Top Reasons Why People Leave Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu At Blue Belt

Top Reasons Why People Leave Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu At Blue Belt

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 one or two 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 belt rank, 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.

2.1. Injuries

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.

2.2. Costs

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.

From monthly gym subscriptions to seminar fees and tournament registration fees, one needs a huge amount of money to spend every month apart from investing in training gear and BJJ gis.

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. Achievement 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. Dissatisfaction with Slow Progress

On the other hand, some people quit BJJ at this belt rank because they do not deem the blue belt an achievement worth celebrating. Some people also struggle to see progress at their level and the small gains that they get by drilling a single position or technique for many days is simply overlooked. Furthermore, with more people taking up jiu-jitsu, they see a lot of naturally talented people who do not allow them to apply the techniques they have learned or easily break through their defense strategy, making it harder for them to feel confident and accomplished. As a result, many blue belts feel dejected and quit the sport. 

2.6. Athleticism

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a physically demanding martial art, which requires stamina, agility, speed, precision, and maximum athletic performance on the mats. Blue belts are about a year or two into training and they have a lot of energy to expend. The main reason they fail to get promoted to the purple belt and eventually quit at blue belt level is that they do not understand the importance of being technical as well. Their main focus is on being fast and strong, while they should be prioritizing technique and skill. Understanding the principle or the purpose of a position or a technique can allow blue belts to make progress faster. Not knowing when and where to use a particular technique can lead to failure, which frustrates blue belts and they quit. 

2.7. Not Knowing the Art of Unlearning and Relearning

At the blue belt level, practitioners need to be open to the concept of unlearning and relearning different techniques. Even if they think they have mastered a position, sweep, escape, reversal, or submission, they will find themselves in situations where their best techniques will either fail to produce results or will prove to be counterproductive. If a technique worked on one opponent, it is not necessary that the same will be true for another opponent. Some of the most accomplished BJJ practitioners are those who have a strategy against every opponent. For this, it is important to be willing to unlearn and relearn the fundamental and advanced techniques of BJJ.

Furthermore, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a constantly evolving sport. With the rise of No-Gi BJJ, close connection to mixed martial arts, and practitioners’ keenness to learn both Gi and No-Gi BJJ, a blue belt must learn to be adaptable in all circumstances. Unfortunately, many BJJ blue belts often lack the resources and the interest to practice the martial art at such an advanced level. They find it difficult to cope with the ever-increasing competition and the overall difficulty of the sport, and stop pursuing BJJ at the blue belt level. 

2.8. 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.

2.9. Lack of a Training Partner

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a highly demanding and time-intensive martial art that requires you to practice the sport daily for several hours. Moreover, BJJ is a contact sport, which means you need a training partner to get better at different positional maneuvers, submission techniques, reversals, and other fundamentals. While one can learn some techniques through solo drills, the need of a training partner eventually arises. Even though Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is becoming a popular sport worldwide, it is not necessary that every practitioner or enthusiast would have a family member or friend who is equally interested in jiu-jitsu. This hinders growth, leads to dissatisfaction, and compels practitioners to quit.

Luckily, BJJ training equipment such as a BJJ grappling practice dummies for adults and kids are now readily available. These jiu-jitsu practice dummies alleviate the need for a human partner, allowing practitioners to train at their own pace. From guard passing to positions, transitions, and submission, BJJ blue belts can use grappling dummies to improve their grappling and submission skills, come up with different self-defense strategies that are difficult to counter, and can also get better at the skills taught in jiu-jitsu class, achieving results faster than their fellows. BJJ grappling dummies are inexpensive, accessible, and readily available. Plus, they reduce the risk of injuries, help with burnout, and make BJJ practice sessions fun, allowing blue belts to get promoted to their purple belts. 

2.10. Lack of a Good BJJ Academy

Many people struggle to find a good BJJ academy near them that is affordable, offers excellent instructorship, and competitive opportunities to practitioners. Competing is key to success in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu no matter the belt rank. While finding mediocre dojos is easy, getting enrolled in a good BJJ academy often requires relocation. Paulo and Joao Miyao moved to São Paulo, Brazil to expand their horizons and acquire better training in Jiu-Jitsu.

Back in the 90s, people used to relocate to Brazil for top-notch BJJ instructors and excellent training. Today, well-established BJJ practitioners are located in New York, Austin, or San Diego. BJJ academies in these cities also offer two-three week training camps, allowing BJJ blue belts and others to learn techniques from renowned members of the BJJ community.

Despite all these opportunities, some BJJ practitioners either don’t have the time or the finances to avail them. As a result, they remain unable to find a good instructor who can polish their skills and make them a refined grappler, so they choose to quit instead. 

2.11. 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.

2.12. Ego

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.

2.13. 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.

2.14. Self-Defense

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.

2.15. Plateauing

At the blue belt level, many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts feel that they have reached a plateau in their training, and no matter how much or how hard they train, they are just unable to see any progress. At this point, many people compare the rate of their progress at the white belt level, and find that they are not able to progress as quickly as they used to. This comparison leads to loss of motivation and frustration. Unfortunately, those people who leave BJJ at the blue belt level fail to realize that their learning capacity at the white belt is naturally higher than at the blue belt level, primarily because there is a different level of excitement. At the white belt level, a practitioner does not know anything about BJJ jargon, core principles, techniques, and objectives. Therefore, they are hyper-alert and super-active, fascinated about every new thing that they get to learn.

But at the blue belt level, the sense of novelty” goes down because you are already familiar with the names of the techniques, methods, application, etc. The foundations are already made, and now they just have to improve the skills that they have required at the white belt level. Moreover, at the white belt level, instructors are more encouraging, mentioning only the positives. However, at the blue belt level, instructors start offering some negative feedback as well. They highlight the weakness to help the students improve their skills. Unfortunately, many BJJ blue belts are not good at taking negative feedback and get disheartened to a point where they just leave Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

2.16. Burnout

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grueling sport, and the training becomes more intense at the blue belt level. For this reason, the blue belt is also considered the most rough belt level in jiu-jitsu. The pressure of training, competitions, and making progress often leads to burnout. When a blue belt projects outward for support but instead finds that other practitioners are competing in every possible tournament out there and competing regularly, they might feel that they are falling short. 

As a result, they might push harder, causing more damage to their mental health. It is important to create a training and competition schedule that you can easily follow and actually enjoy. Unlike other sports, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not have a particular season. BJJ competitions are organized year round. The best approach is to limit yourself to up to 2-3 competitions a year. Scaling your training up, being consistent, and participating in a couple of major tournaments in one year is much better than doing too much at once and quitting due to burnout. 

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.

3.3. Use the Internet

Thanks to the internet facilities, there are many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons, tips, tricks, motivational content, and other relevant information for practitioners. Not only does this give one a sense of belonging but also help them to make progress despite lack of finances.

One of the best ways to improve your skills at the blue belt level and to become worthy of the purple belt is to take private lessons. But because these lessons are expensive, it is best to watch YouTube videos and also study different techniques by reading books. 

3.4. Take It Slow

As mentioned earlier in this article, blue belts often feel burnt out and end up quitting. To avoid this situation, it is best to train at least five months consistently for one competition. Maybe you can target one big competition such as the IBJJF World Championship, train for it, compete, and then train for the next big competition. Furthermore, as you manage your schedule and feel progress, and gradually start increasing the number of classes you attend in a week. As you start adding more to your schedule and realize that you are managing everything well and making progress, then aim to compete in one tournament every three months. Eventually, you can train up to two tournaments every month, and as you continue to make progress, you will find yourself promoted to the purple belt rank much faster than before. 

3.5. Scale Back on BJJ Training

Another best way to keep yourself consistent and alleviate the need to quit is to scale down jiu-jitsu training, especially during the off-season when there are no upcoming competitions that you want to enter. During this off-season, you can work on other aspects, such as strength conditioning, mobility, and flexibility. Many BJJ black belts and professional athletes also follow a workout schedule to either bulk up, develop more strength, improve stamina, or train other martial arts, such as Muay Thai , kickboxing, or MMA. This helps break the monotony of training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and creates space for a fresh perspective when the blue belt returns to the mats. However, it is important not to stop drilling the techniques to ensure you don’t forget what you have already learned. 

3.6. Try Out No-Gi BJJ

Sometimes, BJJ blue belts are unable to make progress because they are not really interested in the conventional fighting methods of Gi BJJ. Therefore, at the blue belt level, if you feel like you have exhausted all the tips and are still not making progress, try switching to No-Gi BJJ instead. Many No-Gi BJJ gyms warmly welcome blue belts because they already have the foundational knowledge of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can better pick up the techniques being taught. Therefore, always try out both disciplines of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before choosing the one you prefer most and pursuing it for years to come.

Moreover, in No-Gi the belt ranking system is not as time-intensive and grueling as the Gi BJJ belt ranking system. Therefore, you will be able to progress through the levels much faster than you would if you train traditional BJJ. As for competitions, whether you want to become a professional No-Gi BJJ practitioner, open your own academy in the future, or plan to transition to MMA, No-Gi BJJ allows you to fulfill all your goals, all the while alleviating the need to quit at the blue belt level. 

4. Takeaway

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.

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