Words from Charleston’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor – Malachy Friedman
Break the Belt Approach: The belt changes color by itself!
I am a big proponent of breaking the belt. When your belt becomes so worn from tying it every day it literally breaks apart, you are on the right track toward promotion. It’s funny how that works. I’m a rational guy 98% of the time, but I know belt metamorphosis to be true. Even if an instructor doesn’t seem in a hurry to promote you, when the time is right, your belt will magically change, much like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a blue belt becomes purple because that is its true nature.
Breaking the Belt and belt metamorphosis are two parallels with the same origin – TRAINING! Train hard! Study Hard! Show up and take honest inventory of your skills every day and work on them over and over. Don’t be jealous of Bill, the higher Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt, who you are neck and neck with on every roll. Stop! His higher belt doesn’t come with a raise nor a company car. At least not in my academy or any academy I have ever been a part of. For whatever reason, your instructor sees something in Bill or you that is different. It could be small details that you don’t even notice that make his transitions cleaner than your own. Very possibly, it’s for your own good. For your maturity perhaps. Maybe your instructor is making you break the belt. Maybe holding you back is growing you stronger every single day. Maybe your instructor sees the fire in your belly, and wants to stoke that to make you an amazing ______ whatever belt. I have held students at white who would be considered amazing blue belts just about anywhere else on the globe. My job as an instructor is not just to develop skills in my students, but grow them as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Students who want to compete on the world stage must be held to incredibly high standards because everyone they will face at Worlds, Pans or Nationals is also being held to that tougher standard. The reality is at major tournaments, you will always meet up with opponents whose coaches have delayed their promotion hoping they could score a win before moving up.
Sometimes it necessary to turn the tables. Maybe you are that guy who has had everything come a bit too easy in life including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If so, then perhaps your instructor sees that struggle is exactly what you’re lacking. You will never become a battle-tested warrior if you have never learned to struggle. How do you know you have the strength to push forward when the going gets tough if you have always been gliding up till now? Maybe you need to experience the ground floor of life’s little hierarchies and with struggle at the lowest rung comes necessary humility.