Since I received my brown belt, I have been adamant that the most important concept I am learning is patience. This not only applies to my JiuJitsu life but my personal life as well. I’ve had to navigate some pretty tough times and all the while have just convinced myself that if I just keep showing up, everything will work out as it should. The trick is learning how to be patient and continue along the journey no matter what life throws at you. It’s a constant feeling of dodging bullets that it’s so easy to lose sight of the important details that make the difference between genuinely practicing JiuJitsu and doing some kind of athletic hybrid that, integrating strength and speed into the technique. Genuine JiuJitsu should work against all people. This other version is easily exposed when you face someone with better technique.
As a white belt I was too busy surviving to fully understand the reasoning behind a lot of what I was learning. I learned the basics: the hip escapes, the bridges, the technical lifts, et cetera. I learned why these movements work, when to apply them and how to go to plan B in the event I could not execute the first time. I became proficient enough that as a blue belt, I was an escape artist. I was not entirely uncatchable, but my survival skills had leveled up.
As a blue belt and into my purple belt, I got lazy. My ability to survive and maintain for a whole round of sparring became good enough that I was able to start experimenting and getting sloppy. If I got caught, I was always “good enough” that I could improvise and maintain a little bit of sloppiness during my techniques and get away with it. I was beginning to forget a lot of those bread and butter techniques that were given to me as a white belt. None of the fancy stuff worked when I was a white belt. I had to rely on pure technique and fundamentals in order to escape the higher ranks’ onslaughts. That changed the better I got.
The day I got my brown belt I was sparring with my professor. At the time, I had been working a lot with an over-hook from bottom half-guard. I had come up with a couple of sweeps from that position so for a lot of my purple belt tenure, I just ditched looking for that under-hook. Big mistake. I got comfortable fighting people who had an under-hook on me because I was just “good enough” to sweep or escape with my fancy-pants over-hook. That day, I was working a sweep on my professor and we stalled out for a good minute. He eventually won the position and confessed afterward that he had to remind himself that the under-hook would eventually win if he stayed patient. “Trust your JiuJitsu” he said to himself.
Relearning Basic JiuJitsu
Fast-forward to a year later. Recently I started making a point to fight for the under-hook which is such an incredibly basic fundamental concept that every white belt learns. My over-hook techniques are pretty strong but I realize that they are not fundamental. They will easily be exposed by somebody with better, more genuine JiuJitsu. I fight for the under-hook now like I fight to reestablish all of the other remarkably basic techniques I have lost along the way. My game had evolved so much over the years that I forgot how to practice simple, effective, fundamental JiuJitsu; minimum effort, maximum effectiveness.
As a brown belt, patience has been immensely important. Seemingly more important, however, is having to relearn JiuJitsu. I feel like a white belt again in the best way possible. I am having to relearn the simplest concepts that I have taken for granted in my teachings; these things that I teach my white belt students that I, the brown belt, was too good to practice myself. Relearning JiuJitsu has been such a great experience. I almost start to feel what the Professors mean when they say “When you get your black belt, you’re finally ready to start learning”.