The more I think about this idea, the cooler it gets to me. I know sometimes people worry that they’re not keeping up with their teammates, that they might get stuck “forever” at white belt or blue belt, that they’re just not progressing, or that they’re a sucky blue belt.

To those people, I say “Awesome – IF you stick with it.” Given enough time, everyone will make it to black belt. I firmly believe this, and have been told by my instructor’s master. Let’s take that as a given for this blog post, regardless of your personal feelings about that. And that means that the longer you take, the worse you are now, the more epic your story will be. The two ends of the bell curve flat out make for a more interesting narrative.

Length of Time

Memorable black belts are those who earned them either extremely fast or extremely slow. I’m equally as impressed with someone who got their black belt in 4 years as I am with someone who got their black belt in 20 years. No, strike that, I’m more impressed with the person who took 20 years.

How long it takes to get a black belt in BJJ

This is my black belt of awesomeness.

The 20-years-to-black-belt person stuck with it despite the odds. This person wasn’t naturally gifted or didn’t have the time that those around him did. As others were getting promoted, he was just slowly plugging away at it. The 20-years-to-black-belt person is the one I look up to because I feel like they’re a role model to me – someone I can personally identify with, and someone I would feel honored to know.

Amount of Suckage

The suckier you are now, the more people who tap you, the longer it takes you to learn, the more impressive your story will be. I mean, how many times have I referred to the fact that when I started I couldn’t do a forward roll, I was 205 lbs, etc. I have a really cool starting story – far more impressive than the guys who were somewhat athletic, normal weight, were decent at learning jiu jitsu.

Your belt vs shock factor vs how athletically talented you are

The envelope of suckiness – created by Jiu Jiu

As you can see, those who are super, crazy athletically gifted will shock and amaze everyone at white belt. “Did you see that white belt? Look how amazing he is!” And those with little to no talents get stomped, no respect, and work for everything. By the time they get to black belts, those who are super athletically gifted – it’s absolutely no shock they got their black – it’s expected. The guy who’s been eating paste all throughout white blue and purple, is now much more impressive and shocking that he made it all the way to black.

Final thoughts

After you get your black belt, NO ONE will care how long it took to get your blue or if you were a sucky purple belt. If you say “Yes, I was a blue belt for 5 years” they’ll say “wow!” not “holy crap – what was your problem.” My college professor said “Grades only matter when you’re trying to get into graduate school.” His example: Have YOU ever asked your doctor what her GPA was? I sure haven’t. It doesn’t matter. Jiu jitsu is the same way.

So yes, right now it feels sucky if you’ve been “stuck” at your belt level for however long you’ve been there, that everyone is better than you are, that your jiu jitsu stinks. Take heart that the worse you are now, the more epic your narrative will be.

Here is to your epic narrative, my friend!

How epic will your narrative be? Are you on the path to a mediocre story, by way of getting your belt on time? Or are you on one end or the other of the black belt curve?
Are you a phenom on the mats, or are you still eating paste in the corner? Please share!