The Path to Blue Belt
In jiu jitsu, we utilize the belt system to codify knowledge and skills progressing over time. There are a million places to learn more about how the belt system works, like here for instance, and every gym has their own standards for what progression looks like. Today, our focus is on the path to earning a blue belt at Airlock Jiu Jitsu under our Black Belt Rei Villa.
Understanding exactly what material needs to be mastered and demonstrated in live training in order to be considered for a promotion can be somewhat confusing. While the skill and knowledge requirements are not necessarily set in stone, we hope to provide an outline of what Rei is looking for as someone approaches their blue belt.
The first part of your journey encompasses understanding the point of jiu jitsu – following the logical steps of an engagement: closing distance, taking your opponent down, achieving a dominant position, and finishing the fight. More about that here.
From there, there are 4 things Rei is looking at:
- GRAPPLING PROFICIENCY
At blue belt, the practitioner should be able to defend themselves against most unskilled opponents in a grappling situation (within reason and considering weight and strength differences). At the gym, the blue belt should be able to ‘handle’ most white belts with technique over strength. This DOESN’T mean that they will never get submitted by a white belt. We learn by losing, and if we are developing our game in a balanced manner, we will inevitably find ourselves in weak spots that will lead to defeat. But without losing moments, we can’t troubleshoot our game and figure out where we need to improve.
- LEADERSHIP ON THE MATS
Blue belts are becoming leaders. They are what new students want to emulate. A black belt seems so far away, and the professor’s skills may seem unattainable (even though they are not). A blue belt, however, is an attainable goal in the white belt’s mind, and as such, blue belt students are their first role models. Blue belt students should help guide and take care of lower belts. It’s not impressive for a blue belt to smash white belts every day. Higher skill levels are expected. What is commendable is a blue belt’s ability to help guide new students as they take their first steps on the mats. Be a good training partner. Be an example by always giving 100% in training.
Competition is not a requirement for promotion. Rei recommends that everyone try it at least once because it’s a different feeling than grappling at the gym. But there are plenty of very high level jiu jitsu practitioners who have never set foot on a competition mat. Competing is a personal choice and not a metric for promotion. That said, it’s hard not to consider competition performance or willingness to compete – or even to do competition training – when considering promotion.
A blue belt should be able to teach basic moves to new students, at least the ones they are most proficient at, in a correct and coherent manner. It doesn’t mean we expect them to come teach class, but if asked to teach someone new the basics, they should be able to do so.
BONUS: Here is a super simplified list of things Rei may be looking for in a blue belt’s knowledge base. The quantities listed could be considered a minimum suggested understanding of various techniques, but keep in mind that everything varies from person to person.
GUARD PULL X 1
MOUNT ESCAPES X 2
SIDE CONTROL ESCAPES X 2
REAR MOUNT ESCAPES X 2
GUARD PASSES X 4
KNEE MOUNT ESCAPE X 1
NORTH/SOUTH ESCAPE X 1
SWEEPS FROM THE GUARD X 4
MOUNT SUBS X 4
REAR MOUNT SUBS X 4
SIDE CONTROL SUBS X 4
SUBS FROM THE GUARD X 4
SUBS FROM KNEE MOUNT X 2
SUBS FROM NORTH/SOUTH X 2
BASIC STANDING SELF DEFENSE
Ready to get to work on earning that blue belt? Jump in at Airlock in Bastrop for your first week free. Strive Strength & Conditioning members get special bundle pricing, and LEOs, Vets/Active Duty, and First Responders get a discount. 303 Martin Luther King Dr Bastrop, TX 78602, located inside Bastrop Fitness Project. 6 Days a Week. Classes for all.