Advice For Those Who Feel They Aren’t Being Promoted In BJJ


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu isn’t unlike a lot of ventures in the aspect that no one sets out to do it to be average. Sure, the path to greatness is a tough road to hoe–and you’re most likely years behind in rank and experience to the competitors your age. But that doesn’t mean that your Jiu Jitsu Journey is irrelevant, or that you shouldn’t pursue your aspirations to be great. When you’re first starting out it feels like you’re not improving, not learning, and just overall not getting better. It’s hard to gauge yourself that way, but there are some tips and tricks that are out there to help. The most obvious way to tell how good you are–or how good anyone is–is their belt rank.

As you know by now: everyone starts off as a White Belt. As illustrated above, you’ll note the belt order (which is always correct), and the estimated time frames at that belt (which isn’t always correct). Traditionally, the recipe stripes based on time served on the mats with a dash of noticeable improvement and, maybe, some extra effort awards for doing things for your school/BJJ community—such as higher ranks volunteering to referee tournaments, fill in to teach classes, etc. But regardless of all of that, your promotion is at the discretion of your instructor.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it, though. As a matter of fact, you should be doing something to encourage your promotion(s). By that I mean doing something more than just showing up to class. While I do understand that not everyone can be as committed to BJJ as the next guy, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not try to improve and push yourself. You may want to consider training/drilling with higher ranked partners so that you’re forcing yourself to train at a higher level. (ProTip: Clear it with that person before class & ask for help. It’s impolite for a lower rank to impose those kinds of situations on a higher rank.) Another fun way to put yourself out there is to compete in tournaments. Generally speaking, your instructor would love to see you take the risk and demonstrate what you know all for the sake of the art that they (and you) love–and they’re fun!

As much as it sucks, you can even be doing all of that and still not be getting the promotion that you feel you deserve and that you’re owed. Hang around long enough and you’ll see it in your gym. There are guys out there who preform way beyond their rank and yet are stuck in this rut of not getting promoted. Let’s be clear, there is no simple explanation for that. But I do think that it’s obvious that there’s a disconnect between you and the powers that be that can award you that next strip of medical tape for your stripe, or new belt. Under no circumstances should you directly ask your instructor for your promotion. *Read that last sentence out loud 5 times.* But there are ways to finding out what it is that you may need to do, or what they’re looking for out of you to get you to that next level. Some helpful tips can be:

-Asking another instructor at your school, not the head, what you can do to get better
-Start attending more classes [Many schools have classes by difficulty level, turn up the heat]
-Pushing a little harder during class. Meaning no slacking on warm-ups, drills, and yes, going a little harder during rolls.
-Compete in local, and maybe not-so-local, tournaments. Finishing high proves things to everyone. Even if you feel you’re better than that rank, show ’em, prove
it, seek & destroy.




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