How To Tell If Your BJJ Instructor Is A Legit Black Belt
Generally speaking, earning a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires more time than any other martial art. Most will tell you that it takes an average of ten years to earn Jiu Jitsu’s highest rank. If you want to receive the best possible instruction for your money, you will want to make sure that the lead instructor of the academy that you choose is legitimate.
BJJ is growing in popularity and has been outshining other martial arts in terms of growth and attendance. This leads purveyors of other martial arts to have the desire to slap on a black belt with a red bar and claim that they are a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor. Boy is that a terrible decision to make.
A Kung Fu instructor could probably throw on a Karate Black Belt and no one would be none the wiser. You try that jive in BJJ and you will have your name go viral throughout the growing Jiu Jitsu web. The moment you are caught faking, your name will be blasted out to hundreds of thousands of people, within hours.
Here is one of the most recent examples of a fake black belt being exposed:
And of course our meme that ensued:
How can you be sure that your instructor, or potential instructor is legit? How do you find an academy nearby that offers legitimate instruction?
The first step for you would be to do a Google, Bing or Yahoo search for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies in your area. Keep in mind that proximity is not the only factor in searching for the best BJJ school for you. It is worth the extra driving time to receive proper instruction.
Each academy’s page will inform you who the head instructor is. After you determine the name of the instructor, search the web for their name to ascertain their BJJ lineage.
All Roads Lead To Gracie
If the instructor that you have searched doesn’t have Helio Gracie or Carlos Gracie at the root of their lineage, this would be an immediate warning sign (there are a handful of exceptions). These gentleman have Japanese predecessors which we can discuss later, but for now, focus your attention on these two.
So long as the instructor of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy can trace their sources back to Helio and Carlos, they should be legit. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a sport is still a young one, so it is very easy to pinpoint exactly where someone learned their Jiu Jitsu.
The age of the internet has led to the rise of some handy online resources which can simplify your searching for the perfect academy, and for ensuring that your instructor is a legit Black Belt. Some academies may be owned and operated by Purple and Brown Belts. This is not a cause for alarm so long as they are directly affiliated with a recognized Black Belt who regularly visits the academy to ensure that the instruction and promotions are legitimate and in order.
I highly recommend using BJJ Tree to easily locate your instructor and their lineage.
Here are some other tips to help you in deciding if an instructor is legitimate or not:
Scan the net for interviews, videos or other media regarding a potential instructor. Are they regarded well? If you are at an academy now, does the instructor have any personal accolades on display? Competition isn’t mandatory for legitimate instruction but can certainly be a solid indicator of skill level and community involvement.
Has your instructor or potential instructor competed in the IBJJF, ADCC, Pans or other major tournament? If it is an MMA academy where oftentimes Jiu Jitsu is found, has the instructor or instructors competed in MMA? If the instructor hasn’t competed, has their students? How do the students fare when competing? If the competitive body of an academy performs well at tournaments, this is a good indicator of solid Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instruction with a legitimate Black Belt at the helm.
If you still have questions after this article contact us on social media and we will do our best to help you out! Good Luck!