For the first time, I had a student ask me(more like complained) why he didn’t get a blue belt at our promotion ceremony. I was taken back by it, almost felt a little disrespected. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or even tell the guy to pack sand and train elsewhere. It was difficult for me to understand. Perhaps it’s because I have NEVER asked my instructors about any of my promotions.
Both Cowboy and myself preach many philosophies we have been taught through the years at Gracie Tampa. One of those things is not to worry about the color of your belt. Your jiu jitsu skill-set is obvious the moment you step on the mats. One of Royce Gracie’s most notable quotes is, “A belt only covers two inches of your ass. You are responsible for the rest.” It is fitting that our instructor, Rob Kahn, is among a group of his 1st black belts.
I’ve had 2 weeks to process it, I think it was a good thing. This provided me a time for self-reflection, it also allowed me to grow as a person and as an instructor. It helped me realize that people are different, and handle things in different ways.
So, is it ok to ask your instructor about your belt promotion? Yes and no. Would I ever ask? Hell no, but that is me. At the end of the day, students are paying to learn BJJ, they are the consumer. IT IS ALL IN THE APPROACH AND SINCERITY.
If a student asks me, “How do you think I am doing? What do I need to work on to reach my *insert belt color*?” I will gladly help them out. I roll with/watch my guys roll every day. I know their strengths and things they need to work on. Cowboy and I discuss the progression of our students after almost every class. We take a great deal of pride in every single one of our students, except Denny & Fritzy. Screw you guys! I kid, I kid hahaha
If a student approaches me and says:
“When am I getting my *insert belt color*?”
“Why was I left out of the promotion ceremony. I’m definitely *insert belt color* level.”
“I’m better than *teammate that was just promoted*.”
I am less inclined to help them out, whatever I say to them will just be met with a rebuttal. And will more than likely escalate into an argument.
Be happy for your training partners when they get promoted, they earned it. There are few things that compare to the feeling of receiving a promotion in BJJ. Who are you to minimize that day for them by your own insecurities?
In summary, who f#ckin cares what color your belt is! Go train. Attend as many classes as your schedule permits. Roll, roll, and roll some more. And when you are done, roll some more. Don’t be concerned with winning every drill or every roll. Try new techniques, even if it puts you in a compromising position. Experiment with different setups, different timing. Roll some more. Grow your jiu jitsu. It’s ok to laugh or talk sh!t when you are training! And most importantly, HAVE FUN!!! Enjoy your journey.