"When I look back at my time as a blue belt, I hate my blue belt self. I don’t like to use the word hate, but I had
Blue Belt Fever."
Everything is different now. I feel like I’ve just powered up or evolved into a newly-found specimen. I visualize myself wearing dark aviator sunglasses and a pearly white smile that blings in the light.
I walk on to the red Zebra mats like I’m making my way down the red carpet at a blockbuster premier. The spotlight is on me. I imagine getting the thumbs up from people on the mat in slow motion.
My teammates great me with handshakes and hugs, and congratulate me on my promotion. My belt is tied lower to my hips, and I move on the mat with a little more arrogance than before- but more confidence, too.
In my head, I’m a bad mother fucker. I’ve finally made it to blue belt.
The last two years involved sweat, grinding, breaking fingers and learning countless techniques to prove that I’m ready for the next level. Over the next few months, I would train harder than ever before. My favorite move at the time, the triangle, was my go-to submission. It’s where I wanted to be at every second on the mat. I was invincible.
I would coach my teammates on the side and tell them why I do my triangles a certain way and why their way wasn’t the best option. At times, I felt as if I were at that black belt level.
Everything was great. Until the day I got smashed.
That day was one of the best in my grappling journey, because it humbled me right up. And it would be the first of many humblings. I remember driving home that night with the radio off.
How did I get my guard passed? How was he able to submit me from so many positions? Why couldn’t I escape his side control? How did he use his weight like that?
When I look back at my time as a blue belt, I hate my blue belt self. I don’t like to use the word hate, but I had Blue Belt Fever.
My training partners ask me, what belt was your favorite to get? What belt color irks you the most?
My response: blue belt and blue belt.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a vendetta against blue belts. Some are stand-up individuals. Just like I don’t have anything against vegans or anti-vaxxers. Some are great, and others need to chill out for a second and stop jawing my ear off about their beliefs. But something happens when someone gets promoted to blue. They get Blue Belt Fever.
What is Blue Belt Fever?
The fever is when you suddenly come down with new symptoms that you hadn’t experienced before your promotion.
Some of these signs are typical with color change, but in some cases, The Fever can lead to the death of a blue belt.
BBF can be broken down too many grades of fever:
The Black Belt-Blue Belt: an individual who starts to believe he or she is a superior grappler than their training partners, coaches, competition, world-class athletes etc. Usually, they will start to take on a coaching role without being asked to by the head instructor.
He or she may start to brag how their chosen submission, pass or escape is the best and how Gordon Ryan couldn’t even stop their deception.
I feel like this is one of the most common fevers you’ll see once someone gets promoted to blue belt. Sadly, I once was this guy. All BB-BB’s will have their day of reckoning. I sure as hell did.
Don’t be this blue belt.
The Engulfed Blue Belt: the type individual that falls even deeper down the rabbit hole after their promotion; similar to the aforementioned BB-BB, grappling is all they think about. However, this person does not have time to be cocky, because they are too focused.
He or she may not socialize as much as before, but the grappling train still barrels down the tracks full-force. They’ve tasted the energy from getting promoted, and all they want to do is train and continue to advance on their journey. Maybe belt colors don’t mean anything to them, maybe they still do. All they want to do is getting better and help their team get better.
These are my favorite types of blue belts.
Be this blue belt.
The Amped-Up Blue Belt: one who treats every roll like it’s a gold medal match; will not tap to a submission/ cranks on a submission to get the tap. Many afflicted also wonder why they’re always hurt. When it’s time to find a partner, he’s usually the guy that doesn’t have a partner. Maybe he didn’t wash his gear and smells kind of funky, or maybe people are tired of catching knees to the head and elbows grinded into their thighs.
This person can’t stop talking about how they’re prepping for 2021 IBJJF Words, Pans, ADCC’s, etc., though it’s still 2019.
In most cases, this person is the nicest person off the mat, but may have a competitive ego as he or she is used to competing at a high level. This was also me, embarrassingly enough. Just be aware when the timer sounds, they’re ready to go balls to the wall.
Blue Belt Death: the most common reaction to getting one’s blue belt, where the individual disappears shortly after promotion, never to be seen again.
I’ve met some awesome people so far on my grappling journey. Athletic, smart, strong people who all want to make it to the next level. But it’s a hard, long road; a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ll notice these blue belts as well. They get their blue belt one day and the next, they’re gone forever. Sometimes it’s the BB-BB who gets burnt out. They realize how deep a commitment it takes to advance to purple. Sometimes it’s due to an injury setback that makes it hard to get the ball rolling again. Or maybe it’s because a hungry white belt had your number one day and now your motivation is gone.
Whatever the obstacle, in life or on the mat, don’t let it stop you from continuing. Reset, readjust, and keep going.