Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Chris Haueter on Belts

Chris Haueter was on the Jean-Jacques Machado podcast recently. This clip stood out to me, probably because I attended a couple belt ceremonies in the last few weeks, and saw about twenty people get awarded a black belt.

Jay Zeballos:

How does it feel to get your black belt?

Chris Haueter:

Well, I will say this, the only belt that I felt like “yeah, that’s mine, fuck you very much” was my brown belt. I had been a purple belt for like six years at that time. And I had gone through the purple belt blues, thinking I can’t get any improvement. Then I would improve and I get better and I’m doing really good.

And this place finally, I get the brown belt and say, “yes, I’m the brown belt.” I felt like the day I had it, I was a brown belt. But every other belt, the blue belt and the black belt, I felt like an imposter, right? Like, “fuck, I’m not really here yet.” And I am grateful that within the first three months of having the black belt, I had that black belt match and won. Because then it’s like, okay, I am a black belt. Because at the time, the only comparisons I had to hold me to black belt was the Gracies and the Machados. I mean the icons, right?

Jay Zeballos:

Case in point for my question, because today, like you see people chasing the belt. It’s like, you have to own up to that. You know, you’re going to get that belt. You’re going to need to represent.

Chris Haueter:

We were told, it’s different now, but back then we were told in, in the early days, and I want to say it was either Rorion that said this to me, maybe Carlos, even, not everybody gets to be a black belt, even if they train all the time. And it’s so you felt like “God, I might not ever get this,” so it did make you dig deep, right? Whereas, if you have it, where, you know, “don’t worry in two years, if you still suck, I’m going to promote you,” then it kind of waters it down. Right? It becomes a time and grade thing.

It’s not productive to hold an opinion on whether you think someone deserves their rank. Besides, from conversations I’ve had with several people, it seems the majority didn’t feel like they deserved their promotion at the time anyway. We all grow into it. I still feel like an imposter at times, and never more than each time I got a new color. And the beauty of jiu-jitsu is, when you get over it and start to get a little cocky, someone comes along and humbles you.

The episode is available at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/chris-haueter/id1540189907?i=1000544353668 and the YouTube video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYlJ404MtdA.

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