So here’s the formula:
1 year = 52 weeks/2 = 104 weeks/ 2.5 years = 130
130 weeks x 4 hours per week (4 hours being the bare minimum for sake of the formula)
= 520 hours
520 hours…that’s my total BJJ time – give or take. 520 hours of rolling, progressive guard, choking, armbarring, being choked, being armbarred, and for those that haven’t read suck it up, assloads of injuries.
Last Wednesday night (December 21st, 2011), Professor Hermosillo called me out and awarded me my 3rd and 4th stripe on my blue belt prior to choking me the hell out (get stripes, get choked, them’s the rules). That means the next one isn’t a stripe, it’s the coveted purple belt…you know, the one that strikes fear into new people’s hearts…and mine.
Here’s why I’m nervous…first of all (and like any bjj practitioner), I don’t feel that I’m at that level yet. This opens a whole new door that leads to a hallway full of ass-whoopins in tournaments. I get over this feeling from the general rule of “trust your professor, he knows where you’re at”. Good advice…I do.
Secondly, I’m going to have to be in front of a bunch of people and perform the progressive guard and progressive guard pass in front of the big dog, Master Sylvio Behring. I’ve done that before, and it wasn’t a big deal. But I did it with two other people and it was “just for a blue belt”. Sylvio and Mike don’t hand out blue belts unless proficiency in the first part of the progressive guard can be performed. They sure as hell don’t award purple belts “just because”. In fact, I have yet to find a purple belt that hadn’t earned it through years of progression… after all, it is the first “expert” belt some say. In other words, I’m feeling like I learned the basics and got blue, now I’m testing to see how my personalized version of bjj is coming along, and I’m doing that in front of the man. This is like trying to impress a gladiator with my awesome thumb-wrestling skills.
I’ve googled every article I could find about purple belts. I’ve found every article from “what if I lose to a white belt” to “I’m the man”. They’re all interesting. The all also don’t include talk about how they “submitted with a sweet arm bar last night” or, “I caught a brown belt in a kimura last week”…seems like when you’re purple you’re humbled all over again.
…maybe that’s why I’m nervous…it’s the unknown. Don’t believe me? Google anything about BJJ blue belts, you’ll see that they talk about how they pulled a sweet submission or they “caught their instructor” with something. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
…now google something about purple belts…you’ll hardly find anything about bragging, stripes, a nice counter they came up with…nothing…it’s as if you turn purple and fall off the face of the planet like some kind of purple dinosaur (add Barney joke here). I want to know more, but you just can’t get one to open up. It’s starting to feel like death…I’ll only know what the next level is when I’m there.
I wish I could talk about what being a purple is like, but to tell the truth, it’s probably another 80 hours before I can. What I can tell you, is what it’s like being one-step down:
When I first got blue, new people and mid-level whites wouldn’t want to roll, and when they did, mistakes by me were forgiven being a fresh blue. Some white belts wouldn’t want to roll for fear of getting beat by someone just above their level, but not high enough to make an excuse for it – the “ego” issue.
That changed – Now that there are 4 stripes on my belt, every white belt and every blue belt last class wanted to roll…every single one…even the ones that usually have to “get home early” when it’s time to roll. It was like a switch – Get the stripes, everyone wants to roll.
I understand rolling is for development. That being said, there is still an ego to it…a nervousness if you will. I think that whole switch thing happened because now there’s an excuse. If I beat a white belt, it’s expected, if I beat a blue, well, that’s expected 90% of the time. That makes it easier for blues to test themselves and easier for whites to lose because “Well, he’s almost a purple belt.”
…It’s only going to get worse once it is tied on.
Ironically enough, I’ve never had such a variety of rolling partners and aggressiveness from people…and I like it. Mike was right, I’m close to that level and over the next 80 or so hours, with the rolling as of late, I’ll be there, then it’s the next chapter.