[Sticky] Coach Thoughts: The Path From Blue To Black Belt
For those of you at or near blue belt... who feel comfortable with the basics, and sometimes want to (but can't) imagine what the rest of your time before black belt will look like... try to think of it this way...
After blue belt, you have 4 more advancements, 5 each in purple and brown, before you get to black belt. That's 14 steps.
That can seem long, if you think in time terms (around 6 months each = 7 years), OR it can seem short, if you think in terms of mastery. Here's what I mean:
I have mostly trained at slightly above a hobbyist's rate, 2-5 classes per week. Any area of my jiu jitsu game I ever got really "black belt level" at took at least a year of working on it my sparring. On average, that's one year in only 7 areas of my game.
There are definitely more than 7 basic positions, much less specialized ones or sub-positions.
Of course, we don't learn only one thing at a time, and all boats of my skill rose with the tide of my experience, but I still wouldn't say all rose to "black belt level" evenly. Some things were prioritized a lot or too little along the way, no doubt.
Anything I've "mastered," which I'd define as something that I have a more rare expertise in, that sets apart and characterizes my game took 3-5 years of field testing. That means I have 3 or maybe 4 of them (and I bet you guys could name them).
This goes to show, on the one hand, that there is so much left to learn at black belt.
But I hope you also consider that you get to choose which areas of the game you develop to "black belt level," or mastery, with a little forethought...
You probably already have clues about which areas or submissions suit your body and game styles. Imagine yourself at black belt, and ask yourself want to be sure you get to "black belt level," and what you want to be a "master" of.
By my experience and my theoretical math, here, maybe you only get 7 black belt level skills and 2 skills you've mastered by black belt. What do you want them to be? You don't get to be amazing at everything, and time is shorter than you think, so consider planning rather than letting coincidence chart the path to your one-day strengths and superpowers.