Rickson Gracie has been traveling the world, doing a series of seminars. But one prominent thing about him is that he was spotted wearing his old coral belt and not the red belt that he was given two years ago.
It’s important to note Rickson was given the red belt by his older brother Rorion Gracie several years shy of the actual outlined red belt requirement.
According to Renzo and Royler Gracie, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu the red belt is reserved “for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art”. It is awarded in lieu of a ninth and tenth degree black belt. If a practitioner receives his or her black belt at 19 years old, the earliest they could expect to receive a ninth degree red belt would be at the age of 67. Brazilian jiu-jitsu red belt holders are often addressed within the art by the title grandmaster.
Just earlier in the summer Renzo Gracie commented he would not be accepting the red belt if he was Rickson
“Rickson can and deserves to wear the belt he wants. He can. And he deserves it. But if I were in his place, I wouldn’t have accepted it. “
However his initial reaction to the red belt was positive:
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He changed his mind. In this interview featuring Rickson Gracie, Renzo Gracie, Matt Serra and Jim Norton, they called up Rickson and asked him to explain exactly why he refused the red belt that Rorion gave him.
So Rickson Gracie was promoted to red belt by his brother Rorion, but he’s still wearing his coral belt. When Rickson did a seminar here in the US, someone asked him why he wasn’t wearing the red belt. He said it was a tough call for him to accept the promotion because it was his brother who decided it.
Rickson thinks jiu jitsu is missing something – like a group of experienced people who can independently decide who gets promoted to red belt and when. He didn’t feel right just taking the promotion from his brother alone. Rickson wants there to be a more formal process beyond just one person making that call, even if it is a close family member. Pretty interesting perspective from such a legend in the sport.