Most people who start training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu never make it to purple belt. It takes a long time and a lot of dedication to get here. But there is a secret that many newly promoted purple belts don't know and aren't prepared to deal with. The secret is the Purple Belt Blues.

You've finally made it! You've been training for years and, although you tried not to focus on it, you really wanted that purple belt. It symbolizes graduation from the ranks of Jiu-Jitsu beginner. But that new belt comes with a hidden price, and you will face some new trials and tribulations in your BJJ journey now that you are wearing it.

Lower ranked belts might start to see you as a target, rather than just another training partner. Their desire to prove their game or get respect might make them a little more eager to tap you, and so they may roll more aggressively with you. You may get tapped by a blue belt, or even a white belt! This can make you question your own game and wonder if you really deserve the rank.

Maybe you have been asked to assume some teaching duties. If this is your first time teaching you will quickly find out that 'knowing' a technique and 'teaching' a technique are two entirely different things. When you start to teach you begin to realize just how big some of the holes in your knowledge are! You also start to find out about some of the bad habits that you have picked up along the journey. Again you may question your ranking.

Or maybe you just feel like you aren't making any progress, and you're wondering if your game is ever going to improve.

Any of these things can give you the Purple Belt Blues. If this sounds familiar, here are a few things that can help.

Remember that the white belts and blue belts are looking up to you and want to be where you are, but they don't expect you to be perfect. So don't place that burden on yourself.

You already know the basics, so it might feel like you aren't making rapid progress. But now is the time to start refining and polishing your tools. Start to work on longer and more subtle sequences, learn how to think in advance and how to set up traps. This same thought process also helps you to begin seeing how the higher ranked belts might be laying out traps for you!

Pedro Sauer once told me "I tap to everyone". When I asked him why, he said "The more I tap, the more I figure out my opponents game". Pedro said he stalks his opponent slowly and learns how they like to roll before he worries about 'winning' a match or submitting them.

Take this time as a purple belt to learn to teach, refine your game, stretch out your thinking, and begin to dissect your opponents game. It might not always look like you are progressing from the outside, but at this stage of the journey improvements become much more subtle.

So if you are singing the purple belt blues, take Dory's advice in Finding Nemo and "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

Peter Roberts