The Hero’s Journey: My Winding Road to BJJ Black Belt

BJJ black belt tying their belt

Every hero starts their journey full of hopes and dreams. I was no different when I first stepped on the mats as a BJJ white belt. Through twists and turns, my path to black belt molded me in ways I never expected.

In the beginning, everything hurt – my muscles, my ego, my identity. Nothing quite prepares you for the utter exhaustion and regular demoralization. I was routinely submitted by 16 year olds half my size. 

But with each tap came incremental growth. I learned how to breathe again, how to move my body in ways I never thought possible. Minor victories like escaping mount or landing my first real submission fueled the fire within.

As time passed, progress flowed steadily. Stripes were earned. Then, the day arrived – I was awarded my blue belt. How far I’d come from that shrimping newbie! But in reality, my journey was just beginning. 

The length between belts is a beyond humbling experience. I explored the maze-like facets of guards like Spider and De La Riva, tasting brief moments of success before being thwarted ten steps backward.

Injuries happened; ribs cracked, shoulders dislocated, toes permanently mangled. BJJ spares no one from its taxing toll. But time off the mats only made my hunger grow stronger. 

During promotions, pins exchanged hands as higher ranks were ascended. From blue to purple to brown, my game evolved, but so too did life off the mats. Priorities shifted, yet BJJ had forever left its mark on my soul. 

Now a black belt, I find myself teaching more than learning, providing answers rather than asking questions. But in truth, I am still that white belt who walked in the door years ago, amazed by what BJJ can reveal about oneself if you embrace the journey.

The path doesn’t end here. There are still techniques to refine, concepts to absorb, and most importantly, people to empower. I hope you’ll join me for a roll and discover your inner hero’s journey. The mats are always waiting. Oss!

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