White Belt again: power from vulnerability!
Recently I put on my white belt BJJ after being introduced to this martial art in 1995 by Remco Pardoel. Ready to tap, learn and grow. Fifteen years ago I started as a police defensive tactics and firearms instructor. White belt, knew nothing. Looked upon by some as a outsider, but that is part of being a white belt. Push through, improve. Listen and learn. Invested hearth and soul, many mistakes, became better and better and learned a lot. Made friends, lost friends. Seven times down, eight times up. The mindset of a white belt.
White belt again and again!
Three months ago I started working at the Academy of Physical Education (ALO) in Amsterdam. White belt again, knowing nothing. Some people let you know youre a white belt. Doesn’t matter, thats is part of being a white belt.
Aware of my Ego
The beauty of being a white belt is that you must put ego aside. Former credentials don’t matter. You are a rookie. It is difficult sometimes because you have been there and done that. But I suck it up, and try to open myself as much as I can. Aware of my ego.
As a white belt you are vulnerable because you know nothing, no experience, no friends. It takes courage to be a white belt. Courage to show up and tap. And come back the next day. And tap and tap again. But if you show up and put in the work you become better. From vulnerability grows real strenght, courage and wisdom.
Learning how people really are
As a white belt you learn what people really are made of. Do they ignore you or do they help? Do they make you submit for there own ego or do they help you to become better? Being a white belt give’s opportunity to see people’s real character. Never forget this experience when later on meeting a white belt yourself. Be nice, approachable and help out.
The true meaning of the white belt
WHITE BELT is the level of purity and potential. It is a phase with a heart full of hope. From this hope sprouts the first enthusiasm to train and learn. There is no shame in being a white belt and the instructor, more than the others, is aware of this because he or she too was one once.
The white belt to me symbolizes beginners mind: and it is simple: practice seeing life with a beginner’s mind. It’s dropping our expectations and preconceived ideas about something, and seeing things with an open mind, fresh eyes, just like a beginner. If you’ve ever learned something new, you can remember what that’s like: you’re probably confused, because you don’t know how to do whatever you’re learning, but you’re also looking at everything as if it’s brand new, perhaps with curiosity and wonder. That’s beginner’s mind.
White belt, beginners mind is a good defense against the danger that comes with expertise. We tend to block the information that disagrees with what we learned previously and yield to the information that confirms our current approach.
In my favorite poem IF (listen Jocko Willinck reading it in his podcast) Kipling speaks about starting again with a white belt:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
Birth and Death
I was born in this life as a white belt. It was just a gift to recieve this wonderfull adventure. I started again and again as a white belt in many aspects of my life. I will die as a white belt. Ready to do it over again. Ready to love, life and learn again and again.