That’s me going through the gauntlet on grading day.

Stop chasing the belt: on comparison

I first started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) four years ago. The journey to my current ranking, blue belt, was long, strenuous and emotional. My instructor, Master Steve Lin, of Lin Martial Arts would end each class with a short life lesson. There was one in particular that stood out that I didn’t fully comprehend until recently. The lesson being, as a student, you should stop chasing the belt.

Every few months on the last Thursday, students would show up for grading day (or promotions). These days are usually the busiest at the gym. When I started out as a white belt, I paid a lot of attention to grading day. Something unhealthy was happening when I started comparing myself to other students and watched them getting their belts ahead of me. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t notice or that I didn’t feel jealous or envious.

It wasn’t until later that I started to learn that my own progression had nothing to do with the color of my belt or of the level of my fellow students. I realized then, that I had to stop chasing the belt and start focusing on my own skill and attitude, while enjoying the experience. After all, what is a belt anyways? It’s a piece of cloth. It means nothing unless you put in the work, improve your skills and focus on yourself. Plus, how would you feel if you received a belt and didn’t think you deserved it?

I see many people at the gym who show up just for grading day. It’s a strange phenomena that most of us want the recognition but we forget about the work required to get there. After four years of training I finally earned my blue belt. Again, I can’t lie by pretending it was no big deal but as I progress now, the days are gone where I compare myself to my classmates or even yearn for my next belt. Instead, I focus on what needs to be done, I train, and I work hard, knowing that it will pay off eventually. I encourage you do to the same, and stop chasing the belt. In time, it will come.