Under The Table Belt Promotions in BJJ

For two years I studied and practiced Kendo when I was in my teens.  I was diligent and worked hard at it.  I really enjoyed Kendo.  Every once and a while the president of the Rocky Mountain Kendo Federation would come out and we would test.  Each time it would take months to get test results.  We never received a certificate or any thing other then word of mouth about the results and our new rank except from our, aged and well loved sensei.  RMKF happily accepted our testing fees and the money we paid for them to visit and do the testing each time.  So if I were to start Kendo again would I be accepted at the rank I was told I had?  I doubt it.  I doubt there is any record of it.  I don’t have any documentation.  My sensei has since died.  It has left a bad taste in my mouth.  I spend time and money to earn that rank.  It would be the equivalent of a associates degree with no proof.

So when I tested for my blue belt in BJJ I thought things would be different.  I went to a local affiliate school.  I didn’t have a intermediary.  I would be talking directly to the person testing me.  The test result I knew would be delivered at the end of the test.  I paid my testing fee.

I passed the test.  I was given the blue belt on the spot.  Things were looking good.  I left the test elated that after 2 1/2 hours of testing I had passed.  That was the end of the warm fuzzes.  I neglected to ask about documentation.  Later when I realized that, I started by sending e-mails asking about a certificate.  My e-mails to the testing school had been answered before but this time there was no reply.  I asked my instructor if I should have received a certificate. He said they were usually mailed to the school.  I waited and nothing came.  I asked my instructor again about it.  He made a call to the testing school and left a voice mail.  I waited and time passed.  I forgot about my quest for legitimate rank. 

A new set of white belts in my school had matured and were sent for testing.  They returned and my thoughts turned back to finding documentation.  I asked one of them if they had received a certificate.  Maybe I was just the odd man out.  He said no.  Something seemed fishy now to me and I began to get that old feeling from the Kendo days.  I went to the affiliate website and found that I had to pay $50 a year for official membership that would allow me to obtain rank under this organization.  If I paid the membership and tested at an affiliate school I would be listed on the website with my rank.  I couldn’t find anywhere on the site that had any listing of anyone’s ranking but the "Professor’s" or the head of the school.  I decided to pay the $50 membership anyway.  Now there would be no excuse for not giving me some documentation.  When my membership kit comes I’ll start my inquires again.  I’ll start with a direct call to the person that tested me.

At this moment I feel like there are "under the table" belt promotions happening throughout the BJJ world.  Fees and belts are exchanged but without documentation it is all dust in the wind as my Kendo story points out.

Have you had a similar experience?

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life and Jiu-Jitsu

You Win Some and You Lose Some

BJJ practice went well tonight.  We broke up into whites and blues.  The whites went over the blue belt test and the blues went over the purple belt test.  We are a Pedro Sauer’s affiliated school.  I was surprised that I knew the six techniques we went over as well as I did.  We went over:

  1. Double Ankle Grab Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 74)
  2. Both Hands on Ankle Sweep to Armlock (BJJ T&T pg. 78)
  3. Push Sweep From Scissors (BJJ T&T pg. 80)
  4. Handstand Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 144)
  5. Arm Inside Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 160)
  6. Arm Inside Sweep to Arm Bar (BJJ T&T pg. 162)

These are all in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series) by Renzo and Royler Gracie.  I have documented the page numbers in the book next to each technique.  I highly recommend the book.  It has most of the basic techniques you will need to get a blue or purple belt.

After that we did some training from the guard.  The object was for the guy on the bottom to get a sweep and the guy on top to get the pass.  I tried out a number of sweeps and managed to kept from getting passed.  It felt great to get may favorite Spider Guard Sweep.

We then did our usual rolling session to close out the class.  I made some mistakes.  First of all I let a guillotine get away from me only to have it reversed onto me.  Inside my head my mind was screaming for me to throw my arm over his should for the escape but my body just wouldn’t respond.  I think I was to preoccupied with the coke.  The next roll was with one of your blues who should be going purple soon.  I held my own for a good while and escaped one arm bar before succumbing to a second.  I had him in a leg bind at one point and was thinking of a Machado leg bar I had been reading about but wasn’t able to pull it off.  All in all it was a good night.  I won some and I lost some.

Dreaming of Becoming a Purple Belt

Last night I had a dream.  In that dream I was competing in a BJJ tournament.  It was gi of course.  I have a progress plan that will lead up to no-gi as I posted in No-Gi vs Gi.  Back to the dream,  I won all of my matches and took the gold but only by a hairs breath.  I felt I was a decent blue belt but needed more time to learn after testing myself against other blues.  At the end of the tournament I was awarded my purple belt.  I was very upset!  I knew I didn’t deserve it yet.  I knew I couldn’t live up to it yet.  I was proud that they thought I should wear it but I knew better inside.  This morning as I ponder on my dream I find it very enlightening.  I do feel a sense of accomplishment and a right to have my blue belt.  At the same time I realize I have growth that needs to take place before I can achieve the next level.  I know that when I get that purple belt I’ll feel like a purple belt.  I’ll know its right about the time my instructor does too I think.  I look forward to that day and to all the fun and learning that leads up to it.

Jiu Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu Jitsu.

Blue to Purple Belt – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

So you got your blue belt, Congratulations!  If you are feeling like me you are excited.  The thrill of achievement has you thinking, “what do I need to do now to get my purple belt”.  The simple answer is time and practice.  This isn’t exactly what you wanted to hear but what you expected, isn’t it?  After asking my instructor and other basic research the average blue belt takes 3 years to get a purple belt.  But you are pumped up right now.  You say to yourself, as I do, “but I’m not average”.  The fact that you are out looking for what the requirements are and trying to start working towards your purple belt helps reinforce that.  After all the average time for a white belt to blue belt is 1.5 years and you did it in less, didn’t you?  So you will achieve your purple belt sooner then 3 years.  This is how I plan to do it.  I hope my ideas inspire and help you to pass your purple belt test early.

  1. Keep a Jiu-Jitsu Journal.
  2. Learn the purple belt techniques. (Pedro Sauer Purple Belt Test)
  3. Create a daily drill routine.
  4. Research the greats. (My favorites Roger Gracie, Saulo Ribeiro, and Andre Galvao)
  5. Attend Another Dojo, School, or Academy
  6. Mentor a white belt.
  7. Set Goals.

By clicking on any one of these you will go to the article that gives specifics on what I’ve planned for myself.

Please feel free to add your comments or ask me questions.

Ki belt vs. Koral belt – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

After hard work and time I have achieved blue belt.  I was awarded a Ki belt at the test.  It was a little small for me.  It gave me the look of Baby Huey when I had it on.  It was thin and flimsy.  I decide there had to be something better.  I had just bought my first real Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Kimono (Koral MKM Urban Camo Kimono) and decided that I should get a belt from Koral (click to see).  I was a little skeptical about the Koral belts at first. Koral Color Belts As you can see in the picture it doesn’t give much detail.  Koral belts were going for roughly $20 plus shipping where as the Ki sold for $5 plus shipping.  I didn’t want to have another flimsy belt with a know brand name on it.  Koral is made in Brazil and Ki is made in China.  I decided to take a chance and get a blue Koral but now how to pick the right size?  There was no belt size chart to help me.  I finally decided to go with the same size as my kimono or gi.  In short order my belt arrived in the mail.  I quickly took it out and compared it to my Ki and old HSU white belt.  My new Koral was longer then my Ki, to my relief, but shorter then my old HSU white belt.  I tried it on with my gi and it looked good.  The quality of the belt is much better too.  It is thicker and has the black ends for strips.  I guess you get what you pay for.  I recommend the Koral belt over Ki.

My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt Testing Experience

Saturday, July 11th 2009 I passed my blue belt test at Unified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Pedro Sauer Team.  The test lasted 3 hours in the heat of July.  Shawn Weaver and James Gardner, black belts, conducted the test.  There were 12 of us taking the test that day.  The test consisted of 88 techniques.  We divided up into 2 lines of 6, each with a partner.  Shawn would then ask us to do a technique from the list.  He would demonstrate the starting position of the technique with James.  We would all then begin doing the technique we thought he wanted.  He and James would then walk around observing and in some cases instructing.  He would then stop all of us and demonstrate the technique on James that he expected to have seen.  He would point out the finer points and the street application of the technique.  After the test was finished we paid our testing fee of $50 and waited for the results.  Shawn and James came out with belts and we lined up.  The belts were awarded for those who passed and each was given a congratulatory throw.  All 12 of us passed.  Shawn spoke to the group after the test and said he had been looking at our “movements”.  That is how he decided if we understood enough to pass.

My Tips for a successful test:

  1. Have your testing fee in cash.  Waiting after a long hot test for someone to write a check can be aggravating.
  2. Come and warm up ahead of time.  I came a 1/2 early and was invited to join the class in progress.  I took the time to warm up and get ready for the test.
  3. Try to be towards the front of the class during the test.  You don’t want to keep repeating the technique over and over.  You want them to see you right off and “check you off”.
  4. Know the names of the techniques on the test.  It shows you have studied them.  It is impressive when you are the first and only one to know what you are doing right off while the others mill around unsure.  Even if you do a different variation of what they wanted it still says you are skilled and ready to pass as you show them you can do both.
  5. Don’t show off.  Just do what they ask and ask questions only as needed.  Your knowledge and skill will show forth in your technique.
  6. Relax and let your muscles do what you have trained them for. Don’t think just do what you have been doing.

 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt Test – Pedro Sauer

The time has come at last!  My instructor (Mark) says I’m ready to test for Blue Belt.  I’ll be testing July 11, 2009 at Pedro Sauer’s first school, Unified, in Sandy, Utah.  I am feeling ready!  I’ve notice in the past month how much easier it is to pick up new moves or techniques.  I’ve also started to see how things can flow together or transition into something else.

The test covers 88 different techniques.  I have tried to match up every thing on the list with what is shown in Renzo and Royler Gracie’s book: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Theory and Technique (click to see the book).  Here is what I have so far:

1. Tie The Belt (BJJ T&T pg. 30)

2. Roll Forward (BJJ T&T pg. 32)

4. Bridge (UPA) (BJJ T&T pg. 34)

7. Elbow Escape Movements (3 Options) (BJJ T&T pg. 88)

8. Stand Up in Base (BJJ T&T pg. 152) ???

9. Two-Handed Choke Defense (BJJ T&T pg. 38)

10. Same Side Wrist Grab Escape (BJJ T&T pg. 40)

11. Two-Hand Wrist Grab Escape (BJJ T&T pg. 44)

12. One-Hand Lapel Grab Defense (Straight Arm) (BJJ T&T pg. 112)

17. Front Kick Defense (BJJ T&T pg. 60)

20. T-Position Hip Throw (BJJ T&T pg. 46)

26. Upa with Choke Defense (BJJ T&T pg. 58)

28. Basic Cross Choke  (BJJ T&T pg. 50)

29. Basic Cross Choke from Mount  (BJJ T&T pg. 193)

34. Kimura (From Guard) (BJJ T&T pg. 96)

37. Cross Choke Defense in the Guard (Squeeze the

Bread) (BJJ T&T pg. 56) ???

39. Scissor Sweep to Mount (BJJ T&T pg. 64)

40. Armlock from Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 130)

41. Triangle from Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 124)

42. Guillotine Choke from Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 104)

I will add more as I document them.  For now here is what I have of the 88.  I hope this helps.  I will also blog later about what the test was like.  I’m a little nervous.  It would have been nice to read a post from someone who had taken the test at Unified before hand.