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The Belt

The belt. To a new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student, the white belt around their waist is simply a piece of cloth that keeps their gi closed and signifies that they are a beginner. As you progress in Jiu Jitsu though, the belt starts to take on a whole new meaning…..whether you know it or not.

About a month ago, something happened to me that affected me in a way that I did not expect; I lost my belt. I’ve misplaced my belt a few times but it always turned up so I didn’t panic at first and figured it was probably just back at the academy. I called one of my instructors and asked him if he’d seen my belt and he said he did remember seeing a purple belt lying around but wasn’t sure what brand it was. I figured it had to be mine but when I showed up for class that night and checked, sadly, it was not my belt.

We had a lot of visitors in town that week for a camp so more than likely it was picked up by a fellow purple belt by accident and his was left in its place. Reluctantly, I put on this “other guys” belt that was left behind and jumped into the class. The next day I went online and promptly ordered a new belt.

You might be asking yourself why I didn’t just keep the belt that was left behind. The belt that was left behind was the same color as mine, fit me just fine, and was broken in from time on the mat. Why spend the money and go through the hassle of getting a brand new belt?

To me the answer was simple: It was not MY belt.

That belt was not tied around MY waist by Dave Camarillo after four years of hard work. That belt never had MY blood and sweat on it. That belt had not been present for MY training sessions with instructors like Caio Terra, Flavio Meyer, Queixinho, Roy Dean, Clark Gracie, Paul Schreiner, Cobrinha, Bobby Southworth, Mike Prudencio, Joe Moirera, Roy Harris, Andre Terencio, Hannette Staack, etc. That belt did not spend over two years tied around MY waist. That belt, although it looked and felt like it, was not MY belt.

There are those who think that a belt is only good for holding up your pants or simply displaying your rank. I feel sorry for those people. Earning rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under a legitimate instructor takes years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. It’s hard work physically, mentally, and emotionally to get good at Jiu Jitsu. It takes dedication to keep coming back to class even after an injury or when you feel like you’re not progressing. Jiu Jitsu also takes sacrificing things like time with family, friends and your ego. Your belt, more than just holding your gi closed or pants up, is representative of all of these things and more.

What does YOUR belt mean to YOU?

  1. Clinton
    April 29, 2012 at 11:25 am


  2. TJ
    April 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Great post, Ryno. I have actually thought about this in the past, but your post really highlights the very strange attachment most of us have and never really articulate. Cool stuff.

  3. April 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I have yet to feel like I’ve really deserved any belt I’ve worn in BJJ (for a start, my guard passing has always been terrible and it’s still very rare I submit anybody), so the physical object doesn’t mean a huge amount to me. I’m hoping that when I get my brown, I’ll finally feel a genuine sense of pride. Good thing my rank isn’t up to me, or I’d probably still be hiding behind a white belt. 🙂

  4. Jeff Spaulding
    April 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I agree man, and awesome post. When I got my blue belt man it meant the world to me. Cause it’s something you have earned. It represented two torn mcl’s , torn right labrum in the shoulder. Blood, sweat, and tears. Its not so much that it shows everyone your rank, but that it represents your hard work. Anyways obviously loved the post.. Hope all is well.

  5. April 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I love the comments guys. Keep them coming!

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