Eastern Europe BJJ. The full post may be read here. Enjoy.
is universally known one of the best kept secrets in Jiu-Jitsu. The New
Zealand born, BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie has been praised by the
BJJ community as being a master and brain of the art. Danaher is a
highly intelligent individual, who has a Master degree in philosophy,
and is totally focused on the evolution and improvement of Jiu-Jitsu. He
is also the submission coach of none other than former UFC Welterweight
Champion George Saint Pierre. Danaher trains at Renzo Gracie’s Academy
in New York where he also teaches Jiu jitsu.
He wrote a very interesting analysis on the belt system in Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu. This quote is from Mr Danaher,written in Renzo and Roylers
“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,Theory and Technique”:
“Most martial arts have a system of belts or similar ranks by which a
student may assess his level of development. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
tracing its roots back to Maeda’s influence Shares the Japanese system
of belts. The belt system begins with White belt and progresses through
blue,purple,brown,black,and various degrees of black, up to ,red belt
for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the
art.Compared with other styles,there are a relatively low number of belt
grades in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Most styles have different grades within a belt colour,so that one
can be a third stage orange belt,for example.This plentitude of belts
levels ensures that students have a sense of constantly moving
forward,since they are often being given a new level.By way of
contrast,the student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu must often endure long years
holding the same rank.Few make it even to purple belt,with black belt
being truly elite status.
What distinguishes the Brazilian system from others is its extreme
INFORMALITY.There is no precise,agreed upon set of rules that determines
who is a blue belt,who is a purple belt,and so forth.Part of the reason
for this is the complete lack of forms,or kata
(pre-arranged,choreographed sets of movements containing the idealised
movements of the style in question,typically a collection of
kicks,punches,blocks,and the like performed solo),in the Brazilian Jiu
Jitsu system.Most Martial Arts put a lot of emphasis upon learning these
katas,this is often taken to be indicative of progress.One might try to
differentiate grades in terms of numbers of moves that a student knows.
Such a method is clearly inadequate.
It is often pointed out that a purple belt knows almost as many moves
as a black belt – he simply does not perform them as well, or combine
them aswell, or at the correct time. Also, some fighters do very well
with a small collection of moves that they can apply well in any
situation – should they be ranked lower that another fighter who knows a
lot of moves but applies none of them well? A more objective method is
to test fighting skill. If one fighter always defeats another when they
grapple, this might be taken as firm evidence that he deserves the
higher rank. Yet it is not always so simple. What if he is far heavier
and stronger and this is the only reason that he prevails in sparring
sessions? What if he is technically inferior? You can see that there are
no easy answers to the question of what criteria we can offer for a
given belt ranking.
Rather, the extreme informality of the Brazilian style is a direct
reflection of the fact that it is impossible to provide clear cut rules
as to how people ought to be graded. The most we can do is to provide
very general criteria. The individual decision must be left to an
experienced instructor who will take a range of criteria into account.
For example, the size and strength of the student, depth of technical
knowledge, ability to apply it in sparring sessions and competition, how
he compares with students of other ranks both inside and outside his
school, his ability to teach and so on. In general Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
takes a very CONSERVATIVE stance toward promotion. This is a direct
reflection of the fact that it is primarily a fighting style. It makes
no sense to promote someone to a high rank if they cannot fight well –
after all, should a highly ranked fighter be defeated it is a bad
reflection on the school. So then, the two principle features of the
Brazilian ranking system are it’s INFORMALITY and it’s CONSERVATISM.