Earning My Blue Belt

I was shooting the breeze with Coach Ryan after classes this weekend and we were doing a little reminiscing about our individual training and our time teaching at the dojo. I hope as I continue to write, I’ll build up to how the dojo was started, and some of the early days of the school. I think coming up on our 10 year anniversary this March has me reflecting more and more. 


Today I wanted to tell you about earning my blue belt. In Jiu-Jitsu, blue belt is the intermediate rank between being a beginner (white belt) and advanced (purple belt) in the adult program. The average time spent at each belt is around 2 years- for some a little shorter, for others it takes longer. 


For me it was 26 months as a white belt- but hey it’s not like I was counting the days or anything haha. It was a small class on a Thursday night in October. Right before we began, our coach King Webb surprised me with the promotion. The other students in class told me congrats and then we got into training. I remember feeling like I had just hit this major milestone! I felt like I had put so much of myself into my training and it was amazing to be recognized by my instructor as no longer a beginner. I thought this was the biggest thing I’d accomplished in my life- and even though I had graduated from university earlier that year- it was true.


Like I mentioned in my last post, I had been a slacker basically all of my life. That definitely carried over into my education and caused me to tailor the college experience to be pretty easy- I took some great classes like film, communication, and journalism classes. They were interesting and enjoyable subjects- and I made great grades- but I wasn’t exactly pushing my limit or pulling any all nighters like my friends over in the chemistry department. Just kinda coasting. 


There was no way to coast or slack off in Jiu-Jitsu and get results. That was a big part of the attraction to me. There was obviously theory to understand, but there was also a physical component where the rubber met the road and we put the theory into practice.  I had an experience early on in my training that illustrated just how effective this martial art was and I felt I had to know it to be able to defend myself or someone else. On top of that, I was FAR from a natural. Jiu-Jitsu was really hard for me- and that quickly became the main reason why I was there. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I could come up against difficulty and not fold. 


Another thing I think about with my blue belt promotion is that, although my coaches and training partners wanted to see me stick with it and keep going, there was no outside influence or motivation to keep at it. If I would’ve told my friends and family I wanted to quit, they’d have been like, “Oh yeah, you have a lot of other stuff going on. Makes sense. Want to go get something to eat?” We wouldn’t have had an intervention and it wouldn’t have viewed as some major life decision. Although choosing to stick with jiu-jitsu has been one of the best life decisions I could’ve ever made.  


They couldn’t have known the impact training was going to have on me, so I can’t blame them. And in fact, that’s part of what made my blue belt promotion that much sweeter. This was my way of working to grow and improve myself. Nobody was forcing me to do it. It wasn’t a requirement for anything. Nobody outside the jiu-jitsu school really knew what to make of it all. I liked that. It was my thing. 


In those early days leading up to blue belt, it became apparent to me that everything effects everything else. Since I was in jiu-jitsu and I was going to be a black belt in 8 years (missed that goal date), I couldn’t go out for the late nights because I had training in the morning. I started to get into some better lifestyle habits. The amount of money I saved not going out on Saturday nights more than paid for my tuition to train. I ate like I wanted to get the best out of myself. I started to read more and had a bigger appetite to continue my education like I was doing in jiu-jitsu. The good habits and disciplines of training started to spill over into other areas of my life and made a great impact. 


So, you know… I don’t think I’d be overstating it to say that the path to blue belt was a life changing experience for me. Maybe you’ve already had something in your life that made you rise to the occasion and helped you to get the best out of yourself. In that case, your story and the impact training will have on you is going to be different than the impact it’s had on me. One thing I’ll guarantee you though, is that once you make your blue belt you’re going to feel a sense of satisfaction and you’ll 100% feel that you invested your time and energy wisely. 


We look forward to helping you along the way at the dojo. 

Will Caldwell


Becoming an Advanced Martial Artist

One of the things we are talking about in classes is setting the goal of becoming an advanced martial artist. To be advanced in our youth program that is a belt rank of yellow/black, and in our adult program the first advanced belt is the purple belt. In either case, it is a 4-5 year commitment to practicing jiu-jitsu. It is a worthwhile goal for the physical side- learning self-defense, having a hobby that allows you to be active, and having a lifelong skill.

But really the more important development that is going to happen is on the mental side of the training. Learning how to become more resilient, more focused, more disciplined, and more capable of setting and achieving large and small goals.

Becoming an advanced martial artist won’t be for everyone. Some students will be happy and content to get a good understanding of the basics- and that is still time well spent. But for those of you who want to become advanced yourself or have kids who are thinking of becoming advanced, I wanted to tell you that there isn’t really too early of a time to set that goal for yourself.

I got it in my head when I was still a white belt that I’d be a black belt. At that early stage, it felt a little crazy to be setting my sights on a goal that takes students roughly 10 years to achieve. I hadn’t achieved anything else in my life that required a similar level of commitment. There were a lot of great opportunities to give up along the way. I really and truly think I never would’ve made it to any of my advanced belts let alone black belt if I hadn’t set that big goal for myself so early.

When I look back on setting that goal,I was a 22 year old slacker. I think man, what made me aim high? I hadn’t aimed high at anything else in my life ever. The answer that comes to me is that I thought being a black belt would make my life better. With two black belts today in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, I can confirm- young Will was right- life is much better. And it’s not better because my coach tied a black piece of fabric around my waist, although that was an honor. It’s better because of the person I had to become- the changes and improvements I had to make to my habits and mindset that spilled over into other areas of my life.

So, I tell you all of this to say, if you want to make it to that advanced level- we are going to be here to help you every step of the way. Our goal as a school is to produce advanced martial artists. The Dojo is coming up on its 10 years anniversary in a few months. We’ve produced many, many, advanced students and we are getting close to producing some of our first home grown black belts.

I’d love to see you or your kids make that advanced level with us at the dojo- and the first step to getting there is to set that goal.

We’re looking forward to helping you grow and improve in 2021!

Thank you,

Will Caldwell
Dojo Kyle

New Year New You: Goals and Resolutions

I love New Years and New Years resolutions (I make a lot of resolutions/goals). I’ve been reading on social media about how that resolutions don’t work, or saying those people setting them aren’t going to really accomplish anything.

I assume that could be true- I don’t hit all of my goals every year, so it makes sense that other people would not hit theirs. But I do have a good amount of success in this area as well and this is what helps me…

1. Commit. Don’t be wishy washy. Don’t say maybe. Say I’m going to do it and nothing is going to stop me. Write it down!

2. Answer Why. Why is this important? Why are you going to do it? Is this going to greatly improve your life or your family’s lives? The longer your list of “why’s” the more likely you are to hit your mark!

3. Be Accountable. Have a coach, a partner, a class, or just someone in your life who isn’t going to let you off the hook. Don’t tell EVERYONE (the negative ppl don’t need to know), but don’t just keep your goal to yourself. Tell a few of the right people so you have to live up to your word.

4. Be disciplined with your schedule. Showing up is the hard part. It’s easy to let things creep into the time you were supposed to be working on your goal. Block off your schedule.

When other things come up you can say, “I’m sorry, but I have an appointment scheduled at that time. Could we do it at this time instead?” You’re not making this up, it’s on your calendar. You have an appointment with yourself, partner, class, or coach! An appointment to work towards your goal!

5. Remember: if it was easy, everyone would do it. What are you willing to sacrifice?

I have a friend working 50+ hours a week, with a family at home, who has been quietly chipping away at an MBA for 2.5 years on the weekends. He’s sacrificing a lot- his family is sacrificing a lot. Sacrificing time together, time with friends, time to relax, not to mention the money!

But they’re doing it because what the results could mean for them. What could accomplishing your goals mean for you and your family? If you say “not much,” you aren’t aiming high enough!

Finally… if you made it this far reading, I’ll let you in on a secret. You can do all of the things listed above, you can give it all you got, and still come up short. Still fail. What do you do then?

Take an assessment of where you are. If you followed the steps above I can guarantee you’ve made progress. What went right? Where can you improve? You got knocked down, now it’s time to dust yourself off and start again. “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

Wishing you a great 2019!

Will Caldwell
Dojo Kyle


We are scheduling free orientations with two week free trials for new students and the calendar is starting to fill up! So call today I reserve your spot and start 2019 off on the right foot! 512-504-3354.