By: Jackie Campbell
It may be safe to project that the coveted blue belt is the most commonly sought-after promotion within a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. It may also be among the most exciting promotions.
As the very first promotion beyond white belt, the ideal progression for a student to earn their blue belt is substantial. Growing from a casual participant looking to pursue a new hobby to becoming a truly dedicated practitioner of the sport, the road to the blue belt is a different journey for each student.
Tri-Force MMA Head Coach and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Pete Jeffrey, takes pride in his students and their skills on the mats. Proven through national recognition within the BJJ and MMA communities, Tri-Force MMA produces some of the best BJJ practitioners in the region.
Before addressing what it takes to promote, a student should first tackle whether they have mastered the white belt. Establishing a solid foundation in the skills of survival is critical to becoming skilled and successful in the art of BJJ. Getting comfortable with the fundamentals is just one piece of the puzzle.
Coach Pete zeroed in on the key factors when it comes to promoting to Blue Belt. “Technical skills and how well a student does while grappling are factors, but also leadership, being a team player and helping other students to learn,” says Pete.
“I am looking for students who I see that are really serious about training—being a good student and really drilling the techniques that are being covered in class,” explains Pete. “Some like to do it once or twice and feel like they have it. They usually don’t.”
The importance of competing within grappling is another key to success. Pete sees competition as a test for his students that he strongly recommends they take. “Competition is usually a big confidence builder, and with that new confidence comes more skill and more knowledge about the sport,” says Pete. “I believe that both of those things line up with an advancement of rank.”
Coach Pete emphasizes his passion for teaching BJJ by setting standards that he knows his students are proud to achieve. “My expectation is to always have the best and most technical students of their rank! Most will get their blue belt a couple of months after they could have received it,” Pete explains.
This is yet another test that most are unaware that they are taking in the dojo. “There is that time period that everyone expects them to get it. But I’ve had students that were so close and then when they did not receive it when they felt they should have, their attendance went way down and they start to fade,” says Pete. “That shows me that it is all about the color of the belt and not about the love of the sport. People who are obsessed with getting a new belt color are doing this sport for the wrong reasons. It becomes obvious when people are trying too hard to impress the coach.”
Pete goes on to explain the method to his timing. “That time where a student knows that they are so close is the time where the real struggle takes place. I do not do that to be a pest. Jiu-Jitsu is all about being mentally strong.”
“To me, that is just one way to build that mental toughness. I think when rank is finally received it is more appreciated,” says Pete. “They really had to work hard for it. I have never had anything given to me. I always appreciated the victories more after the struggle. The struggle is where you really learn.”
Pete coaches and mentors with the best interests of his students in mind. Their dedication is the pinnacle of success within their own journey as well as those around them. The more students who are fulfilling the positive lifestyle of the sport, the better the environment of Tri-Force MMA will become.
“Love being a student! I am still a student and will always be,” says Pete. “It is just like they say, ‘Once you stop learning, you are officially OLD!’”
Understanding that the sport stretches far beyond technical skill, Pete is molding his students to embody the trifecta of mind, body and spirit—The Tri-Force.