Well, if you’re an avid reader of this blog, you should know that John Valentine and I are testing in front of Master Sylvio Behring for our purple belts on April 29th. Sylvio once told me in a seminar that before a fight he was “always nervous never scared.” I’m scared.
That’s the weird thing – I don’t have to fight anyone. Roll? Yes, fight? No. Here’s the thing, and I’m sure every blue belt ready for promotion feels this way….it’s a PURPLE BELT. For those unfamiliar, it takes roughly a year or so for blue if you’re decent. Purple can take anywhere from 3 to 6 years with no experience…that’s fighting for 5 hours a week for over 1,000 days. In other words, to fail after 3 years would devestate me, and I’m not going to let that happen, no way. Am I nervous? Yes. Scared? Absolutely. To me, it’s like training for the olympics and falling just short or winning gold. To lose would be devestation, to pass would be elation.
When I got my blue belt I noticed that more people wanted to roll with me just to say they beat a blue belt…understandable, I did the same when I was a white belt. But purple is different. I started BJJ at Hidden Valley MMA in November of 2009. My goal was to get a stripe on my white belt. 3 months later, I got one, and it was awesome. My friends thought “big fuckin’ whoop”. Again, to me, it was progress. It was passing the first round cuts of high school baseball. It was to say that I had potential, nothing more and to wait for the second round.
The second round involved getting my Judo green belt. It was nice, but I loved the ground from the second I had “potential”…I wanted a blue belt. I wanted the ten dollar blue thing to hold up my pants. I wanted superiority and I wanted to be known. In October of 2010 I got it under Master Sylvio, and Professor Mike Hermosillo. Thus, the “target” was on my back. I had the blue belt reputation to uphold, and suddenly that anxiousness turned into a feeling of whether or not I could actually live up to it…call it a reality check. Did I get submitted by white belts? Yes, all the time. It’s not to say that I wasn’t worthy to hold the belt, but only that I had the “fundamentals of Behring BJJ” in my book. I did, so losing didn’t bother me. Mike always told me, “If you don’t tap during rolling, you’re doing something wrong.” I tapped, as they say, “early and often”.
But a month from now, John and I test together for purple. Purple was so far out of my goals when I started that it has become the little gold head that Indiana Jones was trying to steal in The Temple of Doom. If I knew how to spell “paraphamilia”, it’d be that.
Over the years Mike has been kind enough to let me teach, and has made me a technical man, and I listen to him and do what he says. I’ve fallen into a submissive when I roll. I trust his words and I do it and I win. Because of that, people in the gym look up to me and they almost expect me to win. It’s weight to carry, especially knowing that I’m not as good as they think. That being said, to fail a test in front of students would absolutely destroy me. For Sylvio to be unimpressed at my progression would embarrass Mike and humiliate me. I’m absolutely afraid of failing, even though I think that the promotion would be near impossible to fuck up at this point, I’m like Indy with the gold head…I’m blowing my fingers, estimating the weight, and I’m nervous until the moment I switch the weighted sandbag with the head….the moment I enter the “expert” ranks as some sites say.
I will be a purple belt, and I will impress, and if not given the opportunity to speak after, I’ll tell myself that I’m a product of everyone at the gym. Maybe I’m blowing it out of proportion but my life hasn’t been kind to me, and this is what I have, and I’m throwing myself into it – but John and I aren’t the only ones….
Julie Winter is a 6 month trainee and amateur MMA fighter out of HVMMA. She puts in 20 hours a week minimum at the gym. She’s ready for blue. I talked to her tonight, she’s nervous. It’s a cycle. She’ll be incredible and like everyone else, she needs support, and HVMMA does that. Mike doesn’t let people quit…maybe that’s why being promoted there matters so much – Mike makes you what you thought you’d fail to be.