One of the most commonly searched queries on wbbjj.com are about promotions and belt ranks.
Our martial art is unique in that it takes much more time to master than any other art yet there are fewer belts along the way than other arts provide.
Some people earn black belts in 4 years. Some people spend 7 years at blue belt.
Every single BJJ artist has a different path to follow to the milestone of black belt.
Some practitioners feel that they are winning tournaments but not being promoted. They are dominating in the gym but not being promoted. These same people will tell you that they “aren’t worried about being promoted” usually.
Even though you should just be happy to be rolling and improving and having a great time doing so, here are 10 reasons that perhaps you are being intentionally held back by your coach, even though you are a black belt in your own mind 😄.
1) Keeping Score – You might think that telling your coach how you tapped out a higher belt in practice is going to help your advancement, when in reality it will have the opposite effect. Jiu-Jitsu is not just about being able to submit others. It is an art that demands certain levels of finesse and understanding to advance through the ranks. Not caring about taps is a skin usually shed before purple belt.
2) Not Having A Go To Move – White and blue belt are the times for experimentation and trying out new moves to see what works best for you. As you start to approach purple belt though you should have some position or submission that you are known for. At a certain point you should be feared from a particular position or situation.
3) Avoiding New Positions – Are you afraid to do Jiu-Jitsu off of your back? Do you avoid new guards out of fear of being passed or submitted in the training room? Your coach probably notices. A BJJ Black belt has to have experience with all positions. Expertise can exist in various areas but a working knowledge of all areas must eventually be attained.
4) Sticking To Your Go To Submission – Once you develop your go to move are you afraid to deviate from it? Do you always fall back to your “same old move”?
5) Never Doing Conditioning – Do you put in any effort to improve your physical fitness outside of BJJ class? Although it is certainly not mandatory improving your physical attributes in terms of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning will absolutely improve your BJJ and take your game to the next level.
6) Neglecting Fundamentals – There are a tons of wild and flashy Jiu-Jitsu moves that are vastly more fun than cross choke from full guard. If you are a white or blue belt you should be focused on having a solid foundation of firm fundamentals before moving on to advanced open guard, worm guard, etc. You may thinking that you deserve to get a blue belt because you can berimbolo. How is your americana (paintbrush) from mount? How deep can you go with the details of the basic moves of BJJ?
7) Not Having Takedowns – Even though the bulk of our martial art takes place on the ground at some point you are going to have to learn some takedowns. Pulling guard counts, but only so much.
8) Never Drilling – Do you show up right before sparring starts, intentionally missing the drilling portion of class? This is just signalling to your coach that you already know it all and are through the improving.
9) Only Training When You Feel Your Best – Do you show up only on bright, sunny days when the flowers are in bloom or gorgeous starlit evenings? Do you miss class for every little “dent and ding”? Never train injured but BJJ is about developing a sense of toughness and overcoming adversity so you need to show up when it is cold and grey, and when you are sore from a previous workout.
10) Not Understanding Self Defense – Do you have gold medals from the IBJJF but can’t escape a headlock or block a punch? Jiu-Jitsu is a well rounded, dare say I, the MOST well rounded martial art that there is. Therefor one must be able to demonstrate that they can defend themselves against an unwanted attacker in order to advance, even if you have a rack full of medals.
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