What Makes a Purple Belt?

I asked Mike what he thinks the blue belt should work on to get ready for purple belt. He had two overarching concepts: 1. Movement, fluidity, and smoothness 2. Setting positions.

Movement is one of those things that’s easier said than done. Mike had suggested wall drills and flow drills. Since this particular blue belt struggles a lot with hesitation and overthinking, the reality is I need to push him harder during rolls, maybe even to the point of smashing just to reinforce that he needs to pull the trigger. Luckily he knows he doesn’t need to be nice to me so he can be more tenacious. Still, I need to really think about what will improve his fluidity and movement. There are a lot of drills I used to do explicitly to improve my movement like yoga ball drills and wall drills. I’m hoping he has a yoga ball to work on some of them.

Setting positions feels like one of those super easy things to work on by comparison. He needs to learn to not only hold but dominate the classical positions and then smoothly move into the submission positions from them. Once in the submission positions, he needs to practice thinking about them as positions themselves so the actual submissions stop being the effort. He’s currently looking at triangle, juji gatame, Saddle, and back control for these submission positions. Honestly, it’s a start. I’ve seen folks get promoted to purple belt with less than those four.

These things, along with developing his RNC as his favorite submission, are the focus for now. Once we can do standing, there’s also going to be that. I’m thinking of “encouraging” the white and blue belt to work the throws of the Celtic wrestling styles from a fixed collar and elbow grip to get them a sense of timing and basic competency with foot sweeps so we can use those to set up all the other standing things.

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