Blue belt syndrome, blue belt blues, blue belt curse. All these names refer to the same phenomenon. Namely, it is about quitting BJJ after receiving the blue belt. It doesn’t matter what we call this phenomenon, more importantly, why this happens.
The desire to be better and better is completely normal. In general, we do not like to be beginners and to do not know anything. We like to get promotions at work, be experts, etc. As in life, so in BJJ. Nobody wants to be a freshman with a white belt. And what is the next step after the white belt? Of course, the blue one. It is not surprising, that beginners immediately look at the blue belts with envy. For anyone who is just starting their adventure with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the blue belt is the first goal they want to achieve. It is also a quite real goal. Often, we got the blue belt faster than other colors because the trainer sees that we get what’s going on, we have experience with other martial arts, etc. Even if not, the perspective of about 2 years, to get the desired blue is not so terrible. The average person usually has enough enthusiasm for such a time.
The problem begins once we reach this goal. Then the question arises “what next”? For many people, unfortunately, the answer is “time to give up”. So, the question here is why, what are the reasons for this resignation, why did it happen now, at the blue belt?
Blue belt syndrome – Why most people quit belt?
Clash with reality
Generally, we’re usually excited at the beginning of something new. Whether it’s a new relationship, work or school, it’s fun first. But then the first infatuation and excitement pass and a collision with reality follow. It is no different in BJJ. As a white belt, we are excited about this sport, we always have time to train, we are not afraid of injuries, etc. However, when we get a promotion for blue it gets more serious and we start to have doubts. There are questions such as “whether I have time” and concerns about e.g. possible injuries.
Let’s face it, hardly anyone of us trains full-time BJJ. For most people, it is rather just a hobby, besides it, we have many other responsibilities. Some just can’t put sport first, often it doesn’t even get to top 3 life priorities. After various thoughts, such people simply put family, work or education before everything else. The blue belt is, therefore, such a fork on our life paths. The moment of this promotion is the time to decide if I can devote myself to this sport. Many people just can’t do it and give up.
Too high expectations
Many people, especially those who got the blue belt relatively quickly, after the promotion may figuratively collide with the wall. The blue belt is very often the longest time someone spends at one belt level. This situation may, therefore, be unbearable for some. People who are used to constant rush, often have sick ambitions and like to be rewarded quickly will not be able to wait, sometimes even for years, for the next color of the belt. Frustration will eat them up from the inside. Of course, some will clench their teeth and wait until this purple. And others just won’t.
Disappointment and doubts
This point somewhat connects to the previous one, because it is also about how much time you spend at the blue belt. There, however, it was primarily about ambitions, but here more about ego and self-expectations. It often seems to us that once we have this blue, we are immediately world champions. Suddenly, however, it turns out that due to the fact time spends at this belt level is long, one blue belt does not equal another blue one.
For example, someone with a blue belt for about a year often cannot compete with people who are just before purple. What is worse, sometimes it will happen that a white belt will tap us. For many, however, this “insult” is no longer survivable. And suddenly it turns out that neither of us is a world champion as we thought right after the promotion. Then a disappointment in ourselves, our level, etc. shows up. Next comes the doubt that why do we do train at all? We are still losing so what is the point of all of it? This is a very depressing moment, which unfortunately you just have to survive. Some, however, do not feel up to it and prefer to just give up.
If at one end of the scale we have too high expectations and too big ego, then at the other end there will be satisfaction. Some people measure strength on intentions. They do not have hypertrophy as previous cases. They know, for example, that they will never become a black belt. They think that they are too old or have other responsibilities, etc. For such people achieving a blue belt is enough success. BJJ is simply an adventure for them, not a lifetime commitment. For such people, it was just nice to get the blue belt and that’s it.
No further interest
Another reason maybe boredom. Some people constantly need new stimuli, new experiences, etc. BJJ was able to keep their interest only to the blue belt, when they were still learning new techniques, positions, etc. Then it just seemed repetitive and not attractive enough for them to continue training. Such people just want to try constantly new things in life. They will not be a black BJJ belt, but maybe they will have medium-level colored belts in several other sports.
If you have a blue belt and hesitate to give up think that you are not the only one with such thoughts. Apart from total freaks, most people had such doubts at some point. Look at the higher belts, they also probably had a hard time in the past, and they continue to train. Sometimes it is worth clenching your teeth, putting the ego in your pocket and training, at least once a week. Just do not give up! I believe in you!
Important! No matter what the reasons are why people give up BJJ. We should not judge them and be outraged that someone may not want to continue training. It’s not our business.