Table of Contents
- 1. What is Blue Belt Blues Syndrome?
- 2. Key Reasons For Abandoning BJJ
- 2.1. Injuries
- 2.2. Costs
- 2.3. Unreal Expectations
- 2.4. Satisfaction with Achievements
- 2.5. Lack Of Interest
- 2.6. People And Environment
- 2.7. Ego
- 2.8. Everyday Struggles
- 2.9. Self-Defense
- 3. What To Do To Keep People Interested In Jiu-Jitsu?
- 4. Takeaway
It has been seen that a lot of people start training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with full dedication and fall in love with it very quickly. They start training multiple times a week, buy high-quality Gis, compete, attend seminars, and live a quintessential jiu-jitsu lifestyle.
However, surprisingly, after receiving their blue belts after 1 or 2 years of training, a large number of these keen BJJ practitioners just hang their Gis and quit jiu-jitsu. The debate over the reasons for leaving BJJ at blue belt encompasses a broader range of factors that may play a role in compelling people to do so.
In this post, we are discussing some of the top reasons behind quitting jiu-jitsu for a lot of people and how the respective authorities can play a role in minimizing this increasing number in the future.
1. What is Blue Belt Blues Syndrome?
Regardless of your beltrank, you might have seen a few people who faced blue belt syndrome. During your experience, you have surely seen people come and go in BJJ, but most of them give up at the start or at the blue belt rank.
The majority of jiu-jitsu people do not make it past the blue belt rank, and just a limited number of them manage to reach the purple belt, all thanks to their dedication. There is a famous quote by BJJ professionals, "Once you reach your purple belt, you will stay true to jiu-jitsu for life." This quote is also supported by a statistic that only 1-3% of people make it to the black belt. This means that most of the people who started BJJ quit at some point.
According to the BJJ experts, the white and blue belt periods are quite tough in jiu-jitsu training. As a beginner, you get beat up regularly at these belt ranks. The issue that the majority of BJJ practitioners face is that they cannot improve their BJJ overnight while still serving as lunch for higher belts.
The other critical issue that might also play a role in discouraging people is the BJJ belt promotion system. On average, it takes 2-4 years of training to be promoted from blue belt to purple belt. Very often, promotion from blue to purple takes the longest time that someone spends on one belt rank.
2. Key Reasons for Abandoning BJJ
There are plenty of reasons behind the highest blue belt dropout rate, and a few of the most critical ones are listed below.
One of the most common and sound reasons that people give up on their BJJ career at the blue belt level is injuries. In a combat sport like BJJ that involves plenty of joint locks, chokes, and takedowns, injuries are unavoidable.
Though injuries can take place at any belt level, blue belts are more prone to them. As blue belts spend the most time before promotion to the next belt level, they get more injuries. On average, a BJJ practitioner spends over four years of training and sparring before getting their purple belt, and in all these four years, they hold the least knowledge of the art, which makes them more vulnerable to injuries.
Though there aren't as many serious injuries in BJJ as there are in striking martial arts like boxing and MMA, they can be a deciding factor in abandoning a BJJ career at blue belt.
The cost of BJJ training can be another important factor that plays a role in compelling people to quit at the blue belt level. BJJ is one of the expensive combat sports that require you to spend money in multiple ways to continue training.
For many young BJJ practitioners, it is quite tough to fulfill their monetary requirements for meeting their BJJ needs. At the blue belt rank, BJJ schools want you to compete in most tournaments as well as attend all possible seminars on the sport for a better understanding of the art.
So, for those who cannot afford to spend too much money on these aspects of BJJ, they consider blue belts enough for them and quit the sport.
2.3. Unreal Expectations
Unrealistic expectations are also a major reason behind the higher dropout rate of BJJ fighters at the blue belt rank. When people have very high expectations, the reality may disappoint them.
There might be some buddies who started BJJ training for the sake of losing weight with the expectation of instant results, but they lost only a few pounds. Similarly, some people may think of becoming a world champion but cannot even win a local competition.
There are thousands of examples of unreal expectations of BJJ practitioners, but in the end, when they cannot meet those in real life, they get discouraged and end up quitting the sport. This is not limited to BJJ only. It is a common factor that when we are unable to meet expectations while performing a specific activity or job, we simply give up and quit.
2.4. Achievements Satisfaction
A sense of satisfaction is another key reason that encourages people to quit BJJ at the blue belt level. A large number of people consider getting a blue belt in BJJ to be a sufficient achievement for them.
The major reason behind this perspective is that they often find their age does not allow them to spend much time working towards higher belt levels. Many of them also know that they will never become black belts. So, they consider it enough for them and, consequently, they give up on training in BJJ.
2.5. Lack of Interest
Some people are always in search of something new on a constant basis, and when they do not get that, they lose their interest in the respective activity. The same is true for BJJ practitioners who quit at the blue belt level.
The problem with BJJ is that it remains interesting until the blue belt level as practitioners learn newer techniques, positions, and skills on a regular basis, but after that, it appears to be the reputation of already learned skills that causes a lack of interest for people who are always looking for new things to happen.
They look for other ways to try new things in their lives after losing interest in the sport. Such people definitely do not get black belts in Jiu-Jitsu, but can have multiple medium-level belts in other martial arts.
2.6. People and Environment
People and the environment are two important factors that play a key role in turning any place into a hell or paradise. It will be hard for most of us to work in a high-paying or more interesting job with toxic people in comparison to a low-paying or boring job with a team of cool people.
The same is true for BJJ practitioners. Rolling on lavish and high-quality mats does not have any impact when the people who roll on them are disgusting, shitty, aggressive, and arrogant. This does not suit anybody, including students and instructors. Maybe the strict and harsh behavior of the instructor is also a reason for discouragement for most BJJ quitters.
Ego and BJJ are diametrically opposed concepts, and maintaining an ego will prevent you from progressing in the sport. To achieve the most in BJJ, you need to kill your ego in the first place. That is why many people who do not compromise on their self-esteem and ego quit training in BJJ at the early stages.
As a white belt, you might not be getting much competition and rolling with seniors, but after getting your blue belt, you become a fish in a bigger pond, and you are considered as tough as other blue belt holders who are nearing their purple belt.
The other issue of ego is about tapping out when getting submitted by others, and many blue belts do not like to tap out as they consider it a matter of self-esteem. So, the ego issue leads most blue belts toward abandoning the sport altogether.
2.8. The Everyday struggles
Another one of the common factors that cause the abandonment of the BJJ sport at the blue belt level is life and responsibilities. Many people start to train in BJJ in their free time, but life never remains the same, and in the end, it becomes hard for them to keep on training while dealing with their day-to-day responsibilities. They also have to spare time for their family and children besides their jobs.
This also makes it harder for them to continue their BJJ training. In such conditions, receiving a blue belt is considered enough achievement, so they quit to give time to their family or deal with their life struggles.
It has been seen that many people just train in BJJ for the sake of learning self-defense, and after getting their blue belt, they feel they have learned enough to deal with untrained opponents in street fights. So, they quit training in BJJ.
One thing is noteworthy here: BJJ for self-defense is not for dealing with a bunch of people at the same time. This is about dealing with one person as well as the situation of unarmed people, as BJJ is more of a ground combat style and does not include any striking elements.
Despite these limitations, BJJ is considered one of the best martial arts for self-defense. So, after learning the basics of BJJ, people think they are good at getting out of self-defense situations and quit once they get their blue belt.
3. What to Do To Keep People Interested in Jiu-Jitsu?
Though it is difficult to prevent people from discontinuing their BJJ training because we cannot impose our will on people's personal lives. However, the dropout percentage can be reduced by taking the right measures. And the first step is to find the root cause of this blue belt blues syndrome. As it is now, we are aware of some of the important reasons behind this trouble. BJJ schools/instructors should take some steps in order to maintain the interest of people in the sport for the maximum amount of time.
In this respect, there are two important and easy steps that BJJ schools specifically take to minimize the dropout rate at white and blue belt levels.
3.1. Friendly Atmosphere
To keep BJJ trainees motivated to stay at a school or gym, the role of providing an environment is of great importance. As discussed above, many people just quit because they do not get a supportive atmosphere.
To keep such people intact with BJJ, it will be vital for instructors to create a supportive environment in their classes. Along with teaching BJJ techniques, they should also teach students about good behavior, humility, and should treat all equally. There should not be any favoritism or politics in the BJJ classes.
3.2. Progressive Training
The other effective way to help blue belts beat the blue belt blues is the adoption of progressive training methodology. Progressive training means the level and intensity of training should be different for beginners, intermediates, and advanced practitioners at each belt level. This will not just keep BJJ trainees intact, but will also let them see visible progress in their skills.
In a progressive training approach, you can add customization of BJJ lessons as per the needs of trainees from different belt ranks so they get something new in each class.
To achieve something, you have to bear and sacrifice. And those who quit BJJ at blue belt or even at the start, they definitely fail to do so. One thing every BJJ practitioner should keep in mind is that no black belt has achieved the goal without bearing some pain.
The discussed reasons behind the higher dropout rate at the blue belt rank are also obvious and can be overcome by taking the right measures. Specifically, BJJ schools and instructors can play a role in providing a positive experience to their learners, so they should not quit at the early belt ranks of the sport.