“The journey towards enlightenment and the path towards mastery in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu share many similarities. Both require discipline, dedication, and a willingness to overcome obstacles and challenges along the way. In both cases, progress is measured in stages or ranks, each representing a higher level of understanding and skill.
The first stage of enlightenment is known as Stream-Entry, which involves breaking the first three fetters: the belief in a permanent and unchanging self (self-view), doubt about the Buddha, his teachings, and the path (doubt), and attachment to rites, rituals, and practices as a means to enlightenment (attachment to rules and observances). Stream-Entry is considered a significant milestone on the path to enlightenment as it marks the point at which an individual becomes a “noble one” and is guaranteed to achieve full enlightenment within seven lifetimes at most.
Stream-entry, alone is a significant milestone in the spiritual path towards enlightenment. It is considered the first stage of enlightenment and marks the point at which the practitioner gains a deep understanding of the nature of reality and begins to see things as they truly are.
The term “stream-entry” comes from the idea that the practitioner has entered the stream that leads to Enlightenment (also known as Nibbana or Nirvana), which is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path. It is often compared to entering the vast ocean, where the individual is no longer confined to the limitations of the shore and has access to the boundless expanse of the sea. This represents the sea of consciousness.
At the moment of stream entry, the practitioner experiences a profound shift in their understanding of reality, which is often described as a “glimpse” of Nibbana. They may experience a sense of peace, joy, and liberation, as well as a deep understanding of the Three Universal Truths: impermanence, discontentedness, and non-self.
After attaining stream-entry, the practitioner is said to have gained a level of spiritual maturity that enables them to progress more quickly towards full enlightenment. They may experience further insights and realizations, and may eventually attain higher stages of enlightenment, such as once-returner, non-returner, and arahant.
It’s important to note that stream-entry is not an end goal in itself, but rather a significant milestone on the path towards complete liberation from suffering and discontent. The journey towards Enlightenment is a lifelong process that requires dedication, commitment, and consistent practice.
The second stage of Enlightenment is Once-Returner, which entails having eliminated the first three fetters completely and significantly weakened the next two fetters: sensual desire and ill-will. Once-Returners have reduced their attachment to sensual pleasures and aversion towards others to such an extent that they will only be reborn once more in the human realm before achieving full Enlightenment.
In contrast, the third stage of Enlightenment is Non-Returner, which involves breaking the five lower fetters completely: the belief in a permanent and unchanging self (self-view), doubt about the Buddha, his teachings, and the path (doubt), attachment to rites, rituals, and practices as a means to enlightenment (attachment to rules and observances), sensual desire, and ill-will. Non-Returners will not be reborn in the human realm, but will instead be reborn in a higher realm of existence, ultimately achieving full Enlightenment from there.
The fourth and final stage of Enlightenment is Arahant, which involves breaking all ten fetters completely and attaining complete liberation from suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Arahants have eradicated all traces of craving, aversion, and delusion, and have fully realized the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Arahants are considered to be fully enlightened beings who have achieved the ultimate goal of spirituality.
Similarly, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the belt ranking system serves as a clear roadmap for progress.
There are different levels of mastery associated with each belt color.
The white belt represents the stage of mastering survival, where practitioners learn basic techniques and strategies for defense and protection..
The blue belt represents the stage of mastering escapes, where practitioners learn to successfully defend themselves against more advanced attacks and develop their escape strategies. Receiving a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be seen as the practitioner’s first attainment and entry into the vast ocean of becoming a ground shark.
The attainment of a blue belt represents a significant milestone in the practitioner’s journey towards mastery. They have gained a level of understanding and skill that allows them to navigate the complexities of BJJ with greater ease and confidence. They have learned to apply technique and strategy in a more efficient and effective manner, and have begun to develop their own unique style of fighting.
However, the journey towards mastery in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a continuous one, and attaining a blue belt is only the beginning. The practitioner would experience countless more insights and realizations as they continue to train and develop their skills. They may encounter new challenges and obstacles, but the lessons learned along the way will only serve to make them stronger and more resilient.
The purple belt signifies the mastery of the bottom position, where practitioners focus on developing their guard game and counter-attacking from the bottom position.
The brown belt represents the mastery of the top position, where practitioners focus on dominating their opponents from the top and can stay on top with ease, as well as further developing their submission game.
The black belt in BJJ represents reaching the pinnacle of the art as a master of submissions, where practitioners have developed a professor’s understanding of various techniques and can apply them effectively in a range of situations. While there are higher belt levels like coral and red belts, which are only attainable by practitioners with significant years of active journey, the black belt represents the highest level attainable by most practitioners. Attaining a black belt in BJJ is more than just a recognition of technical proficiency – it is a badge of honor that represents the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. It is a symbol of mastery over oneself and the art, and a testament to the unbreakable spirit of those who pursue it relentlessly.
In the world of BJJ, the black belt is the pinnacle of achievement, and a revered rank that commands respect and admiration. Black belts have not only mastered the technical aspects of the art but also its philosophy and mindset, embodying the principles of perseverance, humility, and respect. They are living proof that dedication, hard work, and a relentless pursuit of excellence can lead to the achievement of one’s goals.
At this level, submissions come naturally, almost as if they just fall into their lap. The black belt is not just a recognition of technical prowess but also of the indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to the art. For those who have attained it, it is a badge of honor, a symbol of their mastery over the art and themselves, and a reminder that with hard work, anything is possible.
Belt Ranks and Enlightenment Stages: A Comparison of Two Paths to Mastery
The white belt represents the starting point, where the practitioner has little to no knowledge of the art. This is similar to what the mind goes though with the preliminary phases to Enlightenment, known as The Jhānas. The blue belt represents the first stage of mastery or attainment, where the practitioner has a solid foundation and can begin to apply techniques effectively. The purple belt represents the second stage, where the practitioner has gained a deeper understanding of the art and has begun developing a personal style.
Purple belts are often seen as instructors to newer students and are expected to help others improve their skills. At this stage, the practitioner is continuing to develop their own style and preferences when it comes to BJJ techniques.
It’s important to note that the purple belt is a significant achievement in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and it can take several years of consistent training to reach this level. However, it’s also important to remember that BJJ is a lifelong journey, and there is always room for improvement and growth, regardless of one’s rank.
The brown belt represents the third stage, where the practitioner has almost mastered the art and is recognized as a senior practitioner. Finally, the black belt represents the full attainment of mastery and understanding, where the practitioner is considered an expert and is capable of creating new techniques and pushing the boundaries of the art.
As the practitioner continues to progress through the belt ranking system, they will encounter new techniques and concepts, and will continue to refine their skills. Each belt represents a new level of understanding and mastery, and the attainment of higher belts such as the purple, brown, and black belt signify an even deeper level of knowledge and expertise in the art.
Overall, the journey towards mastery in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a challenging and humbling one, but the rewards are immeasurable. Through hard work, dedication, and a willingness to confront and overcome one’s limitations and vulnerabilities, the practitioner can achieve a level of skill and understanding that is truly awe-inspiring.
It’s fascinating to note that the belt ranking system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the spiritual path towards Enlightenment share many similarities. Just like the belt system is a structured and clear progression towards mastery, the spiritual path is also a journey towards the ultimate truth. While the belt system progresses through different stages and ranks, the spiritual journey towards enlightenment also involves stages of deepening understanding and realization of the ultimate truth. Both paths are unique to each individual and can take many different forms. One may find spiritual Enlightenment through meditation and practice, just as one may earn a higher belt ranking through consistent training and practice. Similarly, acts of compassion and selflessness can lead to spiritual growth, while demonstrating good sportsmanship and helping others progress in their training can lead to advancement in the belt ranks and own skill level.
For progress on both the spiritual and the art, consistency is key. Both the belt ranking system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the spiritual path towards Enlightenment require a combination of discipline, dedication, and natural talent. Both paths also require a strong focus on personal growth and development, as well as a willingness to face and overcome obstacles and challenges along the way.
Both the pursuit of mastery in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the spiritual path towards enlightenment require the practitioner to confront and overcome their ego. In the case of BJJ, this may involve accepting defeat, acknowledging weaknesses, and learning from mistakes. Similarly, the spiritual path involves letting go of attachment to the self and recognizing the interconnectedness of all things.
Confronting and overcoming the ego can be humbling and difficult but can also be a source of strength and growth, as it leads to greater awareness and understanding of oneself and the world. The physical and mental training in BJJ can help develop qualities such as focus, discipline, and resilience, which can also be beneficial on the spiritual path.
While both paths share similarities, they differ in their ultimate goals and means of measuring progress. The belt ranking system in BJJ is a means to an end, with the ultimate goal being the development of the individual’s character, physical abilities, and overall understanding of the art. In contrast, the spiritual path is a journey towards the ultimate truth.
Both paths are unique to each individual and can take many different forms. Acts of compassion and selflessness can lead to spiritual growth, while demonstrating good sportsmanship and helping others progress in their training leads to advancement in ones own game.
Ultimately, whether one chooses to pursue mastery in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or on the spiritual path towards Enlightenment, the most important thing is to remain dedicated and committed to the journey, and to strive towards continual improvement and growth. The path towards mastery is a personal journey that is unique to each individual, and there is no single path or approach that is right for everyone.