Why a Random White Belt Chick Has a BJJ Blog
I haven't written in a couple of months, partly because I know there are so many people who think it's absolutely ridiculous that a random white belt chick has a jiu jitsu blog.
I definitely listen to people who don't think white belts and blue belts should have any voice. I respect your opinion, and I actually do understand it. I adamantly agree with those who are opposed to lower belts teaching technique. I don't even know who would want to learn technique from a white belt (for real... is that even a thing?).
I love the internet because it democratizes. It makes accessible ideas and communities that we would not otherwise have access to in the way that we currently enjoy. Yes, there are challenges to be encountered when anyone, anywhere can publish whatever kind of content they like. But all in all, I submit to you that the internet can be used to do good in the world (and no, white belts teaching ankle locks on YouTube does not count as 'good in the world').
Is it right that a mediocre white belt who doesn't compete (cough, cough - myself) may presumably get more attention - and more free stuff - than a seasoned competitor with a coloured belt, because I have a blog?
To me, "is it right" isn't the best question to be asking. I'm more interested in, is it good that I have a blog? Does it make the jiu jitsu community somehow better, even slightly? Who does it serve? My ego, or my readers?
The reason I write about my experience, and the reason I wrote one of my first posts about things I wish people had told me before my first BJJ class, was, and continues to be, to be a friend to women starting their jiu jitsu journey. When I first started jiu jitsu I was the most scared person you had ever seen in your entire life, mark my words. I thought that the mats were made of fire or something, and people were going to think I was stupid and laugh me out of town. Thanks to the support of others, I made it though my first few weeks, and I decided I wanted to do whatever I could to help other girls avoid feeling as alone and awkward and horrible as I had. The only resource I had to access other women in jiu jitsu was the internet. And guess what? There weren't exactly many blog entries on too many topics written by women. They weren't exactly touching on the kinds of things I wanted to know about. And when I found myself saying, "Someone should really do something about that", I dared to realize that I was someone.
I thought maybe my blog would reach one or two girls somewhere in the world. I decided that if sharing my story helped another girl start her own jiu jitsu journey, as embarrassing as it was to put myself out there, it would absolutely be worth it. I knew I wasn't the only jiu jitsu girl in the world who felt alone.
At that time, I didn't know how small the jiu jitsu community was. Soon enough, after a few posts, I had thousands of people reading the blog. I started getting girls and guys from all over the world writing to me, thanking me for sharing my story, and they shared theirs with me. I still love hearing from readers, like the other day when a fellow white belt from Australia sent me a message saying, "Wow, everything you are saying is exactly the way I feel," and shared with me about how she was feeling so discouraged and weak and considering quitting.
There was the girl from Costa Rica who wrote, "Thanks for sharing your journey, and thanks for being that female friend we all as girls need on the mats."
Or the girl from the United Kingdom who couldn't convince any of her friends to try jiu jitsu with her, so she worked up the nerve to go by herself. She wrote to me after her first class because she needed someone to vent her excitement to.
There was the girl from Finland, who found my blog because she had Googled "BJJ" and "Christianity", because she, like me, had questioned whether or not it was moral to practice such a seemingly violent sport.
There was the girl from the States who wrote, "I just found your blog recently, and as a fellow white belt I really appreciate you giving voice to those of us who cannot yet do a flying triangle with the greatest of ease."
I, too, rely on jiu jitsu blogs from lower belts to be an encouraging voice.
Thanks to the internet, I got to have amazing conversations with Emma from BJJ Girl, who absolutely kicks ass and inspired me to keep going, because if she could do it as a single mom with kids and a job, I could do it too. And it does matter that she's a lower belt, because it meant she really was like me. She was someone I could actually connect with.
And I really did care about belt level when Jesse from White Belt Survival learned I was having a hard time, and he reached out and told me incorporate visualization into my mornings and to focus on goals. I did care that he was a blue belt, because it meant that he was closer to my experience in jiu jitsu than any black belt I could find. It meant that I could trust that the mental strategies he was sharing with me worked for him, and they just might work for me too.
And I do care that Emil Fischer from the Jiu Jitsu Times wrote an awesome piece about a fellow lower belt in Why you should care about Anthony Bourdain Competing at the IBJJF NY Open. Because if I could follow the story of a man with a lower belt being honest about the struggle of jiu jitsu, and if someone of his fame puts it all on the line and still competes, then maybe there really is no reason why I couldn't compete someday.
It really does matter to me that white belts and blue belts share their stories. I need to hear the experiences of people who are like me, to see that it's possible. I need the opinions and encouragement of white belts and blue belts, if nothing more than to know I'm not alone.
I think there is genuinely nothing I appreciate more in the world than people getting excited about, and sharing, their passions. A fellow white belt chick nerding out with me about how obsessed with jiu jitsu we are? That's so awesome! Yes, I want that! A black belt can tell me "it gets easier" all day long, but when I hear the experiences of jiu jitsu players who are on my level, that's when it really hits me, and I really feel part of something. When I get to hear the voices of white belts and blue belts, I feel less alone (especially as a woman) in the BJJ community, and know that my crazy thoughts are actually pretty normal at this stage of the game.
There is absolutely a place for everyone. No, I don't want to learn technique from a white belt. Yes, I can (and do!) learn from blue belts. And yes, I want to hear the stories of ALL belt levels, because that is a huge part of community-building.
To any belt level reading this who has ever felt shamed for sharing their story, please keep doing you, because I, personally, need it.
Keep spreading the sunshine!