I Got My Black Belt, Now What?

5 min read
A reflection piece on what it means to be a Jiu jitsu black belt

I Got My Black Belt, Now What?

A reflection piece on what it means to be a Jiu jitsu black belt

Regina, Saskatchewan

For many people, receiving their black belt is a momentous achievement that can only be dreamt about. It’s a goal that requires blood, sweat, tears, and an astronomical amount of time on and off the mat. I recently succeeded in overcoming the odds and achieved my black belt on February 28, 2021. After a wave of emotions and a couple days of reflection, I had an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of my new place in the Jiu-Jitsu world. Needless to say, it has been a process to sit down and sort through my feelings about this momentous honor. 

And so, I was in the middle of my black belt speech when I had a burning sensation in my mind that was asking me, “how do I progress from here, what’s the next step in becoming a better athlete, coach, and person.” I was overcome with the conclusion that I am now responsible for helping others as I move forward in my own journey. Questions like, “how do I progress from here? What’s the next step in becoming a better athlete, coach, and person?” hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to rapidly remind myself to stop and truly appreciate the accomplishment for what it’s worth. When you are always looking to the next accomplishment, you lose the joy in the current moment. Always being very driven with my goals, I look at possible ideas moving forward to help my transition into a new unknown part of life, but at this moment, I had to stop and be present, and it wasn’t easy. 

Part of the process of appreciating your newfound accomplishment is getting used to the uncomfortable feeling of change. As any Jiu-Jitsu fighter knows, change is something that requires care and nourishment. I found myself looking down, thinking how weird it feels seeing the black belt. I have been working for this opportunity for a long time, and now IT was here, wrapped around my waist. I quickly realized that I am now seen as a true and competent leader, someone who is shouldering a decade worth of Jiu-Jitsu knowledge. Even crazier, I am now referred to as professor, a title that seems foreign yet so fitting. I was once the one seeking the answers, and now I am the one who is to provide them. My research has now evolved to include not only knowledge acquisition for myself but also the learning of how to adapt to it my student needs.

Another question I had to ask myself moving forward is, “How do I want to progress with my game; what do I want to focus on?” I knew I was now held to a higher standard and seen as having a mastery of most if not all techniques. This means I needed to know and understand techniques of both old school and new school guards, submissions, and Jiu-Jitsu games. This bigger responsibility is now owed to me, my students, and also my family and friends. They also have goals and dreams to accomplish (medaling at a large tournament, winning a world title, or reaching the ultimate goal, the black belt), and it was now on me to guide them. With that, I will continue to research and advance my technique by doing a little bit every day and therefore passing on my knowledge to my students.

The amount of effort to achieve the black belt is proportional to what you want to give. You have responsibilities not only to yourself but to others around you. You go through a change that requires you to understand what your role has now become. My goals have expanded to include giving back to my club and the surrounding community. On my learning path, I have learned that Jiu-Jitsu is so much more than knowing technique, guard systems, and positions. I believe having a path moving forward with my own journey and being able to share my experiences is of the utmost importance. My job now, like my professor before me, is to help others walk with me and beside me toward our own respected goals. I accept my new challenge with great pride and admiration. Thank you to my team at Control Jiu-Jitsu, my professor AJ Scales, and thank you to my training partners who have pushed me to be a better Jiu-Jitsu fighter and, most importantly, a better human, dad, and husband.

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