This month marks my one year anniversary of being promoted to Purple Belt. A bunch of thoughts come to mind in regards to what I thought I would feel at this point versus what I actually feel at Purple Belt: Year One. If you were to asked me, when I got my Blue Belt back in 2013 where I thought I’d be by 2017, it definitely wouldn’t have been here. I thought I would have been closing in on Brown by now. I was eager to move forward as quick as possible, so I had these time tables and bench marks when it came to rank that I wanted to make every year.
To say the least, I’ve dialed that back. A lot actually. I’m more focused on developing myself as a more well rounded representative of Jiu-Jitsu than chasing the promotion itself.
Looking back at my early Blue Belt days, I had the erroneous thought that I actually knew something. Yes, I did know some things but I really didn’t know much. I’ve always been someone who pays attention to details but in perspective, I didn’t know the details of the details. It’s like saying I know that I breath air but not knowing why or how we breath in that air and what happens to it. So in retrospect, I can see why some gym owners refuse to give Blue Belts their own classes to teach. At this stage, it completely makes sense now.
My perspective on patience has also broadened. The race to the next stripe or belt means less to me now at this stage of my training and more importantly my life. That adage of being better than yesterday’s version of you is more at the forefront of how I measure myself. In doing that I’m making smaller weekly goals in order to keep myself focused and motivated.
November also marks six months of being the kids instructor for Gracie Humaita San Diego. When I was offered this position I actually questioned if I would be any good at it. The Kids Program is geared for kids from three to seven years old, which can be intimidating. Their attention spans, temperament, and coordination were all things that worried me. I also second guessed if I had the personality for such a position. It entails public speaking, which I’ve never been comfortable with. While it did take me a few weeks to feel at ease with the role, I think I’ve growing into the kind of instructor that I would want.
I try to keep things as lighthearted as possible without having the class turn into pure chaos. Before we bow in, I asked how they are and what they did during the day. We play a lot of games that help build their technique without them truly realizing it. You have no idea how happy I get when they finally understand how to hip escape or roll properly. I’m often more excited than they are. The rules of my class are a bit relaxed. Before class, I might have a specific technique in mind but the energy of the class may not be where I need it, so sometimes I’ll change things up to something else.
With all this being said, there are some challenging days but Tuesday and Thursdays have quickly become the days I look forward to the most during the week. I love the energy they bring to class. I’ve wanted to work with kids for a while, but the opportunities weren’t always there for me. So, Jiu-Jitsu has afforded me that as a possibility and I really am eternally grateful for it.
I’m embracing more responsibility both officially and unofficially. I’m teaching Kids Class, coaching during competitions, and doing Intro Lessons which brings me out of my comfort zone. As an introvert none of this comes “natural” for me and these are situations that force me to work on how I interact with people and more specifically with those that I don’t know.
Every week, I take it upon myself to help someone out or at the very least offer to answer any questions they may have, either that day or in the future. Sometimes its a regular training partner or someone I gave an intro lesson with. After they’ve joined I try to check in with them and ask how their training is coming along and if they have any questions. Recently one of my regularly training partners told me that they had contemplated quitting Jiu-Jitsu because they felt they hit a brick wall. Hearing that broke my heart because it took me back to when I was in those shoes. It’s a long process. Longer than most people realize and it’s even more difficult when you feel that you’re the only one going through it.
If at all possible, I honestly want to make that part of someone’s journey easier. I want them to know that there are people out there that care about their journey and want to help. Whether that be talking out issues or just taking them under your wink and checking in on them from time to time.
Purple Belt: Year Two – Goals
- Develop a more attacking closed/open guard.
- Cultivate a heavier top game and balance.
- Compete at least twice in the coming year.
- Continue to increase the size of the Kids Class attendance and skill level.
- Continue to work to be a better instructor.
- Write more Jiu-Jitsu articles.