The Colored Belts Pitfall
I'm going to do something against the rules. I will disagree with Rickson Gracie. Bear with me!
In discussion with Gracie Mag, Rickson Gracie explained that the "blue belt was the toughest belt to get". He said: "In order to become a blue-belt, you need to know about everything in the sport. [...]You have become a creature of BJJ. [...]What is missing in the athlete after the blue belt is practice and reflexes. [...]They have all they need to get to black. They just need to keep at it."
Link to the interview at the end
If I agree that the blue belt is the toughest to get, I believe a blue belt lacks a lot more than just practice and reflexes. I'll argue that Rickson's statement leads to a deadly pitfall that many colored belts fall into! Let's talk!
THE STATE OF THE GAME
Over the last decade, we saw many new systems coming to light. Today, to be a high-level player, you need to be up to date with the game's current state.
That's where I see a problem with Rickson Gracie's point of view. I know many brown/black belts who have been doing the same thing for ten years. They just practice the game they have since their blue belt. The sad truth? They're not that good.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Indeed there are black belts who use "basic" games. You might know Roger Gracie, the greatest Jiu-Jitsu player ever, who beat everyone using a deceptively simple game. From the outside, one would think that any blue belt knows the techniques he used.
Do not be fooled! To shut down your opponents' game, you need to know what they are doing. And if you're going to use a "basic" game against black belts, I assure you that the details you need are nowhere near the blue belt level.
The pitfall is not to expand your game as you should because you stay in your comfort zone. The pitfall is to keep doing the same thing over and over again. The pitfall is to wake up years after, realizing that you're just not as good as you should be.
Now, what should you do?
THE WHITE BELT MENTALITY
The central idea is simple. You need to keep learning like a white belt, forever. But like a lot of simple solutions, it's challenging to implement.
Why so many fail to do it? Because your ego is holding you down! Because you want to dominate! You spent months and months getting rolled over. Naturally, you want your payback! And you want it so bad that you'll do anything you can to have it. As a result, you take the least amount of risk possible. Unfortunately, it leads to keeping playing your A-game without developing new skills.
The truth is, no one cares about your gym rolls. No one. It doesn't matter. Winning that roll on a Wednesday evening against Billy Joe III is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is to become better. Ultimately you will be remembered for the level you will achieve, not because you're "undefeated" against beginners.
EXPANDING YOUR REPERTOIRE
One of the keys to becoming better is to increase your repertoire. First, you need to study. There is no way around it. Listen to your coach and do your homework: FlowCharts, instructionals... whatever works for you. Then, grab a blue belt, and practice that new system.
That's where you need to put your ego aside. You're going to struggle against that guy you usually dominate, but that's ok! It's part of the process, and remember: no one cares!
By training outside your comfort zone, you'll see real progress quickly. And if you keep doing that, eventually, you'll be much better than you thought you could be!
We saw the deadly pitfall of not expanding your repertoire after the blue belt; why you should keep your white belt mentality forever; and why Rickson Gracie is, ultimately, wrong about this ;)
Link to the interview: https://www.graciemag.com/en/2016/12/31/rickson-gracie-the-toughest-belt-to-get-in-bjj/
If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or if you just wanna chat, send me an email or a message on Instagram @maxigarami, and I'll be more than happy to talk with you and to hear your feedback.