Results for the Proving Ground's first qualifier for the 2014 season are in. Congratulations to everyone who participated. As far as I'm concerned, from the moment you step on the mat to compete, you're a winner.
That said, I'll admit to being more than a little bummed out that more people didn't come out for the event. I have no idea what the promoters are feeling about the turnout or how it compares to last year's. But while I've come to expect little participation beyond purple belt, it was shocking to see a single blue belt division that consisted of three different weight classes.
Take it from someone who's been there: there is no better time to compete than when you are a blue belt. When you're a white belt, everything is just a panic. By the time you get to purple, as Fabio Gurgel famously pointed out, it's starting to become clear who the academy superstars are. And if you are not among their number, then this is when the idea of keeping track of your competition record will start to become much less appealing.
Grandmaster Helio allegedly preferred to wear his blue belt rather than his black belt when training. He had his reasons. But when I think about those most pure moments of my jiu-jitsu upbringing - especially where competition and competition training was concerned - nothing comes close to my years at blue.