by Patrish Murphy
I wanted my blue belt so badly. I strived for it in every class. I’d hold my breath when my
Professor got the tape. It was all I focused on. The tape didn’t really mean anything except I was
one step closer to changing the color around my hips. I won’t lie, getting that belt felt like a huge
accomplishment and it was. I’d never take away from a promotion. It’s a big deal. But I’ve
learned more in my time at blue. You shouldn’t wish a belt away.
If blue belt me could go back and talk to white belt me, I would tell her to enjoy it more.
You will never be that much of a beginner ever again. I’d tell her to relax and be patient. To
listen intently from the higher belts and absorb the information thrown at you. I know it seems
overwhelming but it’s going to make sense. I’d say you don’t always have to be the best. You
don’t always have to look good. You can pick one thing to work on instead of trying to handle
everything all at once. When you pick that one thing you’re going to mess up. Like a lot. But that
is part of learning. It’s a meticulous act of repetition seeing where you are going wrong. You
need to recognize the weaker points of your game more than you do the strong parts. Work on
them. Keep working on them. Even if it means you keep getting passed, swept, or submitted.
Don’t compare yourself to your training partners. Each of you is on your own path and it’s going
to look different. There are going to be people you think will never leave your side on this
journey, but they do. That’s okay. You are doing Jiu-Jitsu for you. But I also promise there are
those who never leave. Those who will continue to clap as you succeed. You’re going to figure
out who they are. Stop. Wishing. Your. Belt. Away.
Now, you’re at blue and you wish you understood it at white. Each belt holds meaning and
purpose. Those pieces of tape aren’t just markers closer to your next belt. They aren’t tallies to
be checked off. They’re the time and work you’ve put in. They’re gold medals you’ve won and hard losses you’ve had. They’re new tricks in your toolbox. They’re memories. They’re subtle reminders of the progress you’ve made. They’re a nod from your Professor. They’re pieces of a complex and broad puzzle. It’s not just tape. It’s not just check marks. It’s not just steps closer.
Enjoy the space in between the tape instead of just searching for your next one. Because although the new color is nice those small white marks hold the beautiful detail of your journey. They’re the good stuff. The pretty stuff. The hard stuff. Appreciate them for what they really mean. Live in the belt you’re in. Saturate yourself in it. Love it. Admire it. Don’t wish it away.
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