Jiu Jitsu is the greatest thing that anyone can discover. It is a sport that changes who you are to the very core of your being. A big part of jiu-jitsu is the natural progression you get to see in yourself and your game over time. BJJ belt ranking are a way for gyms to create a structured hierarchy but they represent much more than just that. When getting started or even while being at it for years it is always important to be reminded that we must seek progress over the external validation we get from getting ranked up fast.
BJJ Belt Ranking
Ranking up in BJJ is a big deal and is an awesome way to show physical progress. It is a good feeling when you can look back on your belts and have a physical piece of evidence of the work you put in.
Progress over External Validation
One of the larger jiu-jitsu practitioners on the internet had an awesome perspective on progressing through the sport. The caption on the Instagram post from Chewjitsu went like this:
“The belt is just to keep your pants up and your gi closed, right?
Here are some ideas to chew on.
Napoleon famously said, “A soldier will fight long and
hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”
Ernest Becker said that humans live in the world of
symbols and that much of our identity is wrapped up in
The title you get when you get a job promotion. It’s a
symbol to represent the real work you do.
The ring I wear around my finger is a cheap silicone
symbol of a very real bond with my wife.
The mouth noises you associate with your first name are
just a symbol. 1 probably used by many others.
You get the idea
The belt is more than just a piece of cotton dyed in a
particular color. It’s a symbol that represents very real
The bond with your coach. Your hard work. Injuries and
obstacles you overcame. The ability to be consistent
with something and not quit, like so many others,
And that my friend, is a symbol worth being proud of,
and something we all find meaningful.
The key is not to make it your only focus.”
The key to all of this is to focus on the journey and let the other things play out. If you get caught up in just trying to rank up to say you have a colored belt, you will inevitably hit a wall that may be hard to overcome.
The belts are a very important part of jiu-jitsu. It represents very real things that each person should be proud of.
When did you decide to start going to a jiu-jitsu gym what was your reasoning? This reason could have shifted over time just like ours. Whenever we find ourselves starting to focus on the external part too much we always look back at the reasons why we started in the first place.