Time and time again I have witnessed a phenomenon I call the "blue belt blues". This is when a practitioner of BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) starts slacking off on training or, in many cases, stops training altogether after earning their BJJ blue belt. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that many people will end up wearing that blue belt for many years before making the leap to purple belt. The good news is that most purple belts seem to stick with BJJ for life. But why do so many people become discouraged during their blue belt years, and how can we stay motivated after the considerable difficulty of earning a blue belt?
As I mentioned earlier, the sheer length of time spent at blue belt is one factor. Another is that BJJ requires a significant time commitment - some people discover after a couple of years (roughly the amount of time that it takes to get a blue belt) they feel overwhelmed with work, school, or whatever else is going on in their lives. But I believe that the single biggest factor is that it is not really until one gains a good grasp of the fundamentals of the art of BJJ - that is, a blue belt - that the true scope of what it will take to become a black belt is truly apparent.
It is, however, far from a foregone conclusion that everyone will drop out of BJJ or become inconsistent in their training after blue belt. There are many ways one can stay motivated. One is to remember how much time, sweat, and even blood has gone into that belt. One reason BJJ purple belts are likely to stick around is because they have put so much time and effort in already that they feel it would be a waste to not continue. But the same is true for BJJ blue belts! It took a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get that belt, and although the black belt may seem really far off, you are one step closer! Blue belt is also the time when BJJ students learn the most technique, and begin establishing their own "identity" as a BJJ practitioner. If you stick with it and train consistently, blue belt can be one of the most rewarding periods of your BJJ career. Blue belt is also a great time to try your hand at competing, see if you enjoy it and possibly bring some prestige to your academy and instructors.
Every BJJ practitioner goes through periods of time where they feel less motivated, train less often, or even consider dropping out entirely. For most people, this will happen many times in the course of training. However, it is important to remember that these feelings will pass, and if you push through them you will have the opportunity to fall in love with the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all over again!