and many more. With this understanding, a black belt is able to understand the struggle of the white belt getting smashed by all of his training partners or the purple belt struggling with an advanced sweep. They have been there, persevered (see, there it is again!), and come through the other side a stronger person. For these reasons, the black belt learns not to judge and not to boast (unless it’s about his/her great students!).
Finally, black belts understand that Jiu Jitsu, like many other things, is never really finished. There is a saying that goes, “The best Jiu Jitsu player is one with the understanding of a black belt, but the curiosity of a white belt.” Learning is a huge part of the black belt’s life. They understand that there is always more to learn and that the sport is constantly evolving. They commit themselves to a life of learning and are forever a student of the art.
These qualities aren’t only important for black belts in Jiu Jitsu, but for black belts in life. We hope that along the way, we help to show our bots how these qualities can improve their Jiu Jitsu but also help them grow up to be a better person.
December Student Of The Month: Anthony!
Anthony Is our Student of the month for December! He has been consistently training hard with a focus you rarely see from a 12 year old. He has started to train with the adult class and is looking to compete in January!
Do you want your child or teen to be healthy and focused individuals? Martial arts has been proven to provide direction for young ones as well as a healthy outlet for physical activities. We offer youth classes that are taught by our national champion instructors. Want to learn more? Contact us today at 310.478.5425 or schedule your free trial class online!