It’s amazing how much the little bits of tape mean.
There’s a school of thought that you shouldn’t get hung up on them and, to a large extent, I agree. Chasing belts or stripes for their own sake is kind of undignified and childish — not to mention counterproductive. This is all particularly true if it leads you into behaving like an idiot.
But, there’s an undoubted sense of accomplishment to being brought up to the front of the class and have another small piece of tape put on your belt. It’s confirmation that you’re on the right track; that you’re really improving. And it’s confirmation that you’re making progress towards the big milestone of a new belt — which itself is a greater affirmation of all the same things. It feels good.
The flip side of that, at least for me at this stage, is that you start to feel just a bit of pressure. I want to live up to being a third stripe white belt. Which I know is a pretty low standard. After all, if I was any good, I’d be a coloured belt. But it still feels just a bit above where I think I am. Shouldn’t I be doing a bit better against the totally new people? Giving the blue belts a little more trouble? Getting a few more submissions? I remember being totally outclassed by the senior white belts when I started — am I as good as I remember them being?
Pressure, of course, is also good. Nothing wrong with wanting to hold myself to a slightly higher standard. Indeed, I’m sure that’s part of the point of the system in the first place.