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

Gracie University – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Online

Did you know you can get up to a brown belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu online?  I didn’t until today.  At GracieUniversity.com you watch videos of everything you need to learn.  You video tape your self doing the techniques with some one and mail it in.  What a revolutionary idea.  My questions are, what kind of quality of brown belt will you get in the end?  Does it really substitute for in person training?  I like the chat room that is enabled with each video clip so that you can chat with others about what you are working on.  It also has a online instructor to ask questions about what you are working on.  These are both great ideas.  I wonder if they would accept your submission or test video if you don’t have anyone to work with and only use a grappling dummy?

Please let me know your experience with Gracie University.  I would especially like to hear from some one who has tested for a belt through this system.

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.