Monday, December 30, 2013

Holy crap, I'm a purple belt!

I still can't believe it - last weekend I became a Royce Gracie, Triangle jiu jitsu purple belt! It hasn't fully sunk in yet. (A few days ago, I absent-mindedly said "I'm just a blue belt" and had to be corrected by my training partner).

Not much has changed, really. I roll the same as I did a few weeks ago. I still get tapped by the same people. The old maxim is true - "A belt only covers 2 inches of your ass. It is up to you to cover the rest of it."

Getting promoted by my now black belt instructor Seth Shamp!

In my job as a speech language pathologist, we have a maxim of our own - "Don't teach to test." In other words, the point of therapy is to improve someone's functional communication, not to improve standardized test scores. When therapy is successful, improvement in assessments may be the end result, but it is never the goal. The goal is to help a patient communicate in the world.

I think the same is true in jiu jitsu. Going up in rank is a measure of progress like standardized test results. They both are a nice affirmation. But achieving rank should never be the point of training.  Pedro Valente has said “No one should train for a belt. You should train for the knowledge, you should train for all the amazing benefits that jiu jitsu brings to our lives.”

I train quite simply to get better at jiu jitsu. Sometimes I train with a narrower focus, such as to win a tournament or to learn and incorporate new techniques. But the overall goal is to be just a little bit better than the day before. Changes in color are few and far between in our art, so if they become our goal, we are destined for frustration and discouragement.

My training partners Brad McDonald and De McFadyen got promoted too!

Getting a purple belt has never been the point of my training. Still, it is something that I have wanted from early on. When I was new, I saw purple belts as serious bad-asses. Now I see them as folks who are in it for the long haul and are likely to keep training for life.

So, yeah, I am totally psyched to wear a new color and to have a chance to compete in new divisions. Purple is my favorite color and my belt now matches most of my wardrobe. I am also psyched as ever to keep training for the simple sake of learning jiu jitsu.

My jiu jitsu tree has a purple flower!


  1. Awesome, congrats! I love your perspective on belts too: 100% agree.

  2. I'm stoked for you! Congrats on being an Official Role Model for women in Jiu Jitsu. ^^

    You're one of my favorite bloggers!

  3. Thank you, Jiu Jiu! That means a lot because YOU are one of MY favorite bloggers

  4. Ps I love your tattoo! I've thought about getting something similar - I have a blue poppy on my chest, and I've thought of getting all 5 basic belt colors as additional poppies on my chest. Have you written about your tattoo?

  5. Yes, JiuJiu I have! I love your idea

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