Your Belt is Earned, Not Just Given to You

I’m not entirely sure if anyone else gets this same speech before or during belt promotions. People will receive stripes or belt changes, and every so often there is a reminder that belts are earned, not just given to you. Yes, it is a coach/professor/instructor who is in the middle of the act of giving something to you,  but you in fact earned that belt.

It was not gifted to you, regardless of how you feel about your skill level at that time. Your blood, your sweat, your tears, your time spent on the mat are all why you earned that belt. Your growth in technical skills, and sometimes even growth in your emotional maturity have gotten you to this point.

That being said, you would think I would be someone who would promote letting your instructors know when you think you are ready to go to the next level, but I’m not. I am someone who believes that your instructor will be the one to promote you when it is time: it sounds contradictory, I know, but there is a method to the madness. While instructors are invested in your progress, they aren’t as “in the weeds” as you are. It’s sort of like the person that weighs themselves ever day or even multiple times a day, versus say reporting to a personal trainer once a week. You will see all kinds of fluctuations in your weight throughout the day or week: you drank more liquids one day, you had a super light meal another…the list could go on and on. There are all kinds of reasons that would lead to all kinds of changes in a relatively short period of time. The personal trainer on the other hand, may see some fluctuation but overall (in a perfect world) would see a somewhat steady progression towards the end result.

The same thing with jiu jitsu: there are classes and training sessions where we feel like we’re on top of the world, and then possibly in the same week we all feel like we’re training like garbage. Most coach or instructors- while they are invested in your progress- they are not keeping a scorecard for all the times you rolled. By and large a coach will be looking for overall progress as a way to determine if you are ready for the next belt. Granted, I’m speaking about the majority and there will always be unusual outliers- also progress can mean different things to different people, both in terms of the student and the instructor, which admittedly can occasionally lead you to scratching your head in wondering why one person was promoted while another wasn’t.

Ultimately, I would just wrap this up by saying that when it is time for you to receive your promotion, whether it’s a stripe or a belt change, that it is something that you have certainly earned.

Have a great day everyone!

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