The Importance of Being a White Belt (aka: it’s ok to suck)

white belt brazilian jiu jitsu
white belt brazilian jiu jitsu

I recently started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s a grappling martial art, very technical.

I’m a white belt. And I suck at it, completely and utterly: I’m a slow learner, I’m the only girl in the class and I’m not really fit for it. But it’s ok.

Because I love it. I really really really love it. So I show up to class, I try to do things, I fail, but I’m happy. Because I’m a white belt. I’m not supposed to be able to do things. I don’t expect myself to be able to do what a blue belt does, I embrace the suck and have fun.

I give myself time to learn.

white belt rolling brazilian jiu jitsu
I don't know what I'm doing but I'm having fun.

I teach to all kinds of people.

And sometimes someone comes to lesson and gets frustrated because they can’t draw how they think they are supposed to (the pretty drawing, the right thing).

I wish I could give belts to my students.

I wish I could give them the comfort of knowing that they can suck at things, and that it’s ok, as long as they have fun and keep doing it, keep trying.

Because the only way to learn is by doing, by making mistakes, by allowing yourself to just do what you like to do without standards.

And the thing is, even when you are a black belt, the white belt mindset is what keeps you moving forward. I still suck. So much.

There are those bad days when I look at what I’m drawing and I’m like: “Today I don’t even know how to human.”

I feel the shame coming. I focus on dodging it. Doing more, trying again, find a different route, a different tool. Or by starting again from scratch. Basic drills, go back to the exercises of day one: draw a teapot, a wooden dummy. Hundreds of times.

Put your white belt on and show up to class.

Because a black belt is just a white belt that didn’t quit.

Don’t quit.

Do the thing.

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