Most of you are aware that different skill levels and experience levels are awarded with belts of different colors in several of the most popular martial arts around the world. The progression typically goes from the white belt – considered the lowest in skill – and the black belt, considered as the pinnacle of the martial art in question.
In BJJ the skill ranking system goes through a few belts – white belt, blue belt, purple belt, brown belt, black belt, and, in cases of extreme proficiency and knowledge of BJJ, red belt.
The purple belt typically takes 5 years of dedicated practice in order to be attained by the student of BJJ. You may notice in your practice that it’s a lot harder for you to get an upgrade of your belt in BJJ as compared to other traditional martial arts where they may happen to dish out black belts to whoever can make a certain kata. This is because of the fact that you will need to demonstrate your skill against other BJJ practitioners in real rolling sessions where your opponents will try their best to defeat you and stave off your advances.
So, you are now a blue belt and you’re aiming to get to the purple belt. How do you go about it? Well, the easy thing about being a white or a blue belt is that you can fall back to the support of your BJJ professor (the black belt instructor at your club). All you need to do for mastering and transcending the white and blue belt is to drill and drill and drill again. If you can really think about what you’re doing then this will speed things up – but typically you can attain purple belt by just going with what your professor advises you without overthinking it.
Well, once you get to the level of a purple belt, you will now have to start to gradually wean off from the support of your professor. Sure, we’re not saying that you should never listen to an advice – this is contrary to the basic principle of humility in BJJ – as even the lowest white belt that comes once every month to class may teach you something important if you’re paying attention. No, what we think is that besides listening to more knowledgeable people’s advice, you will now have to think on your own for a bit.
You will need to find your strong suits and develop your game around them. It’s often said that the blue belt knows a lot of different techniques on the surface level – but that the purple belt only selects a few of these techniques that suit him and really begin the process of their mastery. You will typically see purple belts using only a few techniques to ruin the lower belts in rolling sessions.
You will also have to think long and hard about what your weaknesses are and how you can work around them. After all, if you have a hole in your ground game in the sense that you have difficulties in maintaining side control – so you do your best to always go for the mount – this can be a critical fault of yours. You will want to start to work on fixing it.
The purple belts in BJJ are considered to have attained a great amount of skill in BJJ. This makes them eligible to teach other students in class at the particular club where they are at. They will be able to see the weakness and strengths of their fellow students – not as well as the black belts, but they still have an inkling of this skill. So, if you have a legit purple belt in your class make sure that you pay respect to them, as their knowledge and advice can really help you out in improving your BJJ game by leaps and bounds. And hopefully, one day you too can reach the level of purple belt in BJJ.