If you are a new student in BJJ, you might be wondering what it takes to earn that coveted blue belt! A common misconception is that a blue belt is earned by “beating” all the other white belts in the gym or “proving” oneself by rolling hard with everyone. In fact nothing could be farther from the truth. Earning a BJJ blue belt is not about beating other people up or being a “beast” on the mats. Instead, there are three main goals one should accomplish before promotion to the blue belt rank.
A BJJ blue belt indicates knowledge of the fundamental movements and concepts in Jiu Jitsu. A blue belt should have a basic understanding of how to play guard, pass the guard, maintain and attack from mount, back, and side control, defend submissions and escape from bad positions. Note that good defense is as important as offense! More importantly, a blue belt should be able to stay calm even in bad positions and work through technique instead of panicking. The only way to get comfortable with being in bad positions is to practice them. This is why the goal in training is never to “beat” everyone. In fact, you should spend as much time training from bad positions as from good ones. The goal is to develop a well-rounded game.
The mark of a BJJ blue belt is the ability to be a good training partner. Coaches view blue belts as the students they can pair up with any inexperienced white belt and know the blue belt will take good care of them. Simply put: blue belts know how to train calmly and safely, even with very inexperienced partners. A blue belt understands how to use technique and stay calm; blue belts do not “spaz out”. They also know how to set the intensity of a roll to be appropriate for a less experienced training partner. Blue belts are mentors to the new students in a gym, and should always set a good example in the way they train.
Perhaps the deepest meaning of the blue belt is a symbol of dedication to the art of Jiu Jitsu. This is why it’s rare to see anyone promoted to blue belt with less than at least a year of training. Even if a student is naturally gifted at BJJ, they must put in the time on the mats. When professors promote students, they are looking for both time and consistency in training. Alternating training hard for a few months with disappearing from the dojo for months at a time is not the road to a blue belt. Neither is over-training so that constant injuries keep you from staying on the mats consistently. The journey of Jiu Jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint. The way to earn a blue belt is to stay dedicated and keep showing up!
Roxana Safipour is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach at Easton Arvada.