Being a beginner in Martial Arts
So, you’ve been thinking about giving martial arts a try? You Should! The desire always comes first with everything we do. That isn’t the hard part though, its showing up and giving it your all. Unfortunately, that isn’t even the hardest part either. Welcome to the world of martial arts and strap that brand new shiny white belt around your waist. This is what it means to be a white belt…
The newbie… the unexperienced white belt
You’ve acknowledged your desire to learn martial arts, you’ve taken the steps to find a safe and professional Academy, and you’ve shown up for your very first class. Congratulations, you are now a white belt, but you aren’t quite a martial artist yet. This is exactly what it means to be a white belt on your first day. It means you have made the commitment and displayed interest in your chosen form of martial arts. You’re the newbie now but it won’t be that way for long, hang in there.
Martial Arts and the white belt
Pretty much every type of martial arts has a formal belt ranking system in place. Virtually all of them also use the white belt as the starting point. Legend has it that the colored belt system started as a practitioner’s belt changed color over time as a direct result of usage. After a long time of training, the belt use to hold the jacket together, it would literally collect the blood, sweat, and tears of the student. Eventually changing from white to a much darker color, the “black” belt. Your white belt will change color as well, but these days it’s a much more regulated progression.
A Steep Uphill Journey for now
Your first few months will most likely be the toughest. The learning curve can be very steep in the beginning. With a little persistence and an open mind, you’ll make it through, I promise. Remember, when you started you didn’t know a thing. Learning anything is tough and martial arts are no different, even more difficult in many cases.
Still going… still uphill
How long you spend as a white belt is dependent on two main factors. The first is the style of martial arts you’re practicing. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you can spend a bit more time at white belt than some other martial arts. It can typically take upwards of an entire year and a half of consistent training to reach the next level of blue belt in BJJ. Other styles may not take as long but the journey can still be hard. Just hang in there and don’t quit. The second of the two factors, is you. The amount of consistency and attention you apply to your training will directly affect your time as a white belt. If you can only make it to the gym once every two weeks, plan on looking at that white belt for a while. If you are in the academy and you are watching cars drive by out the window while your instructor is teaching, plan on wearing that white belt for a while. If the time to practice your technique comes and you suddenly need a drink, need to go to the bathroom, and have to tie your belt every time, plan on having a white belt that is falling apart at the seams before you change color.
How do you really deal with the white belt though?
I’ve already mentioned having an open mind, dedication, and a desire to learn. What I didn’t mention yet though is the pride factor. The reality is, when you start your journey, you will be making mistakes and you will be on the receiving end of training for a while. Pride is good, too much pride is bad. If your pride is not allowing you to properly advance in any of the ways mentioned, let it at the door. There is absolutely no way around this. If you want to learn and progress at a respectable rate, forget the excessive pride. But there is one more thing here… ego. Nobody likes an ego. Not only will you cripple your martial arts experience before it even starts, you will make a lot of enemies. Ego, nope, don’t even think about it.
Mistakes, you’ve made a few
The biggest and most important part of being a white belt is to own it. Be the white belt, embrace it, make mistakes, learn. This is why you came and put the belt around your waist. This is why you wanted to get into martial arts. This is what it’s all about. Sure, you want to earn your black belt one day but the white belt is where it all gets laid out in front of you. This is where you will make the biggest advancements and where you will be tested the most. It’s never easier to quit than it is when you are a white belt in any martial art. In my opinion you never actually earn your white belt until you earn the next level. Then, and only then, have you proven that you had what it takes and you made it through. So, remember this, the white belt is the hardest rank you will ever achieve and the proudest moment you should ever feel is when you wrap that crisp, clean, shiny, new, gleaming white belt around your waist.