Old Friend

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Around 2009, I spent a lot of time training with a small group of friends.

I was a graduate student of philosophy in Australia. Others were in a similar situation or had a job from which they could take a reasonably long “open mat” break.

I think we had a lot of 6 or 7 AM open mat sessions, too.

We had access to the Judo facility at the university’s sports gym and took advantage of it.

One of my main training partners, Justin, was a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at that time. He was already in his early/mid-30s at that point, but he used to do gymnastics and was keen on BJJ as much as I was. He was a blue belt back then.

Justin got his BJJ black belt recently.

This news made me happy. I’m always happy to hear my friends from all over the world get promoted to a new level, especially if we spent some time training together.

Getting a black belt in BJJ is probably much more difficult than getting a black belt in other martial arts styles when you consider what it takes to achieve it.

The simplest advice I could give to you if you are on your journey to becoming a black belt will sound ridiculous, but…

Don’t quit.

That’s all.

(Unless, of course, if you want to quit or HAVE to quit. Nothing wrong with that. I’m not a BJJ fundamentalist.)

It’s normal to feel discouraged when things don’t work, but when such discouragement becomes too much, it might crush you and lead you to feel like quitting BJJ altogether, especially in your early stage of BJJ.

Remember to set small & achievable goals so you can hit them AND feel great about achieving them. Something like “Today I will defend myself against that purple belt who tapped me with Kimura five times last time… and try to tap less than before” would be perfectly fine. So, if you survive a round with that person without tapping five times, you achieved that goal. Of course, you can set more positive goals, too.

Such goals will make sure that you will keep going and keep learning.