Progressing through the ranks in Jiu-Jitsu is a long, long process and students who want to get to their next as fast as possible often get burned when they realise that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
You often hear the term “well deserved belt” but what does that really mean?
A simple way of understanding it is when a teammate gets promoted by the instructor and the unanimous feeling in the team is “Well that was about time!”.
It is often a thin line between sandbagging and the instructor knowing when it’s time to pass to the next belt…
Sandbagging is a term used in martial arts to denote a practitioner who competes at a skill-bracket deemed less rigorous than their actual level of competitive ability. The term is adopted similarly in golf and various forms of racing. In contrast to these sports however, it remains unclear whether the grappling “sandbagger” necessarily does so intentionally. For example, in Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where competition is generally divided by belt rank, a practitioner is conventionally not allowed to choose his or her own ranking and thus must compete at a level predetermined by his or her instructor. In this case, the instructor doesn’t promote the student on purpose because they want them to rack up the most medals possible at their current belt level.
If the instructor is ‘sandbagging’ a student in order for them to win as many medals as possible in competition, that means that they are a great competitor but maybe other parts of their Jiu-Jitsu game are lacking: humility, helping teammates, other parts of game need to be worked on. Every instructor has their own set of criteria and maybe the student doesn’t fulfil them yet.
The outspoken ADCC champion Vinny Magalhaes wrote his thoughts on what he defines as a well deserved belt.
He is known for speaking his mind and spoke with no filter.
He wrote on his Facebook:
If you follow me, you might’ve seen me randomly posting something sarcastic about Belt promotions in BJJ, and the reason why I do it, it’s because nowadays we see a lot of people receiving their belts without some type of consistency, without having a real reason to receive that “well deserved” message that people like to leave on their comments, without even thinking deeply if it was really that well deserved.
In my opinion, to get through any belt, you have to have consistency, and consistency isn’t just about have 200 assigned classes on your attendance card (by the way, I don’t have those at my gym, because I know when you’re coming to class,plus attendance and improvement not always walk together). Being consistent is a combination of things. Of course that be at the gym counts, but what’s the point of being at the gym if you’re not giving 100% during the warm ups, or giving 100%!during the technical portion of each class, if you’re not evolving, if you’re not sharing your knowledge to lower ranked students, or you’re not giving 100% in competition for those that like and have the time to compete?
Belt should be about all these things that I mentioned Except just about “time”. If you’ve been training for 10 years or more, but you can’t be consistent in any of these things that I mentioned, good luck at getting any belt from me, you’ll even need to be even luckier to be getting a BLACK BELT from me…In all fairness, it might never happen.
With all that being said, last night I promoted @chance_the_grappler to Black Belt.
Chance isn’t your 19 year old kid that’s doing nothing but training BJJ, he has to run his own business, has a family that more than rightfully he has to spend time with, but even with all these life responsibilities, he still found time to compete in well over 22 BJJ competitions over the last two years alone, and has won or placed in every event that he has competed in, Including winning multiple gold medals at US Nationals, Master Worlds, No Gi Worlds, etc.
That’s the type of person that I’ll see a “well deserved” comment on his post, and I’ll say “you’re damn right, it was well deserved!”