Letter to white belt me.
As I was looking through my facebook feed I noticed a trend of bloggers writing letters of all sorts to themselves at a younger age. Letter to my 12 year old me, Dear unmarried self, etc. I know that when bloggers are making these posts they are meant not actually for themselves obviously since time travel does not exist yet, but more for the individual readers in that space in their own lives or just for fun reading. So obviously this is meant for white belts to learn from my mistakes and take them into consideration before they learn from their own. This is not a list of regrets. I have learned enough to know that focusing on the past does no good and that all my experiences good and bad have ultimately brought to where I am now. But I hope this gives some insight to beginners and serves as a source of encouragement and guidance. So here goes.
Dear white belt me,
You have just started on this long journey of learning jiu-jitsu. I am a 3rd degree black belt under Relson Gracie now and I am writing this to you to first say congratulations! You end up a lot farther than you ever thought you would and have gained more from this study than you can even imagine. But I want to give you some advice to help you along this life long journey.
Don’t worry about the belt.
I know you really want a blue belt more than anything. I know that from time to time you catch blue belts and they tell you should be a blue belt. Don’t listen to them, you’re not ready yet. In the near future Relson is coming for a seminar. You think this is your time but it’s not. You’ll feel overlooked but don’t be discouraged. Trust Relson, he knows what he’s doing. You would rather be a good white belt than a bad blue belt. When you tell your friends you do jiu-jitsu and they ask what belt you are, don’t be ashamed to tell them and you don’t have to explain that it takes longer to progress in BJJ than other systems. They don’t really care and that little slice of humble pie every now and then is good for you in the long run. When your time comes it will come.
Drill. A lot!
I know it may boring at times but this is so important. Everyone wants to roll and tap each other out but try to spend more time drilling right now than rolling hard all the time. Do it slowly and pay attention to the details. Little by little your movements will become second nature and they will be there when you need them most. You won’t have to think as much in the moment, you will react with more precision and will have better results.
Take care of your body.
You are in your early 20’s and your metabolism is off the charts. You can train all day, work all night, wake up and eat a cheeseburger and fries and do it all over again and you won’t know the difference. You can eat whatever you want it doesn’t seem to bother you but trust me, it is. You only get one body so take care of it. Eat as healthy as you can. Stop drinking pop. Drink water and lots of it. Eat only whole foods and try to stay away from packaged food. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients then that’s a good sign you should steer clear of it. One day you will have children and you will want to set a good example for them so they can develop and benefit from a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t compare your progress with your training partners.
Everyone develops at different rates. You are going to see people with better athletic ability than you start later and surpass you in effectiveness from time to time. It will bother you but don’t lose faith in the system. It was designed for you. Helio Gracie was a genius and developed a system that anyone can learn and apply. Your jiu-jitsu will eventually be able to bridge the physical gaps between you and your opponent. Competition between training partners can be a great source of motivation for your training and good gauge for how you are progressing but if someone passes you up in skill or belt rank, use that as motivation to keep training. Let it be a source of encouragement because better training partners make you better. This approach to adversity will have many benefits in your life. Eventually you will learn that any problem you experience will be better overcome by being more patient and to focus less on others and more on your own development in all the other areas of life.
Your friends are going to quit or move away.
You have developed some really good friends doing jiu-jitsu. Some of the best people you will ever meet. One day you will look around and most of them are gone. Life happens and time changes people. Some will quit jiu-jitsu and pursue other things, some will leave your school to train somewhere else. It will feel as if things have changed too much and you long for the good old days when you trained all day with this great group of people but don’t worry and don’t take it personally. Everyone has their own path. They will still be your friends and eventually you will help develop the next generation and keep building new relationships. Embrace this change and enjoy the journey.
Black Belt me