Belt Jealousy and the Jiu Jitsu Journey

My husband was promoted to purple belt a week ago!  I am very excited and proud of him.  I know how hard he works on and off the mat to be the best he can at jiu jitsu and be a great teammate.  He has always been willing to roll with me and help me with my game even though I’m a lot smaller than him and not as good as him.  I could not have made it this far in jiu jitsu without him.

I also found out that our training partner and friend from seven years ago earned his black belt.  I’m very happy for him as well.  He trained hard and was always thinking about how to improve his game.  He was Evan’s primary training throughout his blue belt and I spent most of my time as a white belt either training with Evan or our now-black-belt friend.

Despite being happy for both of them – I have to admit I’m a little jealous.  I know I shouldn’t be.  They both have been training for years longer than I have.  And their rank has nothing to do with me.  But I feel like I missed out on so much by taking time off.  Yet when I step back I realize that I wouldn’t trade the time off for being a higher rank now.

It feels like I’m holding a bunch of contradictory ideas in my head right now.  On the one hand – I’m really excited for my both of them.  I got to see them both at white belt and they’ve come so far.  They both helped me immensely and you can see their influence in my game.  Their promotions are encouraging because it makes purple and eventually black belt seem attainable.  And I know I am very lucky to have had them both as jiu jitsu mentors.

On the other hand I see how far behind I am.  I started jiu jitsu after both of them and I quit jiu jitsu before my husband did.  I always had fewer training partners than they did because I am a small woman.  I was only back training for six months before I had to take off more time for shoulder surgery.  And I now realize no matter how long or hard I train I will never be as good as either of them.

And on some third hand that came out of nowhere – I realize that I’m kind of lucky.  I’m still a beginner at jiu jitsu.  I still can make all the mistakes and learn as slowly as I need to.  I can take time off an no one expects me to be any good when I come back.  No one really expects anything of my jiu jitsu.

The transition to purple belt has been easier for Evan than the transition to blue belt but he’s still expected to know things and be at a certain level.  And I imagine there are different pressures and expectations at the black belt level.  Right now – I still get rewarded for progress and I am not expected to know much.  I still have 3 belts and ten stripes to earn!  If I keep training hard, have a good attitude, and continue to learn – I get another stripe.  At the black belt level no one gives you a pat on the back for continuing to train.

So as a blue belt I get to keep making mistakes.  I am still discovering jiu jitsu.  There are some positions I have never even tried while rolling.  I still have so much to learn and that a pretty exciting place to be.

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