Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter Cascao Vital. He runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
We all know there is a pretty clear difference in skill sets for each Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt, but if you really pay attention, you will even notice that each belt has their own ego level as well. White belts have their ego in check simply because they are physically being dominated like they never imagined. Purple belts are a little more calm and laser focused and are thinking long term when it comes to their development. Brown belts are super helpful to the lower belts and also detail focused on refining their game before they hit the Black belt. But what about the Blue belts? Some have noticed that the blue belts have the biggest ego. Why would that be the case? Well if we examine this from a behavioural science perspective, the answer becomes a little more clear.
The first thing that you notice is that Blue belt is really the first stage that you don’t get your ass kicked like a white belt anymore. Now, you still get tapped by the higher belts, but they have years of experience on you so it’s expected, but since so many classes are white belt heavy, you go home with a nice amount of feathers in your cap from submitting all the young strong yet clueless beginners every night.
The second reason is their competition success. Now BJJ in my experience does not create unhealthy egos, but if you have a strong ego, the added skill of effective submission fighting sometimes highlights what was already there. If they come in as an aggressive athletic guy who catches on pretty fast and is able to win a few tournaments against other beginners who are often more passive and nervous, well then this reinforces their belief in themselves, sometimes to an unhealthy level. The higher belts oftentimes have a mix of wins and defeats in competition, so their ego has been put in check a bit more in this realm.
Another possible reason for the inflated ego is the comfort level they have in their BJJ gym. When a person is new to an environment or to a social circle, its often times hard for their true personality to come out. But once they have been at a school for a while, they feel accepted and a part of the tribe, and so they slowly allow their true self to emerge. If their true self has a strong ego, then this is when you start to see it.
We all have an ego, it’s not always accurate and sometimes fools us. BJJ in many ways helps shape a healthy ego for most, but the path of our art is long, and only a year in or so (blue belt) often does not give you the full long term benefits yet. Understanding each belts mentality will help keep your own ego in check and also understand why others behave they way they do. It’s crazy and amazing to see and feel how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu develops the mind as much as the fighting skills in a person, but that’s what makes it a true martial art.