A few years back, the BJJ community revolted when finding out that a BJJ academy in Texas, Team Pittman BJJ was promoting children to ‘Junior black belts’. Some are even 7th degree Junior BJJ black belts.
One year onwards, Mr Pittman has ignored widespread criticism and continued to promote children to black belts in Jiu-Jitsu as you can see on his academy’s Facebook page .
This practice happens in other martial arts such as Karate and Taekwondo where Instructors sell belts in order to keep students and make money at the same time, but is NOT part of BJJ tradition and rules.
In BJJ, there is no such thing as ‘junior black belt’. It has never existed. There are well defined belt rankings that should be followed, according to Federation rules.
Many major BJJ personalities were against Pittman’s actions, including Renzo Gracie, who made the following statement on the matter:
“What is a black belt? It is a tool that can influence people in a positive way, and a child is not ready for this. Unless the child is a Buddha or Jesus Christ. “
BJJEE was contacted by T. Lee a bjj black belt under Julio Cesar of GFTeam, and www.m3fight.com. He is also a 4th degree judo/jujitsu black belt member of the IBJJF, USJJO, USJA, UAEJJF, JJIF, and NABJJF.
Mr Lee’s article is in support of Mr. Pittman and his system and choices. He himself does not believe in 8 year old black belts, but Mr Pittman’s logic does make sense to him due to the time we live in. This is a reality check to all black belts who are casting stones but will soon do the same:
“Here is an answer in support of the junior black belts article that was posted on February 24, 2015. This answer is going to anger a lot of my fellow BJJ black belts, and it should. With the current state of jiu-jitsu right now most practitioners are only studying a piece of the art. Many academies solely focus on teaching moves and techniques that will only score points in a tournament. Jiu-jitsu is a full defense art which has an answer to any situation one might find their self in. Most practitioners learn only ground techniques that are great and beautiful when pulled off in competition, but have no combat value. To have a full understanding of jiu-jitsu one must know how to strike, throw, grapple, and defend against attacks of such. If we divide jiu-jitsu into a pie and all 3 parts of that pie must be taught and known, how many practitioners could shade them in? From what I have seen these days I don’t that believe many folks could.
Children learn faster and have less fear of things than adults. Learning throws scares most adults that start jiu-jitsu because of the highlight videos they see on YouTube done by judokas. In judo teenagers are allowed to receive shodan (1st degree black belt) by age 15 and most of them know judo. In wrestling if you compete at varsity level in high school that is equivalent to being a shodan or black belt. The sports of judo and wrestling have children begin as early as 4 years old and competing by 5. If a child knows his basic throws or ne waza then they can be as effective as an adult with their peers. Black belt should mean leadership and if that is what they are among their peers then what is the big deal.
Black belts in jiujitsu, it is time to take a long look in the mirror and place the blame on self. It is you who has let jiu-jitsu become like Taekwondo. You are the ones that have giving out black belts to men who jump guard and sit on their bottoms like cowards, Masters Fadda, Takeo Yano, Geo Oromi, Maeda, Satake, Jigoro Kano, Irmaos Ono, and Irmaos Gracie are rolling in their graves for what all of you have let this great self-defense system become. There is nothing wrong with competition, but dividing the art and choosing not to teach it as one is a shame. The junior black belt is a great wake up call to bring back teaching real full jiu-jitsu the way it was meant to be. So more juniors should be promoted until we get our heads out of you know where.”