Daily Rickson Interview Series 15 of 24: The Belt System

Today in the our Rickson Interview Series: What do the belts mean in BJJ? What do you expect from a blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and most of all a black belt?


BJJ Legends: Speaking to that preservation, it’s important to manage people’s expectations across the board, so that people know what they’re getting into. It seems as though you’re making a good effort to do that. The belt system is something that I think we use to broadcast to others and within, what you can expect from that individual.

In past interviews, I’ve talked to other black belts, and I’ve asked the same question. We can talk about your ranking system within, that you propose within the JJGF, but what I’d like to talk about more is what those belts mean, both to the layperson and to an individual.

I know Royce said… Royce told me once that Helio said, “The belt only covers two inches of your waist. You have to protect the rest.” What do we expect from… What do you expect from… What does the Federation expect from a blue belt? A purple belt? A brown belt? And most of all, a black belt? Because you make some distinguish… You distinguish on your website between black belt instructors, of course, and referees, in terms of the expectations you have of them, as opposed to, say, just a normal participant.

Rickson Gracie: Yeah. First of all, and most important, we are not here to divide. So everyone who has a belt in his waist, if he’s legit, if he’s promoted by somebody, if he has a record, we will validate. So we’re not here to say he don’t deserve the belt he has on. That’s not the case.

We firmly suggest to him to understand the level he’s supposed to be, as he has his belt in his waist. So it’s more like a reference, a guidance of what you expect from a student in that level, what he’s supposed to know. That is the suggestion.

We give them a reference to know because, for me, the black belt… When he comes in, just from a tournament perspective, he can be a very tough guy, but he’s just an amateur black belt. If he becomes professional black belt, that means a teacher, he’s supposed to have the whole full program of self defense.

If he don’t have, I’m not saying he don’t deserve the black belt. I will suggest him to open his eyes and see what he needs to fulfill that gap, because his school will be better, and everyone else will be pleased with his work. So if I don’t have self defense in my program to teach, I will be no more than 25% than I am, by teaching only competition Jiu-Jitsu.

Tomorrow: Rickson tells us how he choose his executive team, Carlos Gama and Tony Pacenski.

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