What is the difference between a blue belt and a purple belt in BJJ? Many well-respected black belt instructors will tell you that a modern day blue belt has more or less all the tools she needs to become really good at grappling. Learning more and more BJJ techniques is no longer the number one goal, but rather getting good at what you already know. How do we do that? We practice. We put in the hours on the grappling mats. That is hardly a secret. What you do on those sacred mats, however, is up to you. How and how much you dedicate yourself to your grappling journey is all you. Your instructor or coach can guide you and show the way, but you always have to put in the graft yourself. Think about the following for starters:
If you waste 3-4 minutes of every BJJ session this could mean the difference between being a blue belt and a purple belt in BJJ!
Here is the maths.
Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of learning from a fantastic teacher and experienced martial artist Mr John Will, 4th degree BJJ black belt and head of Will / Machado BJJ Australasia. In his seminar, he taught the foundations of the guard as taught to him in 4 private sessions by the founder of BJJ Helio Gracie back in 1987. He also taught us many attacks from the omoplata position and from the side mount position but the true gems were not the particular techniques but rather the delivery style and wisdom he shared.
Just before we commenced drilling the first technique he showed us, John helped us invest in our BJJ future by paying attention to our present:
"Don't waste time on the mat. Don't dilly-dally! If you waste time you are building a terrible and costly habit. Here's an example:
If you waste 3 -4 minutes* per hour of BJJ, and you train an average of 4 hours per week (2 x 2 hour sessions, for instance) then over the span of, say, 6 years of training you would have wasted the equivalent of five to six and a half months of BJJ training! That could easily be the difference between being ready for a purple belt and remaining a blue belt"
It's not too uncommon to hear that someone is close but not quite there yet.
I have on occasion heard an instructor tell a BJJ student she is 4 or 5 months out. That doesn't necessarily just mean "train hard for 4-5 months and you'll be ready" but rather I now understand that that could mean "by applying yourself to training and not wasting 3-4 minutes** per session you can break this time-wasting habit and reap the rewards"
If you are an instructor, I invite you to echo John's wise words at your next session and see the change in your athlete's eyes, then drop by and let us know how it went.
*I don't remember the exact figures John used but I did the maths myself (based on a 50-week training year) and it adds to the ratio of 5 months of grappling for every 3 minutes regularly wasted.
**3 - 4 minutes is very easy to waste! Arriving 2 minutes late, taking 30 seconds longer water break and chatting to your training partner 3 x 10sec when you should be drilling and voila! Bye Bye Purple belt!
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
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