Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Being a blue belt is just like being a teenager.

I know this is not a novel concept but it really jumped into my mind tonight during class and after, so I wanted to share.

Adolescents are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. They often appear self-centered, completely convinced that their experience is unique and that no one really understands, especially parents or older people. They're trying out new identities, experimenting with trends, exploring values and learning about peer pressure.

If white belts are children, eagerly learning everything, slightly spazzy, full of boundless enthusiasm yet needing lots of guidance and supervision, then blue belts are the teenagers of jits. I base this on personal experience, intending no slam on other blues. Maybe I should be saying "I am going through my teenage years again" except that I hear this stuff from other blues, too.

I hear lots of other blues (and whites, and even purples) talk about the difficulties they experience as they grow and develop, and their problems sound familiar, but I'm pretty sure their experiences are nothing like mine (I'm not as coordinated! I'm weaker! Smaller! Definitely less disciplined, lower quality practice time, enjoy rolling too much and don't focus and concentrate enough.. etc. ad nauseum.) No one else really understands, because even other gals are bigger, stronger, lower bodyfat, more physically talented, progressed faster, didn't blow off triangles at the start of their experience, and so on.

People say "build your game around what you're best at" but hey, I haven't a clue what I'm best at 'till I try it all. So this month it's foot on bicep; maybe last month it was closed guard and before that, get on top and screw fighting from the back. This month I'm best at armbars, of all crazy damn things.. but next month when everyone is used to me doing that, I'll suck again (just like I suck at ezequiels now that people see them coming a mile away.) I'm trying out different identities left and right, imitating the "cool kids" at my school or on the world jits stage. What game are the smaller guys playing? how do they get away with all their coolness without getting smashed? I wanna be like them! And whatever I just learned is the sweetest thing since sliced bread, and will continue to be so, until I learn the next sweet thing.

And peer pressure. It's sometimes hard to discern what will work for me from what works great for the brown belt who's built like a linebacker, or even what works for the white belt guy who's six inches taller than me. I want to incorporate all of everyone's techniques into my game, but really, I have to weed through stuff. I can just hear my mom, "If so-and-so jumped off the Empire State Building, would you?"

I keep remembering reading (somewhere, out there, on the boundless internet no doubt) that you will never profit by comparing your own learning curve and progress with that of others. I think it's really true. Just keep plugging along, do your best, stay out of trouble...


Meerkatsu said...

Umm, so a brown belt must be going through a mid-life crisis before retirement and leisurely pursuits beckon come the day you get black belt.
Nice post.

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

You must be having fun though, you go to hella lot of classes.

Scott said...

Nice post. Next time you come to me with a gimmicky move I'm going to tell you to "grow up". :)

Donald summed up what being a Black Belt is like very well for me last night and I think it goes along with your analogy (which works very well, btw):

He basically said being a black belt was intimidating because he knew how much he didn't know.

Jadon Ortlepp said...

I compare my present self (in terms of grappling ability) to my past self. If present self can beat up past self (say a month ago) then we have progress!.