Belts in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

 

BJJ black belt

Recently, I saw where a guy who knows in his heart that his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is not that legitimate artificially “aged” his belt. It looks like it has been worn by someone who has had the belt for 15 years! This person is attempting to appear more legitimate so he can strut around on Facebook and in his closed group pretending that he has been at that lofty elevation since the original BJJ invasion, when the obvious truth is that he and his organization are johnny-come-latelies who have nothing to offer.

What he is utterly missing is the point of the belt, and the point of the wear on it.

Many martial art systems have a ranking method. Sometimes it is signified by a belt, sometimes by a color of a patch or shirt, other times by different ways. Why does the belt ranking of BJJ get so much respect, more so than pretty much any other system?

The simple reason is that the belt in BJJ is earned by performance. Period. You can train for a long time, pay money, kiss up to the instructor, etc., but the main arbiter of when you are awarded a belt, is can you perform at that level when matched up to another person at that level? That is it. If you can consistently, then you are at that level. If you can’t, then you are not. If you can regularly roll (spar) against purple belts and threaten them with moves and are able to defend against their moves, then most people will accept you as a purple belt, regardless of what you wear wrapped around your waist that is holding the gi closed.

Take a  look at the above picture. The wear on that belt is honest wear, that comes about through time on the mat. I have been in this are over 20 years. I know how belts “age”. I literally see it every day. It is not difficult to see the difference between real wear, and fake “run it through the washer multiple times after dragging it behind the car for a bit” type wear. Someone who has not really been involved in authentic BJJ might think he can fool people, but not someone who actually walks the walk.

So the belt is only an external validation of what you have already demonstrated. Anyone can just go and buy a belt and wear it on a mat. Anyone can call themselves anything. Watch this video of a supposed black belt meeting up with a real purple belt.

And here is an explanation by the purple belt who did the exposing:

 

However, in BJJ, since everything revolves around performance, a legitimate BJJ player will roll against anyone at anytime. It does not have to be in a competition (though that is probably the single best indicator of where your level is), or you don’t have to regularly travel to other gyms for training, but you better be willing to publicly test yourself whenever. If you refuse to train outside your closed circle, or you spend all your time telling your students that anyone outside does not follow the true way, you will never know what you can do. If you are not willing to be open and public in how you perform, and refuse to test yourself in a real way, it really does not matter if your belt looks like it was worn by Helio Gracie in the 50’s; you still suck.

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