Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Belt Rank: Part I

So, how do I gain promotions? That is a popular question asked by most  students beginning in martial arts. A question like that presented to instructors of traditional martial arts like Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, and American Karate can receive a direct answer and even feedback as to when they can expect to receive promotions. The same question presented to an instructor of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu may get an indirect answer with a lot of questions presented to the student.


Most martial arts are known for using a systematic and formalized approach to belt rank progression while Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is known for using a [social][/social][einset][/einset]loose framework and, sometimes, subjective approach to belt promotion. It is fair to say that most martial arts use a universal system to promoting their students. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is quite the opposite. Some BJJ teams even have a different focus as to how they teach their students and evaluate their progress with sport BJJ being the main focus of some instructors while self-defense is a priority of others.


Many jiu-jitsu instructors are conservative when promoting their students. Because of this unique evaluation of BJJ competitors the journey to the black belt is a long one. Yes, there are stories of notable fighters like Roberto Traven and Mike Fowler who received their black belts in 4 years or less, but the opposite is usually true. There are many black belts that trained for 10-15 years before they received the coveted belt. [bjj][/bjj]


So, why is that? Why is it that it takes so long to gain promotions? Why is it that so many instructors vary on their evaluation procedures? Why is there not a universal system and time frame? This series will attempt to address some of these questions and more.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. chris

    I kind of like the informal system it makes you constantly analyze every aspect of your game because you never know what your instructor wants to see.The more you analyze and critique yourself the better you will be.

  2. Aaron Lapointe

    One of the best things about jiu-jitsu is that you get to pick and choose what moves work best for you, and in doing so you define your own style and game. Consequently, the moves you know become less of a factor as to what determines your rank. It’s more about your movements, your application of technique, your game plan, etc. For example, I don’t rate someone based on how well they do a specific mount escape (e.g., upa), but rather how good they are from escaping the mount. How they do it, isn’t nearly as important as whether or not they can do it.

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