Things I’ve Learned Studying Jiu Jitsu, Lesson 12: The Blue Belt Blues Part 2 – Promotions Don’t Give You New Powers, Sadly

I spent most of my white belt surviving underneath heavier rolling partners, doing a lot of tapping and only catching a tap of my own here and there. The closer I got to blue, I started getting this notion that after I earned my blue, I’d be better at jiu jitsu. I certainly didn’t think there was some secret magic jiu jitsu juju embedded in my new belt, but I did think that maybe I’d start to “get it” better with the new shift in the way I saw myself (no longer a rookie) on the mats. I was mistaken.

I’m still getting my rear handed to me daily by people I’d rather not admit are tapping or drawing with me. My stretchy blue rashguard, the cape of the Blue Belt Super Hero, has failed me. Or rather, I thought I failed it; “Wtf, I still suck? I don’t deserve this belt!” Turns out my coach knows what he’s doing. I don’t suck, I’m just not a very good blue belt yet. And that’s okay. I can take stock of the skills I’ve learned in jits thus far, and an inventory of blue belt super powers are not among those skills.

What exactly is a blue belt supposed look like, anyways? It took me 2.5 years from my first day on the mats to my blue belt. When I was rocking the first stripe on my white belt I sucked. I sucked real bad, but it didn’t matter because at that point I was supposed to suck. A couple weeks before my blue belt test I was on fire on the mats! Tapped folks I never thought I’d tap and saw opportunities for the catch I’d normally miss. Am I consistently like that? No. But that’s not the point. I was much better with 4 stripes on my white belt than I was when I only had 1. It follows that ranks are spectrums, and I really shouldn’t be beating myself up for feeling inadequate as a new blue belt. I’m really just a very good white belt who’s growing into her new blue shirt. I suppose this is the onset of the Blue Belt Blues, and it’s totally normal. I really didn’t level up when I got my blue belt, my coach just acknowledged my achievements so far.