Within the BJJ community, it’s a pretty known fact that blue belts often quit at this rank at a much higher rank than many of the other belts in Jiu Jitsu. For a variety of reasons many BJJ students that end up quitting when they are blue belts.
Some people call this the blue belt blues and we’re going to break down what exactly that is. We’ll list everything that gets a blue belt to feel the blue belt blues and tips for overcoming it.
What Exactly Is the Blue Belt Blues?
The blue belt blues is a term coined to describe what a variety of blue belts go through when they train BJJ for a while but don’t seem to get better. At some point these Blue Belts seem to lose their fire, really losing interest and passion for Jiu Jitsu. There’s a lot of different factors that could lead to this feeling in blue belts.
It could be because they feel like they aren’t progressing or had preconceived notions about getting a blue belt shattered. Or maybe with getting a new blue belt, they thought they wouldn’t lose anymore only to find out there’s a whole other level out there!
Whatever the reason might be, the Blue Belt Blues is serious! Its enough to make even the most passionate student who trained diligently as a white belt, only to quit shortly after they get the Blue!
BJJ Belts And Progression
There’s nothing like getting a new belt in BJJ. You really do feel like all of your hard work is paying off and you’re finally starting to progress.
Depending on how frequently you train, it usually takes the average student around 8-10 years to earn a black belt in Jiu Jitsu.
Time tables are different for everyone, but they tend to look something like this. 1-2 years for blue, 3-4 years to purple, same for brown belt, and 1-3 for a black belt.
The Blue belt is an extra special promotion as it’s the first of the colored belts. Getting your blue belt really is the first stepping stone in your BJJ journey. As a white belt it can easily get discouraging getting dominated every time you step into the mats. Getting that first one will really give you that excellent feeling of accomplishment.
Once you get that blue though, you might really feel like you’ve made it! You are now able to keep up with the other Blue Belts that used to beat you down. But then it hits you. Come to find out that those same Blue Belts may have been going light when you were still a white belt. You find out that even within the Blue Belt rank there’s a vast range of levels within this belt alone let alone the upper belts that come after that.
It hits a lot of them so hard it makes a lot of them quit. One thing that makes blue belt the hardest is you generally stay at this belt the longest. This is the belt, where you start to form a game and the process can be stressful. You’ll have highs and some really low lows that make many blue belts quit.
Reasons Why Blue Belts Quit BJJ
There’s a variety of reasons why blue belts tend to quit BJJ. We certainly can’t name all of them but here are some of the top list of reasons why blue belts quit before having the chance to progress further in their BJJ journey.
False Sense Of Confidence
At white belt, a blue belt may feel like they are really good. They were the best white belt, so assuredly they’ll also be one of the best blue belts right?
In most cases it never really happens that way. Most of the time you’re just another new blue belt that regularly gets beat by the higher belts. You might also come to find out that there are a whole bunch of other blue belts that are at another level. This can shatter the confidence of a new blue belt leading to the blue belt blues. It’s almost like starting from the bottom all over again!
Their self esteem and pride is hurt and for some blue belts it’s hard to overcome. The blue belt blues hits them hard and pretty soon, they’re gone!
Bad Training Days
Some blue belts also just hit a streak of bad training days. Maybe they’re just not getting the technique or getting beat by everyone. And sometimes that could include white belts that sometimes get the better of them.
Many blue belts aren’t mentally prepared to deal with these streak of bad training days. It can break their confidence so badly that they won’t want to train anymore and quit altogether!
It can really be discouraging all things considered. But everyone has bad days even the upper belts. This streak of bad beats will leave BJJ practitioners feeling that they have plateaued.
Having these bad training days can also lead to imposter syndrome within blue belts. They are working hard, but they still feel like a beginner. Sometimes it can feel like they don’t deserve the belt tied around their waist.
Getting beat by everyone from purple belts to white belts with only a few months of training can really shatter someone’s ego. Negative thoughts start swimming in their minds, leaving the sense of incompetence and a first ride ticket to Blue Belt Blues central!
The blue belt blues and stagnation go hand in hand. You see everyone else advancing and you’re staying the same.
Your usual moves that worked has stopped working! Everyone else is adding on new tools to their games, while yours hasn’t worked the last few times training. Feeling like you’re not advancing will make any BJJ student quit – Blue Belts especially!
Lack of Motivation
Lack of motivation is another reason why blue belts quit and happens for a number of reasons. It could be because you’re losing to everyone, stagnation, or bored with your training.
If you do the same things everyday and just go through the motions it will definitely affect that fire! You start losing your motivation to train, and one day you may decide not to train at all!
Getting the blue belt blues may actually have nothing to do with how you’re training. You may just get hit with the injury drug and be forced on the shelf for an extended period of time.
During this time of the blue blue belt blues may hit you hard. It can lead to BJJ students getting depressed due to the lack of training. This really does take a toll on you if you let it. Being unable to train for so long, you may also lose interest after so long. Even after the injury heals, some don’t ever come back after such a long hiatus.
Other times blue belts quit is because their personal lives consume everything and they don’t have the time to train. Whether it be work, family, or a new girlfriend this interruption in training. Much like anything else, as these distractions become seemingly impossible to neglect, that passion does start to die slowly – putting you in that Blue Belt Blues funk.
Tips To Overcome The Blue Belt Blues
Here are things to remember when you get the blue belt blues and tips to overcome it.
Be Okay With Losing
This sounds weird, but in BJJ you have to set your pride aside and be okay with losing. It is all part of the process in Jiu Jitsu.
Especially as a lower belt. It is your job to lose and learn from it. Through losing some matches, you learn and grow from your mistakes, making you that much better in the long run.
So what, you can’t beat that brown belt or you got surprised by the white belt wrestler? This happens and you just have to dust yourself off and try again. Don’t get yourself stuck in that losing mentality. This can really set you up for failure and get you stuck in the Blue Belt Blues rut.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
One sure way to get the blue belt blues is to start comparing yourself to others. When you see your training partner getting better while you seem to stay in the same spot, that can be overwhelming.
An important thing you have to learn in Jiu JItsu is never compare yourself to others. Your Jiu Jitsu journey is your own and different from everyone elses. Enjoy the process and keep training.
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Are you better than you were a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago? Likely the answer is yes to at least one of these. Even if you are only getting 1% better each time you train, you are that much closer to becoming a better Blue Belt and soon a Purple Belt!
Change Your Gameplan
Usually a blue belt has one move and if it gets shut down they have nothing else. They’ll keep trying to do the same things and eventually get sick of losing or bored of training. This is why it is always a good idea to change up your game plan.
Changing your gameplan can breathe new life into your Jiu Jitsu game. If you start feeling like you are getting stagnant or bored – change it up! Try picking up a position or technique and train every facet of it. Or maybe change your entire gameplan altogether!
If you start on top try working a guard game or if you’re a guard player start doing guard passing. Essentially you’ll start to become a whole new grappler and add new levels to your game.
Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated and a great cure for the blue belt blues. If you want to keep having good training sessions you have to stay motivated and goal setting is a great option.
It doesn’t matter how big or little as long as you have a goal in mind to make you keep going. Your goal could be big like winning an upcoming tournament or something small like hitting a sweep you’re working on.
There’s no goal too big or small as long as it keeps you motivated to train and get better.
Remember, the Blue Belt Blues is simply a phase in your BJJ career. In Jiu Jitsu, there will be times where you get down on yourself and not feel like training. The important thing is that you persevere and learn from this time.
Sometimes its okay to take a step back and reestablish your game plan. BJJ is a process and there will be a lot of good times and a few bad times. It is all a learning experience and as long as you keep trying you'll get better.
Learn to spot these signs of the blue belt blues before you become a statistic and stop your training. Then try using some of the tips listed to overcome it to keep you enjoying training BJJ. Remember, you only fail if you quit! Keep on training and keep on learning! Oss!