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Earn It!

Promotions in Jiu-Jitsu are a very strange thing. I see some gyms promote students based on attendance, some based on performance with a special emphasis in competitions. I see other gyms promote based on the head professors desire to build a team at which point it has nothing to do with Jiu-Jitsu. The point is that there is really no set standard with the exception of age and time. For those who are unfamiliar with the Jiu-Jitsu belt system let me give you a brief run down.

This system is broken down in to two major parts. First you have the kids belt system. In Jiu-Jitsu every student starts off as a white belt. Kids under the age of 16 can only earn the highest rank of green belt with a black stripe. Students who start around 6 years old will start with a white belt. After a significant amount of time, again based on that academy, the student will progress to grey belt, then yellow, followed by orange and green. Students must be at least 7 years old to earn the yellow belt. Students must be at least 10 years old to reach the rank of orange belt, and then 13 to earn green. So a student will have each belt for an average of 2 to 3 years. Students are not eligible for the adult belt system until they are 16. Adult students like kids will start out as a white belt. The next belt is blue, then purple, followed by brown and black. If an adult starts after the age of 16 they can reasonable expect a 10+ year journey to black belt. Kids who start at say 6 years old can expect nearly a 20 year journey to black. Just as a example my son started training at 4 years old. At 16 he is now a blue belt after 12 years of training. He will get his purple belt around 18 years of age, brown around 20 and black belt around 22. That will put him training for 18 years before he gets his black belt.

Why is that important? Because one of the most common questions we get is how long does it take to get a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I always tell people that is the wrong question. The question should be, “How long does it to get better at Jiu-Jitsu?” It seems as though we live in a time where everything is right now. I can’t tell you the number of times people will say to a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, “my son has only been training for 2 years in karate and he is already a 1st degree black belt.” My question to people like that is always the same. “What does that mean?” Is the belt really worth anything? Does the belt protect you? Does the belt have magical powers that suddenly elevate ones ability to defend themselves? Not to go off on a rant, but I believe that promoting a child to black belt is irresponsible. A 6 year old cannot possible understand that they do not possess the ability to fight or defend themselves simply because they memorized certain moves. I have personally seen kid karate black belts come to our gym and get destroyed by smaller white belts and they leave discouraged. I tell people all the time if you see somewhere called a (Black Belt Academy) then you need to run. If the belt is the goal the gym is wrong.

The point is that our quest should be knowledge and never a belt.

My encouragement for you today is to find a way to better yourself with any knowledge. Surround yourself with people who are better than you at whatever it is you want to accomplish. Push yourself to get better. Never quit because it is hard. Don’t look for shortcuts. In the end you will be so proud of your accomplishments because you know that they have been earned and not paid for or given.

Now go train!

Professor Nathan

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