A One-stripe white belt


My first official class as a one-stripe white belt.

I was sitting there before it started looking at that stripe as I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “I’m a little scared now.”

He gave me a strange look, a I-have-the-weirdest-over-thinking-head-case-of-a-wife kind of look. His eyebrows said WTF is she going to be worried about now.


“Because now I feel like there is a little bit of pressure. Like I have to prove that I’m worthy of that stripe. Being just a white belt I could suck as much as I wanted and it didn’t matter because I was just a white belt. Now, I have something on my belt that says I should at least know a little bit. What if that doesn’t show in my very, very small cache of capabilities?”

I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes. I don’t blame him. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I, Allison Davis, am a head case. Always thinking and over-analyzing situations. But, here’s the deal. There is a legit reason I over-thought this one.

At our last martial arts school you couldn’t tell shit by someone’s belt. The belts told you absolutely nothing about that person’s skill level. Nothing. There were black belts that couldn’t kick above someone’s waist. In sparring you might see a blue belt destroy a second or third degree black belt. There were white belts that were better than green belts and brown belts better than red belts. You could not look at someone and assume because they were a black belt that they had the skills down. It was really wonky and weird to me. I always thought that the belts would be a clear cut representation of someone’s skills. That you could look at their belt and know, at least in some capacity, what they were capable of.

I know I’m getting a little off track here but that is the exact reason why I quit testing at this place and never got the black belt I was suppose to get. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like my skills matched my belt. I was not comfortable wearing a black belt without having the mastery of even the basics to back it up.

At SFC and in BJJ you can very much see the differences in each belt level. There is a clear cut tier of skill with each belt. You can look at someone’s belt and instantly know a little about them without asking a single question. My personal favorites to watch are the brown and black belts. They are so relaxed, patient, and just slick. I could honestly just as much enjoy watching them roll as I enjoy rolling myself.

When we first started at SFC my husband would be recapping his experience and telling me about someone in class that he rolled with and when he would say, “He’s a brown belt,” I would always ask if they were good. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that if someone is a brown belt at SFC they are a legit badass.

After my first class as a one-stripe white belt, I’m glad that stripe is putting some pressure on me. It made me want to show that I deserved that stripe. It made me work harder. It gave me a little more confidence. It made me hungry to roll more, to learn more. It made it easier to deal with frustrations. It’s proof that I’ve made it over many obstacles over the last five months and that I can make it over many more.

I didn’t need to tell myself “You are brave,” in scary moments because my stripe said it for me.

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