Been Thinking about Belts and What They Mean

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by Pretty In Pink, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Because there are so few belts in BJJ you often find that you can tell someones belt level simply by rolling with them. That line really starts to blur at brown and black belt. I found it really hard to distinguish what black belts did when I was a purple belt. It became less about technique and more about decision making/thought process. As a brown belt I find that I still don't have a very set "game" or style. I use no guards save perhaps butterfly and I have like 3 guard passes. The panic sort of started when I realised I'm a few years off my black belt and starting my own gym and I'm not at the same level as my instructor. There are still basic things I can't do right and would feel awkward teaching because of it. Some things I've practiced for years and still struggle with the feel of it. d'arce chokes and reverse triangles. I'll catch inexperienced folk but if someone knows how long they can hold out before a tap I often won't get it.

    So now I'm left wondering what the difference between a black belt and a brown belt even is? It's so hard to distinguish.
  2. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I think that at purple/brown you can be very successful in rolling by having a well developed game
    However, an instructor needs to have a breadth of knowledge & experience so they can teach things that are outside of their game
    This allows their students to develop a game that is optimal for them (& therefore different to the blackbelt)

    Of course more mat time = more experience and better timing/decision making etc, but I feel that if you're wanting to run an academy then the step to black belt should be about becoming able to teach others

    We have a lot of black belts at our place who don't teach and perhaps the expectations are different if you're not running classes etc
  3. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I couldn't tell you what that means in BJJ, but it looks like you answered your own question: closing up those holes in your game.

    I think it's something of a universal that good students work to their strengths, but outstanding students work hard to identify weakness and rectify it.

    Also, I think imposter syndrome is pretty much universal when you get to the skill level you used to look up to as a beginner, and no-one is a great instructor out-of-the-gate. Learning to teach is another separate journey and you have to accept the fact that you will make mistakes, but you have to learn from them without beating yourself up too much about it. You definitely won't be up to the standard of someone who's been doing it for years when you first start out.
  4. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    It seems to be a common scenario in BJJ, because the skillset is so broad and evolving. To be proficient you can work on a particular game, but it seems that there is so much to be able to use in practise, let alone teach to people of varying body types and mentality.

    It's hard not to compare yourself to others of similar belt level, despite everyone often stating to only compare to your own progress, when you get on the mat and train with someone, or see someone training, I always feel that it can be a mental battle to make that differentiation.

    Discussing high level fights and BJJ black belt styles with the coach and team remotely recently, has made me realize how often even at high level, parts of the game are not that high in standard, because they don't need to be. e.g. escape from back may not be as well developed in some as their game rarely leads to being in that position with someone at a similar level.
    But I'm sure those practitioners are more than capable of teaching those techniques to a class.
    Mangosteen likes this.
  5. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yeah I think I could show a lot of things no problem but when it comes to submissions I just feel like I'm not there with it yet except the ones I'm comfortable with.

    I think the impostor syndrome is real. The difficulty is that there are no brown belts from when I was a blue belt or whatever so I can't compare. I'm confident that I'm way better than myself previously though, which is good. I think it's like everything in life. You see an exalted position and then you get there but nothings changed.
    David Harrison, axelb and Dunc like this.
  6. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    Unless we're talking top level competitors there mostly isn't one, IMO. After a few years at purple most people have peaked in terms of actual rolling ability and the remainder will be some mixture of teaching/time in grade/social reasons etc. etc.
  7. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    P.S. On variety of submissions, IMHO the chokes from the back (RNC and whichever collar one you favour) are the only things that are semi compulsory. Two or three others you can hit at your own level is plenty and the maximum you'll see most people actually do. World class Judoka will tell you they only really know a couple of throws, but for some reason in BJJ there's this weird idea that part-timers should be throwing up the encyclopedia.
  8. Matt F

    Matt F Valued Member

    My instructor was talking about this once and from what I remember and from his own perspective, he said that when he asked his coach on one of his travels to Brazil as a brown belt what he needed to do, he was told to work on being good both sides, left and right. Not necessarily the exact same technique both sides, but something strong that can be done on either side from most, if not all ,positions. For example ...being able to pass guard and combine passes on both sides, a closed guard submission attack on their right or left side..etc etc.

    Another thing he said was that up to purple and maybe brown, I have forgotten, he said he was a guard player. But then at some point, because he is 6 foot plus tall and weighs over 100 kg and was prompted to or decided to ...he went on to develop and become more of a top, pressure type of player.....get on top...stay on top ( which is a great rule to follow for anyone) .Add this to his already well developed guard game, and a new overall level is reached.
    In other words, explore things that are opposite to what a person might think their game is

    Just some ideas that may be useful.
    Smitfire and Pretty In Pink like this.
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Disclaimer - not a student of BJJ but I like the topic

    As an instructor in KMA, I always looked at the color belts (white through brown and even 1st dan) as 'book marks in the curriculum' and focused on students learning the 'whole' curriculum, including those techniques that may seem not to fit well with your own style necessarily. I would encourage them to sift out what works best for them, but also require that they 'knew' the other techniques as well. The reason being is that as a student transitions from 'student' to 'instructor' (who remains a student also), the focus starts to switch a bit from 'how will this improve me?' to 'how can I help others improve?' Having the knowledge of the whole curriculum then becomes very necessary to help others apply the bits that will work better for them.

    I think one of the big transitions we see for new instructors is being able to say "I don't know... let's try a few things". A lot of instructors get hung up on trying not to look like they don't know everything. For me, there are some things in the art(s) that don't work for me, but they work well for others and knowing the basics of the techniques allows me to show them, often with the disclaimer of 'try this, it doesn't work well for me (or I don't do it as well as I'd like) but it may be good for you... try it out." And then, I can use my experience to guide them through making it work, or deciding that it doesn't fit well. I am never to scared to say "Wow! You do that better than I do... what's your secret?"
    aaradia and StooXex like this.
  10. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    That’s not my experience. I’m sure that most people plateau at some point, but I see purple, brown and black belts making noticeable gains by refining things, experimenting, learning from the top people etc etc
  11. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    My instructor was a brown belt for like 8 years. So theres still a significant difference I would say. And he's direct from Mauricio and Roger.
    He got his first BB stripe after 2 years. Altho he jokes that he got held back because he kept heel hooking Roger in sparring.
    I been a white belt for ages, but then again Ive had rough run, a year off due to surgery and also another year off due to life issues. And I see guys getting blue belts within a year/18 months.

    Then you got guys who been out competing and at purple belt been tapping out black belts.

    And then theres Nicky Rod .

    You'll be fine dude and would enroll in your school easy.
    axelb and Pretty In Pink like this.
  12. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I sure as hell don't want to be stuck for 8 years at brown belt. I was a purple belt for like almost 4 years. Now I want to blast through this one too. I reckon competing will really expose the holes.
    Mushroom likes this.
  13. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Check out this guy
    Jed Hue — mindbodyandroll

    Tapping out black belts at purple. 5 years training. Would've seen him on Polaris.

    I don't want to be 3 years into white belt...but here I am, giving randoms a tour of suplex city.
    axelb and Dead_pool like this.
  14. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    There's a big difference between the extreme right hand side of the normal distribution curve, and the middle bit where the majority of practitioners are, and of course having a MMA focus, means your time is spent doing very worthwhile things, that don't always relate to ability in a IBJJF match.

    Everyone I Know who's a higher grade, has a very sharp A game, as well as a wide B game so they can deal with most situations in a technically correct way.

    Whereas I just spam kimura traps and backsteps as often as possible. I should probably stop that at somepoint!
    axelb and Dunc like this.
  15. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yeah I've heard of Jedays. I've seen some guys here in my own country tap black belts whilst they're a purple belt. I think after purple belt there are no easy rolls anyway.
  16. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I also feel that with no-gi there is greater scope for lower belts with lost of athleticism to tap higher belts
    axelb and Dead_pool like this.
  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I feel attacked! Screenshot_20200426-170251_Instagram.jpg
    Mangosteen, axelb and Dead_pool like this.
  18. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    He said you were athletic!

    That's almost a compliment.....

    So how much do you weigh?

  19. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    I think as the gi can be a force multiplier that definitely can be true, when it's not there, you can really miss it, it doesn't help often with age, people often don't train that much Nogi, I just train whatever I can now, and roll super safely, don't want to get suplexed by that three year white belt who's wrestled before!
    Mushroom, Dunc and axelb like this.
  20. Unreal Combat

    Unreal Combat Valued Member

    As someone who has been in this boat the past 5 years, I can only testify to this. You will make mistakes as a teacher, just learn from it and move on. You only get better through exposure & experience.

    First time I taught at a MAP Meet was terrifying. I was completely out of my comfort zone and some questions people asked me that I knew the answers to, I choked when answering just from nerves and anxiety alone.

    Teaching is a completely different skillset to training.
    Dunc, bassai, David Harrison and 2 others like this.

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