Written December 13, 2013 by Brian Ruscio
This is NOT a parable about a Tiger earning his stripes… but it WOULD make for a great hyperbole…
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has traditionally been known for it’s higher demand on achieving new belt levels. There are only 4 belt levels after white belt for students 16 years old and over. It’s widely known that the “average” practitioner that reaches Black Belt level does so in about 10 years. Some “above average” students may achieve ranks in less time. In this understanding we can see that each stripe could easily take 6 months to achieve. Meaning that one could be a white belt for up to 2 years on average. Unheard of in other martial arts, but that is what makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so great. When you EARN a belt or stripe, you KNOW IN YOUR HEART, YOU EARNED IT! In fact, I personally know Brown Belts that have been at that level for 10 years, and white belts that have been so for 9+ years. If your instructor is handing stripes out to people on a more than “average” basis, you need to question the standards that are being set or the intentions of his promoting students.
Sandbagging is a separate issue and refers to instructors intentionally holding their students belt rank back simply to acquire gold medals in tournaments and to hide their true skill level or to avoid the expectations that come with certain belt ranks. This should also be discouraged.
Progression in BJJ is a very personal thing and is unique to each student. It is represented by the stripes and belt ranks, but is realized through a personal relationship between your instructor and you. Stripes are not to be given to promote the coach’s school or to accumulate as many high ranking belts as he can. They are not meant to “buy you” as a student. A stripe is supposed to recognize your hard work, perseverance, and understanding of the skills that are being taught. They take time and are not to be rushed. Was your last stripe easy to get?
“Everyone remembers their first stripe.”
How long did it take you to get yours? How hard did you have to work at your new academy to reach that milestone? Each stripe is a milestone, not just the belt levels. Each stripe is hard work, harder than the last. It is a personal journey guided by your instructor, there to help you in the tough times.
Coming into the New Year, let’s set some goals to reach new levels! Let’s progress in our “BJJ Game” and show other schools that OUR STRIPES ARE EARNED, NOT GIVEN!!!
“Work Hard, Focus, Persevere, Move Forward!” – Brian Ruscio
Grappling Mastery, Where stripes are earned… and Belts aren’t given…