How Belts Hinder Your BJJ?
How important is your belt for actually improving your BJJ? Originally Belts were invented as a skill analysis system for an instructor to be able to understand a students level of skill acquisition. Now there is far more status attributed to Belts in BJJ and far too much importance placed on your next belt.
Let's breakdown why focusing on attainment of anything is negatively affecting your BJJ.
Progress is Process. This may sound like an over simplified cliche but it is the truth of any skill development. The process or routine you have for practicing a skill and then using it as part of your BJJ game is the most important part of Improving. Focusing on the end goal often distracts from what needs to be done on a weekly and daily basis. If you really want to get better at Jiu-jitsu look at what you are doing everyday and evaluate- are my actions moving me forward?
Not all Belts are Created Equal. You look at the line of senior belts at the front of the class all wearing different belts. All of those people may have trained similar amounts of time but none of them are the same. The amount of personal, physical and mental challenge that they had to over come to achieve their rank is completely different.They may be the best in world or just a battle harden gym warrior on their 5th year at purple belt. The truth is the belt is a distraction from what is actually important, your own level and executing your game to the best of your ability.
The New Belt Slump. You have just been promoted! You have worked your tail off to be as good as you can be, been at every class, every open mat, drilling regularly and competing. Then a couple weeks after you achieve the goal you hit a slump. This is common in the BJJ community because what you did in a mad frenzy to achieve the goal isn't sustainable. You got your prize and now you have reduced your effort just to be able to bounce back, which is fair enough. Understand what got you here won't get you there. In order to keep progressing all the way through your BJJ journey your approach to training needs to be sustainable for many years not just a few months.
Keeping Up Appearances. It is now socially accepted that you will always let people know exactly what you are doing all the time. If you don't post it, did it even really happen? The truth letting everyone know what you are doing doesn't improve your process. The process of learning requires mistakes, which leads to real improvement. Keeping up appearances requires always showing our good side and hiding our mistakes. Ask yourself are you trying to grow a Flower or to grow a Tree. Flowers will grow reasonably quickly, have shallow roots, require a lot of attention, resources and special conditions. They bloom, they're beautiful but then they fade and die in a matter of days. Trees grow very slowly, develop deep roots, require small but consistent amounts of water and a little attention. It's hard to tell when they are developing until you look back and a year has gone by and they are standing strong, built to keep growing for years to come.
Everything and Nothing. What a belt means to you with all your blood, sweat, injuries, surgeries and tears = Everything! What your belt means to anyone else= Nothing. Though you may share your knowledge and skills with others to help them on their journey no one will truly understand what it means for you to achieve what you have. Yes belts mean everything but they also mean nothing. This is the achievement paradox of BJJ. Your ability to consistently show up willing to improve is really what means more than any belt around your waist and that is a choice.