No, I am not a black belt yet. The thought has echoed in my head daily since the weekend when one of my professors facetiously called me out as I was getting my ass handed to me by another professor. “He is not a black belt yet!” he said while narrowly escaping a barrage of attacks and finally getting caught in a submission just a few seconds later. I wagged my finger “no” as in agreement that he was right, I still have such a long way to go. I acknowledge this fact everyday so I work harder. The working smarter part evades me most times as I feel like the working smarter part of my journey is over. The time now as I enter the second year of my brown belt is for the hardest work I will ever put in and the greatest patience I will ever practice.
It was a harmless gesture. It was made in jest. It had been close almost a year since I have trained with these professors so it made for a good reunion. As the timer-less round went on, I continued to give it my all, attempting to use precision in my techniques and deception in order to catch my professor off-guard. Of course, I was out-classed and so the match went on until the end.
The realization that I am not a black belt yet has been with me for a long time now. I used to think that when I got my brown belt, I would be so close only to get a few months in and wholly understand that I have never been further from my black belt in my life. The fallacy is the belief that brown to black is only one belt color and thus is closer than say, a white belt. In my eyes, however, the work that needs to be put in is exponential compared to the work I put in as a white belt. Also, the knowledge I have compared to the knowledge I do not have is miniscule. Everyday I face the reality that I know next to nothing and every single day that passes, I find out that I know even less than the day before.
This fuels me. Getting my ass kicked and being put back in my place fuels me everyday. I love the fact that I still have much longer to go because it allows me to feel like I have absolutely nothing to lose. I can go out there and leave it all on the mats. Win, lose or draw, I will learn something invaluable about myself, about jiu-jitsu or about life. And as quickly as I figure I have learned something new, jiu-jitsu comes back to remind me that I don’t know shit about anything Because of this, I am focused. I am more focused than I ever been to reach that next step. My life revolves around jiu-jitsu and all the arrows of my life all point in the same direction.