What does it take to get to purple belt?

andy raynor nh

andy raynor nh

Purple belt is the first elite belt.

Every instructor has different standards, but nobody worth his salt just hands out a purple belt. I can only speak for myself on this matter, so here is what I look for.

You have discovered your training pattern.

By this time, you have established that you will probably be training forever. Some purple belts show up twice a year, others twice a month, and a select few twice every day. Totally quitting is rare and a disservice to yourself after going this far. You have likely been through some life changes at this point. Child rearing, job changes, your new girlfriend/boyfriend or video game have not convinced you to stop training. Your future is forever colored by Jiu Jitsu, preferably in a well balanced way.

One aspect of your game is Black Belt level.

What is a black belt level? An abbreviated piece of what we are going for is much easier than putting it all together in a seamless fashion. If you do one thing well you are on the right track. Now, can you explain how you do it? You need to have an understanding of why the details matter. How do you do it even when they know it’s coming? Next, can you make it work on a beginner who doesn’t know the ‘right’ way to move? The next level means knowing what makes your technique tick, and troubleshooting on the fly. You can lock someone into your trap long enough to analyze and overcome their counters.

From here, you have a template for future progress.

Yes, you are taking control of your own progress. When you understand how much more there is to learn, it will be easier to ask the right questions. Your next project will be to bring everything else to Black Belt level. What did you expect? Now that you’re here, I trust that you’re up for it. Furthermore, you have an opinion about each position. When you were at blue belt you knew where to go, now you’ve tried some things from each place.

You demonstrate the utility of explanations instead of excuses.

By now, you are fairly used to tapping. None of us can beat everyone forever. When you tap, it should improve your game. You get just a little better each time. Human nature makes us naturally lean towards the easier path. While we tend to make excuses based on natural advantages, it’s better to understand why these advantages work. Can you explain why this natural advantage beat you in this exact situation? What would it take to change the outcome? If you asked their opinion, would they expose you to a different mindset that could change the result? Sometimes you can beat the natural advantage, sometimes not. But you are capable of investigating why.

Finally, you are beginning to see the big picture.

You have definitely developed your skills well beyond the average individual. But you can also see pretty clearly now that you aren’t going to run out of things to learn. You are also increasingly aware of how individual pieces fit and flow in your overall game. For now, this will probably be enough to chew on.

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Andrew Raynor

andy raynor nh

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