It is a cliche of martial arts that many practitioners say “I don’t care about belts!”. Their point is valid: your training should primarily be about having fun and acquiring skills.
Read also: A Few Words on Belt Promotions
The term “belt chaser” is a negative one and denotes someone who has the wrong training priorities and unduly focuses on the next promotion. But the stripe / belt system has significant benefits to to students.
Yet another often-used phrase in bjj training is the metaphor of training as a journey, with all of its ups and downs, obstacles and triumphs. Few of us have not suffered some of these periods where just getting to class seems like a struggle.
But all of that is erased in an instant when your professor calls you up to the front of the class to add a new stripe to your belt.
If you have been attending class regularly, your professor recognizes your improvement.
At times you have felt frustrated and wondered if you were making any progress at all…you look down at your new promotion and can see a tangible sign of your positive progress!
“Now that I am a 4th stripe, I really need to improve my open guard! Get out those instructional DVDs”
“I am SO close to my blue / purple / brown belt now! No more fooling around. Time to get serious!”
“I got my first stripe!!! I am no longer a newbie!”
“I have to be worthy of my new rank because all of the other students in the academy who have same rank are really good!”
“That’s it! No more McDonalds after training! I have to eat better!”
“I promise myself that I will run / lift weights / do yoga each week to help my bjj!”
Whatever form that new motivation takes, you feel more positive about your bjj practice, ready to tie up your belt and get back on the mat with a renewed determination and enthusiasm for your jiu-jitsu training.
Congrats on your new stripe..now go train!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan