Do away with the belt system!

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by paulchu, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Commissar

    Commissar Gold Belt

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    That added nothing to this discussion.
     
  2. VanDamme

    VanDamme Green Belt

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    While BJJ is also a martial art, it is also considered a sport.

    In any competitive sport, you need to figure out some method of dividing people into specific divisions with their peers. Other sports that do not use a belt system still do this, as seen when you have collegiate vs high school wrestling, and even divided up further upon weight class and age (i.e. freshman, sophmore, junior, senior).

    Even in the no gi system, people are divided up based on total experience. Since many more people do BJJ than do submission wrestling (since BJJ is more safe in terms of a hobby) and those same people who train for hobbies may not train as much as those who do it for a career. If two people have both trained for 2 years, but one does 2 x a week vs the other who trains 6 x a week, there is going to be a great disparity in skill level between those two fighters.

    The belt system is supposed to give you a general indication of a particular person's skills. People often associate blue with understanding of basic skills and ability to employ the technqiues they know in a live situation, a purple with having a complete game and ability to teach to a degree, a brown as a sort of in between belt who's trying to fine tune his techniques, and finally black belt signifying mastery.

    Since there is a general understanding of what the belt is supposed to signify, its sort of makes things easier for people to rank themselves in the sense that a legit BJJ black belt is a good fighter to learn from.

    It should also be noted that not everyone competes as much as their peers do, but without a belt system, a purple belt could be acknowledged as being better than a black belt because hes won more competitions. When going to a BJJ school as a beginner, to me a purple belt was a black belt, since I didnt understand the game well enough, and the purples could just as well kick my ass as the black belt could. If I didnt know that one was black vs purple, I may not be able to choose my instructor so well.

    While it leaves room for mcdojo, you can only blame individual schools for that- not entire styles. A BJJ black belt is only worth as much as the guy who gave it to that particular person. For instance, when Royce promotes a black belt, hes pretty much saying this guy has all the skills neccessary to be that good and backs it up with his repuation. If you've got a good rep, you'll have respectable black belts and vice versa.

    The other reason is that the gi is one of the main components of training in BJJ. As long as you wear a gi, you'll need a belt to keep it together.
     
  3. wOg

    wOg Burien Top Team

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    I don't mind belts. People who don't like them can always train no-gi. What I don't like are stripes. Some schools have four stripes per belt (at least white, blue and purple). That's fine for kids, but I'd hope adults don't feel so insecure as to need that much validation.

    Besides, after purple, the belts have a meaning that has less to do with pure fighting ability and more a knowledge and wisdom of the art. I can appreciate that.
     
  4. paulchu

    paulchu Guest

    Right, but you obviously missed the entire point i tried to make about any blue belt being able to open up his own BJJ studio with only a blue belt proficiency under the RENZO GRACIE system.

    If that doesn't reek of McDojo potential, I don't know what does.

    I understand the IMPORTANCE of a belt system, but with the explosion of the sport and martial art, does no one see the huge possibility of the belt system being exploited purely for profit? The gaping hole that can possibly turn BJJ into any old TKD/Karate gym? It's easy to have a belt system and very easy to reinforce the rules of it when it is a small body of practitioners, but with the current number of practitioners it isn't.

    Let me make this even easier to understand: realistically, a blue belt with direct instruction under one of the big Gracies vs a brown belt from a no name dude could be at equal proficiency. So what's his brown belt worth?
     
  5. DMcKayBJJ

    DMcKayBJJ Blue Belt

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    Well, then it's like saying what's the difference between a bachelor's degree from Harvard vs. from a state university vs. from an online "questionable" university.

    To get rid of belts in BJJ in order to absolutely prevent McDojoism would be akin to getting rid of bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctorate degrees in order to absolutely prevent crappy universities (let alone bullshit online scam operations) from dishing them out for $495 plus shipping and handling.

    I agree that the more people practice BJJ, the greater the possibility of the belt system becoming less legitimate than it is (e.g. Royce and his blue belts in his network). But to ditch the belt system completely just because of a small minority of McDojo's would be to validate the very existence of such McDojo's (i.e. Harvard deciding not to give out degrees, as they have for over 200+ years, just because Joe's Internet University of the Bahamas gives out degrees, too).

    Sure, if I saw a bunch of diplomas hanging on my doctor's wall, or lawyer's wall, I might be impressed...depending on where they came from. So it's up to me, and everybody else who might be impressed by them, to look further to find out how credible they are, and not just take them on face value.

    That's why at least in BJJ, your training and instruction lineage, in addition to what belt you have, are what is used to determine your credibility (e.g. Gene Simco or whatever his name is)...
     
  6. paulchu

    paulchu Guest

    in the real world, a degree doesn't matter as much as ABILITY. there is nothing that says a harvard graduate would be a smarter, proficient thinker than someone who graduated from a state university. a lot of the top fighters did not train under a Gracie system. Sakuraba's a wrestler, and yet his ground game has proven to be a lot better than the Gracie system.

    CREDIBILITY and ABILITY are different things.
     
  7. blindgod

    blindgod Blue Belt

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    I believe Te(V)plar already said something along the lines of, "Just because TKD/Karate/Kung Fu have screwed up their ranking system is not a reason for BJJ to get rid of theirs".

    I went to a fairly prestigious high school where I worked my ass of to graduate. There was another student whose parents were rich and contributed to the school. He didn't do shit in class. Yet he graduated, same as me. By your argument, the school should get rid of diplomas because there was McDojoism in the school.

    As for the people getting their blue belt through the Gracies, it isn't as if that person is claiming to be an expert. They are claiming to be a blue belt. And if they are better than a brown belt from somewhere else, then so be it. I think everyone is intelligent enough to realize that different instructors teach differently and have different standards. That's what competitions are for.

    Again, I ask, if the belt system were done away with, how would people be paired in competition?

    And say there are no belts. How would you, as someone with no martial arts knowledge, know who is a good person to learn under and who is not?
     
  8. paulchu

    paulchu Guest

    to counter your question, I ask: if a belt system proves superiority, then why have a competition in the first place? why even have competitions at all if the belt system already proves someone is better than another?
     
  9. infamous mattyd

    infamous mattyd Brown Belt

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    whats this about renzo?
     
  10. blindgod

    blindgod Blue Belt

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    I've answered this already in this thread.

    Now answer me.

    Or I'll be forced to release the hounds.
     
  11. DMcKayBJJ

    DMcKayBJJ Blue Belt

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    Yes, they are different things, yet they are related.

    You judge someone's ability (in BJJ, or medicine, or law) based on MANY factors. The credibility of that person's instructors/school is just ONE of those factors. To ignore it would be foolish, and it would also be foolish to look ONLY at that one factor.

    You keep thinking in terms of absolutes...either the belt system works perfectly to prevent McDojoism, or it should be thrown out to prevent McDojoism...either we prevent McDojoism completely or BJJ will be ruined, or once just one McDojo arises then McDojoism will affect ALL BJJ schools eventually...if the belt system indicates ability perfectly then why do we need competitions, etc. etc. etc.

    If you would think more abstractly, you'd realize that there are no such absolutes...in BJJ or in life.

    The BJJ community, despite its growth, has done very well IMO at policing itself when it comes to maintaining the integrity of the belt system, particularly in preventing McDojoism. The more we continue to police ourselves, the less of an effect any McDojo will have. Make no mistake...no matter what you do, with or without belts, there will always be at least one scam artist out there trying to take people's money and teach them BJJ, claiming to be more able/credible than he is. And there will certainly be at least one student out there to fall for it. P.T. Barnum described that idea best...

    It's up to those of us who practice BJJ, the customers, to keep it legit. Once WE start falling for it (McDojoism), then the greater the effect "McDojoism" will have on BJJ.

    Frankly, I think we're doing a good job. Perhaps you don't give BJJ'ers enough credit. For example, how many times do you see someone starting a thread, "Any good schools in (city name)?" Also, most BJJ'er s know about the Gene Simco scuttlebutt, or have heard inklings about the Royce Gracie Network blue belts. And, how about this recent Gracie Barra USA stuff? Don't you think the guys who trained under Carlinhos and Marcio are going to try to stay loyal to them, and not just show up at James Lu's school just so they can say they train at "Gracie Barra USA" regardless of who the instructor is?

    So aside from the notion that a belt system can lead to McDojoism, which arguably will occur with or without belts (and some would say that without belts, the numbers of unscrupulous/crappy schools would INCREASE), my question to you is: What HARM does a belt system do?
     
  12. paulchu

    paulchu Guest

    blindgod, there are many ways in sports to rank people than belts. just turn on ESPN. Or hell, just look at MMA, there are many many ways to rank fighters.

    McKay... I'm posing this problem as a hypothetical situation from a philosophical point of view. I think my points are very valid, and yet everyone on the board (save for two or three) seem to think it's a bad idea, for whatever reason. However, I just like to think I am playing devil's advocate.

    Now, as far as doing a great job, yes, I will agree that BJJ is doing a fantastic job as of right now. But what about the sports' future? What happens when a bunch of blue belts decide to open their own school? Or hell, even break off and start their own style of BJJ (which is how McDojoism started in the first place)?

    The fact of the matter is, there are going to be more and more "satellite" schools in the near and distant future. Who will police these schools that decide to just give out belts? What if one of the satellite schools decide to give someone a brown belt, but in Helio's eyes, he is only at a level of a blue? If you were that person who earned that brown, you'd fight tooth and nail to keep it, despite what the Gracies say. Won't that harm the sport?

    I mean, seriously, even Helio agrees with that notion:

    Helio Gracie, mastermind behind what is today known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, wears a Blue Belt in Brazil. He does this out of protest against the proliferation of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu "experts" and self-proclaimed "Gracie" stylists who are polluting the once clear spring of knowledge that he perfected.

    http://www.gracieacademy.com/worldwide/heliomessage.shtml

    "I want to make clear to the practitioners worldwide that the only method of Jiu-Jitsu teaching that I endorse is the one practiced by my sons Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Rolker, Royler, and Royce." Helio Gracie

    which goes with my brown/blue statement I made earlier.

    But then this opens up a new crossroad.... if Helio's sons are the only true practitioners of the sport, who do you think is getting paid for us to learn BJJ? The Gracies are. Now this does keep the system a little more "pure, but doesn't this kinda remind you of somewhat of a pyramid scheme? Or at least a very strict egalitarian regime.
     
  13. Bubble Boy

    Bubble Boy Black Belt

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    White (beginner), Brown (intermidiate) Black (expert).

    Next question.
     
  14. paulchu

    paulchu Guest

    now there's an answer that makes some sense.... but could you imagine being a brown belt for 7 years?
     
  15. TJS

    TJS Brown Belt

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    BJJ isint MMA. thats the problem..BJJ dosent automatically transfer to mma.
     
  16. jjmuaythaiguy

    jjmuaythaiguy Brown Belt

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    http://www.gracieacademy.com/worldwide/heliomessage.shtml
    "I want to make clear to the practitioners worldwide that the only method of Jiu-Jitsu teaching that I endorse is the one practiced by my sons Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Rolker, Royler, and Royce." Helio Gracie
    [/QUOTE]

    My friends, I am not sure how this thread turned around into a Gracie Jiu Jitsu system against other BJJ teachers that are non-Gracie teachers but as far as belts go, its up to you. Train in the gi or don't.

    I feel that I am lucky that we live in a free world that allows us to train with a teacher who teaches with a gi and also have choices to train with schools that don't offer a gi based training but no gi.

    I am also lucky in that Relson is my teacher and I get classes as small as 4 or 5 people on weekends. That is not to say the rest of the Gracie family or non-Gracie teachers are not excellent or awesome teachers in their own right. Its just that I live in Hawaii, Relson is here, therefore I train with him. If I was in California, I would love to train with Rickson, or Jean-Jacque Machado, Fabio Santos or other awesome teachers that are too many to list. If I was New York, I'd train with Renzo. If I was in Brazil, Royler or Gracie Barra. Anyway, you get my meaning.

    What I am getting to is that its your choice to train with who you want and with the gi or not. Just because you don't train with one of Helio's son does not mean you are not getting awesome instructions. Even if you train with Helio himself you might not be a champion because you just can't grasp the concepts of submission grappling or self defense.

    To each his own and train what you want, with who you want, and win or lose, try your best. If we ever compete against each other and I lose to you I would still want to be friends, have a beer, eat dinner together and train together because we share a bond by training and competing.

    I want a black belt one day and thats just me. If people never want to train with a gi, thats up to you. Peace out everyone, keep training and competing. :D
     
  17. stephensharp

    stephensharp Brown Belt

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    You looked up an article on McDojos, then quoted it and asked us "doesn't that soudn like a McDojo".

    You silly bitch.

    Anyway, on a serious note, belts are there so that we know, when someone is overly concerned with them, that they're not right for the art. Muay Thai doesn't have belts, but it does have ranks. Sumo doesn't have belts, but it does have ranks. All belts are is a representation of rank.

    I only bring a white and a blue belt ot Judo competition, for instance, because all the belt itself matters for is scoring (one guy is blue, the other white). My rank, and what belt I'd wear to class, determines who I compete with.

    In Muay Thai, if you walked around wearing a patch that said "Intermediate WW Champ" or something, people would expect you to compete at a comparable level. That's all that the belt means.
     
  18. DMcKayBJJ

    DMcKayBJJ Blue Belt

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    You're starting to sound like a broken record.

    Again, it's up to the CUSTOMERS to do the research into the legitimacy of prospective schools and instructors, whether there is one McDojo out there or 1000 McDojo's, and more importantly, whether there are belts/diplomas/ranks or not. Without belts, Joe Smith can open up a school and claim to be legit. With belts, he can do the same thing anyway. Traditionally, belts have been used as just one way to indicate credibility/ability/legitimacy. In BJJ, way more people use the system properly than improperly. It works more than it doesn't. Hence, you keep the belt system.

    Once BJJ customers start using the belt system improperly, then you are correct...THAT will harm the integrity of the art and its teaching worldwide. So it is up to the BJJ community, whether there are 100 practitioners, or 1,000,000, to police itself...by wearing/giving/accepting/purchasing belts only when appropriate.

    FYI...that appropriateness works both ways. I believe all BJJ practitioners would agree that sandbagging also hurts the integrity of BJJ, and its belt system.

    You said, "Could you imagine being a brown belt for 7 years?" This is the type of statement that implies that you are belt-driven, and such a statement only contributes to McDojoism (as does your hypothetical brown belt who fights tooth and nail to keep his brown belt, even if Helio himself says he's blue...what good would the brown belt possibly achieve by stubbornly keeping the brown belt?). So what if you're a brown belt for 7 years, let alone a white belt? As long as you're learning what you need to learn. So by saying this, you are either a hypocrite or you are just trolling. Either way, your philosophical discussion of this topic is reaching its end.

    Regarding your notion of a Gracie-led pyramid scheme for BJJ instruction. Business is business, and Helio and Carlos and their progeny have simply attempted to turn their life's passion into a business to make a living. That's common sense. Again, the CUSTOMERS have the ultimate power. If you believe Gracie BJJ is the "purest" or "best" BJJ to learn, that is your decision. Take out your wallet, pay your dues, and be thankful that you can access that BJJ despite not being part of the family. If you disagree, then there are other non-Gracie practitioners out there from whom you may learn as well. In that case, take out your wallet, pay your dues, and be thankful that you are learning what you believe is the "best" BJJ out there.

    Learning BJJ from a trained instructor, whoever he is, does not come for free. It would only be considered a pyramid scheme if the product/service/commodity does not live up in the real world to the reputation that has been built up about it by its vendors. But that just brings up the whole McDojo topic again. Once the customers of that product/service/commodity realize that the whole system is just a "scam," the pyramid falls apart and fails to proliferate.

    Ergo, caveat emptor.
     
  19. Seriously PaulChu, you're starting to sound like a real fuckin bitch. You keep bringing up this shit about McDojos because of blue belts thinking they can teach because of this quick way to teach shit, who fucking cares. If a person is low enough to do that shit, then we all know how far that person is gonna get in the BJJ world, absolutely no where. The belt system is good, don't shit on it just because some people try n take advantage of it, because the bottom line is that he can wear a bluebelt all he wants but we all know that a real bluebelt would mop the floor with this fucker. There's gonna be people like that regardless if there's a belt system. If there were no belts, then a person could still come along, open up a school, and tell his students that he's had years of experience in a martial art, and he'dd be lying. REGARDLESS of the fuckin belt system. Just shut the fuck up if u don't like the belt system, because everyone who loves BJJ is just gonna go against you. I think you're just pissed off cause u went to a McDojo and bought into the dude's bullshit, then thought u were getting good, then competed, and realized u suck dick. Your fault.
     
  20. Gsoares2***

    Gsoares2*** Banned Banned

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    If they try to just "give out" belts.. Those guys will get fucking stomped all over the place at competition. Then humiliated, then probably quit bjj never to return.

    if you want to play what if game on everything your wasting your time.

    If it happens it happens.. I will still have the satisfaction of working towards a black belt..
     

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