Apr 042012

Here’s a question that was posed by Prof. Giva Santana:

You rather be that blue belt that everyone gives you compliments and says you should be a purple?
Or would you rather be that purple belt that no one says it, but thinks you shouldn’t be it?
I was just wandering….

What do you think? 

I think that they’re often the same person.  I’ve been mulling this over for a while now, and I have decided that what I really think is that it’s easy to be a big fish in a little pond.  I’ve said in class that the perfect rank is four stripe blue belt.  My rationale for that is that there’s really no pressure.  You are expected to know stuff, but you’re also expected to have holes in your game.  You’re on the cusp of purple belt, but aren’t yet required to carry its weight. 

But, you have to grow.  Ultimately, my response was to worry less about the other guys belt. Train more and trust your coach.

  11 Responses to “Question for You”

Comments (9) Pingbacks (2)

    A belt just holds your pants up, right? (ok..maybe not in the BJJ context). I was a quite self-conscious about my blue, especially when visiting other academies. I got promoted in less than 8months on the mat. I’m coming up on two total years training and feel like I’m a “solid” Blue. Long separated from the days of White, but still have quite a journey ahead to get Purple. I like it here. A LOT.


    I eventually felt ok about my blue. I haven’t reached that point with my purple (it’s been a little over a year now since I got promoted), but hopefully I’ll get there in future. I expect it’s going to take a loooong time before it feels comfortable.

    I tend to agree that 4 stripe blue was therefore a more pleasant experience, as there was less pressure. Then again, I might well say I liked being a purple once I get my brown. I liked being a white just after I got my blue, after all.


    Dear Giva Santana, I think we should cusp of purple belt. Because of I like to carry it. Thanks for interesting sharing :)


    I honestly don’t care much about my belt. But I would rather be the blue belt who was competing and winning in the purple belt division at tournaments.


      That’s the way to do it. Thanks for the comment.


        I’d pick the blue belt for me and my friend, for two ronaess. But first let me say that your comment about not becoming friends with your instructor is a false dichotomy. If the guy wasn’t someone I wanted to hang-out with and become friends, why would I want to be with him all those hours on the mat?So, why the blue belt?First, most people have no ambition to be Mundial champions so they have no need for a black belt coach. The black belt will have survivor’s bias it makes me think of Suzuki’s quote; In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. The most important things in Jiu-Jitsu can’t be taught anyway, that’s why it takes ten years to get a black belt. You have to be on the mat for thousands of hours to get that feel. That’s the only measurable different between the blue and black belts anyway. It not how many moves they know, it’s this abstract feel of when to use those moves. Even a native English speaking black belt couldn’t convey that.Second is price. A blue belt instructor would be significantly cheaper than a black belt. And if this is something I’m committing to for the long-haul, the difference will mean thousands of dollars. And thousands of dollars extra for what? Something that can’t be conveyed, something that can only be experienced?Talk to any high level player and they’ll all say the same thing. After the first six months on the mat they learned more from their training partners than from their instructors. Knowing this I often wonder why there aren’t more garage training groups.Everything else being equal (facility, location) I’d send my friend to the blue belt and I’d go with him.


    Very intriguing question you have posed. I often think about this myself. Last summer after returning from Hawaii, I was promoted to purple belt. I had wanted it so badly. I recall seeing most others quit on their way from white to blue and then not stick around for purple. I couldn’t believe it. I had been training bjj for just over 5 years when I got my purple and then add in like 10 years of wrestling.

    You know what I became one of those quitters! Well not entirely quit but my attendance has gone way down since then and I have been unable to get back onto the same track of dedication. What I found was that there is a distinction at my gym between the hobbyists, the competitors, and the come once a month guys. I am a hobbyist – I love it, I try to train 3-5 times per week, etc. The competitor guys I think took it as an affront when I got promoted to purple after not competing for a year or so. The weeks that followed my promotion were rough. I had mma fighters coming over to the mats to try and destroy the new purple, larger, younger, larger blue belt competitors were trying to show that they too should be purples. It became no fun, like every night was a tournament for me. And I hate losing so it was no good for a bit there. I credit that to the wrestling.

    That question of yours is too tough to answer. If I had to pick I’d choose the purple, at least that way you can show people you deserve it.


      I can really relate to what you’re saying, Steve. We just have to remember that this is fun. That’s what it’s all about. I’m not looking for fame or fortune or anything like that. I’m looking to get some exercise and hang out with guys I like to be around.

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