For the past TEN years, I have been in the "BJJ laboratory" teaching kid's and adult's full-time. For the past EIGHTEEN years, I have been on my personal BJJ journey.
This article is designed to give Brown Belts perspective, insight, and the tools to become not just a Black Belt, but the absolute BEST, Black Belt they can be!
All belts and individuals in Jiu-Jitsu have to be examined on a case by case basis. People enter BJJ at different times in their life. We will study the following "types" of Brown Belts...
All three share common ground
The 3 types of Brown Belts all share some common ground. Eventually, the hobbyist and competitor will be forced to join the ranks with the "Professor" and teach Jiu-Jitsu. When this occurs, it is crucial they can teach everyone from all walks of life. Men/Women/Children, who may be weak, strong, old, young, introverted, extroverted, possessing issues from their past, lacking confidence, over-confident, etc...
It is easy to become self-centered in Jiu-Jitsu. Most of your training career has been spent "competing" with your training partners. I don't care how noble you are, you have went home more than once, proud that you submitted your friend or "beat them". But remember how you got to where you were, mentors and teachers. Jiu-Jitsu is a service and eventually you will have the important, humanistic duty to share the knowledge you have, in order to provide a positive future for the next generation of BJJ practitioners.
"Knowledge has no value unless you share it." - Unknown
When this happens, do not teach them all you know and all you can do...Give them what THEY need and NEED to do...They are not you, but they NEED you...Whatever you give them will fascinate them or frustrate them. Do not submit to the latter.
You have a family, you have a full-time job, you don't compete, and you probably won't open your own school.
You love Jiu-Jitsu as much as anybody else. Everybody's progression and focus is different in their journey through the ranks. But with that Brown Belt around your waist, you are a representative of what the Belt means to outsiders and training partners. So although it is your hobby, it is also a responsibility. Become the Belt!
"Sometimes, you don't have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing." - Rickson Gracie
Everyone has their role in the practice. "The Hobbyist" role is broken into THREE parts.
You made it this far after a late start in the race, don't stop or slow down now.
As a competitor, your instructor will have different expectations.
"The Competitor" Brown Belt has the highest personal injury rate in class and also injures the most people. The tenacity and pace that a competitor trains at is sometimes very difficult for people to handle. Especially in Jiu-Jitsu, where a lot of training partners don't compete, are older/younger/in shape/out of shape, and might not be in competition "mode". When you train, compete in class with other competitors, and don't lose sight of the fact that one day your switch will be unplugged and it will be time to give back and teach, so don't forget the Self-Defense, the basics, and who you were when you started.
You have gifts. Use them to win and use them to become a developer of the sport and art. American's love "sports" and you will be one of the people who gets the MOST ATTENTION. The spotlight is on you and trust me, when you hit Black Belt, the competition scene will be a different world. Time to focus more than ever!
The Future, Professor/Teacher/School Owner
You are probably teaching some classes at Brown Belt if your goal is teach full-time and/or own a school, you will have a good edge as a future instructor.
Think about the Black Belt Professor as if he/she was a Medical Doctor...You are getting ready to graduate and when you get that doctorate (Black Belt), you will now be sent into the workforce (teaching/ownership).
You will be scrutinized, watched, and people will AUTOMATICALLY trust you simply because of the doctorate degree you earned (Black Belt). Think about it, when you walk into a doctor's office, you assume they know what the heck they are talking about and telling you, well...because they are a doctor (Black Belt). Then you realize two things, this doctor (Black Belt) is knowledgable and nice guy and you see why there are lots of patients (students).
Some doctor's give you drugs, bare minimum treatment, and stop learning.
Some doctor's give you attention, care, treat you on an individual basis and educate you and themselves on what is important or evolving in the world.
Some Black Belt's stopped learning once they hit that mark. They teach their class as quickly as possible so they can get to rolling or head home.
Some Black Belt's study, learn and improve forever, and truly cares about the student's needs.
If you are a Brown belt and you are, or will be teaching, then become a teacher. do not teach only what you know or what you can do. Read the students and read the room and give back what THEY NEED.
It's funny, the more you teach, the more you learn...and the more you teach what you learn...you realize that most of your time spent teaching is also you learning.
"If you are not learning, you are not earning." - Unknown
As you are becoming a Black Belt start learning how to create curriculum. Manage business. Learn how to structure a class that is balanced for everyone. Learn how to handle personalities like a clinical social worker in order to sustain relationships that will help keep people in your class. In order to teach, you need to have people that want to learn. If you don't have many people wanting to learn, it's NOT marketing...it's you. Plan and strategize to be a communicator of knowledge, passion, and inspiration.
If you are competing, then compete. Go from Brown Belt champ to Black Belt legend!
If it is a hobby, remember, a hobby is a passion. If your ego takes you too far away from it being a hobby, Jiu-Jitsu will become a job and most people quit jobs.
If you are on your way to becoming a Black Belt Professor, you should be finding answers to as many future questions as possible. Master basics and master Self-Defense. Those are going to be the main things you teach and will ALWAYS be what HOOKS the student to the magic of Jiu-Jitsu.
Know who you are at Brown Belt, you are almost there. Start cramming for the big day. The Brown Belt isn't a belt in which you "wait" for Black Belt. It is the belt where you "prepare" for your Black Belt!
Eddie Fyvie - The Brown Belt gave me anxiety and I am glad because it fueled my fire.