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White | Blue | Purple | Brown | Black

There's many different mentalities, different nature in character and levels of intensity and awareness within the individual going through their jiu jitsu journey.

White | Grit* resilience, toughness


Above is my first ever BJJ match. Competition, early on in my training is where I personally made some good advances in my game. I was able to test my skills and learn from many little mistakes or areas I needed to improve on.


Lets look at White belts moving towards their blue belt for our first example. I call most beginners style of rolling, "beginners furry" It's intense and raw, fast and clumsy.

But man it can be exciting to watch, especially in a competition, when its less about the technique and more about instinctive domination. Though often, these days you see a higher level of white belts looking for clear techniques and starting to blend a higher combination of guards, sweeps, passes, control in attack and defense. By the time they become a blue belt they are equipped with valuable technique that will serve them well in life. It is a BIG achievement!

It is sad however to see the amount of blues who vanish into the wilderness of excuses and lack of long-term effort. Link of discussion/forum debate: The ongoing question about percentage of white and Blue belt retirements...


Blue | Flow | Mindfulness* becoming aware in the present moment, breath, body and mind.

For some, (not all) receiving their blue, think they know, can't be told or instructed during practice. Believing that they have earned entitlement. (This is few but I have experienced this). Even the little things can be improved upon and the most important thing is being open to make adjustments and timing of execution becomes better. Using the right type of option, technique in the right situation.

"There is a long journey to Black belt Grasshopper".

Testing myself out against the best Blues in the State 2010Dave Johnson with Christopher Mazzali

Blue to purple was the most intriguing for myself. It was where I saw more clarity of sequences and trickery. Most blues start to see more combinations. By this stage they are less concerned with domination and in the beginning are more concerned with protecting their new belt. Once relaxed, and with the beginners furry somewhat dissipated the blending of techniques and sequencing begins.

I was fortunate enough to train with a friend who gave me advise about what I needed to work on in my game, he was the belt higher than me at the time. He said, "Johno, if you learn how to sweep well, your game will be much better, your top game is going great but you need some sweeps". I took his advise and started every roll from underneath after that for quite some time. I improved an area of my game that served me well in BJJ and MMA. I especially remember a couple of situations in MMA fights where these sweep improvements got me out of potential bad ground and pound situations. (that's a story for another time).

See the areas in your game where you need to put the most work into and be very intentional about creating these situations. Class drills are very good but you must see where you struggle the most and focus there. It might be that you have still yet to breathe properly and slow down so that you have more clarity.

The values gained varies from person to person. There is a humbling of the ego in most, a different focus of being more intentional, confidence grows and by the time purple belt is reached the flow rolling is in full swing, allowing positional variations to take place with experimentation, establishing there BJJ personality and style.

I have broken up these Belt Evolution concepts with the Purple Belt Part 2 coming next

-Dave Johnson

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