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Why “Dirty White Belt”?

In Feb. 2011, I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Triangle Jiu-Jitsu in Durham, North Carolina. It quickly began to dominate my thoughts and time.

I told myself that I wouldn’t start a BJJ blog before I earned a blue belt. That happened, and then I took 5 weeks off from work to visit my girlfriend on an island, so I got some time to write.

I loved being a white belt for many of the reasons Andrew Smith notes here: you get to grow and develop and learn. You advance at a rapid pace because everything is new to you. And no one expects you to do anything but get submitted over and over, so hey, no pressure! My instructor, Seth Shamp, says that during your early days in jiu-jitsu it’s your job to see everything and absorb as much as you can. Given that I’m a naturally curious person, I had a blast following those instructions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to advance in BJJ, and it’s fantastic to be a purple belt now. But I also want to be sure I keep a similar mentality that I had as a white belt:

* You’re trying to learn here. Check the ego at the door, keep an open mind and have fun.

* Every day your instructor and training partners help you get better. Appreciate them.

* If you do well, awesome, but nobody really cares except you and your mom, and you can’t be sure about your mom. Do this for it’s own sake, and because you love it, and because you want to improve.

The old story is that people became black belts because they just kept training, and their formerly white belts just got darker and darker. Hopefully, no matter where my journey through this art takes me, I will keep the attitude that I’m just a dirty white belt. The attitude stayed the same even if the belt changed.

Hence, “Dirty White Belt.” Let’s see where this goes.


About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

One response to “Why “Dirty White Belt”?

  1. Pingback: August 29, 2015: BJJ Class #14, Whirlwind and Finding Support | Off the Hamster Wheel - Living, BJJ, and Balance

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