Judo Belt Progression

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by QingTian, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. QingTian

    QingTian Purple Belt

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    What do you consider for each belt level in Judo? Here's mine:

    White-Green (0-3 years):
    These are beginner levels, where you collect techniques and tidbits of principles. You otherwise are cannon fodder for everyone else, including each other. Between white and green, your fighting ability is random like rock paper scissors, so anything can happen. You feel like anything can happen, so you are tense and scared. At this level your goal is to try out techniques to find ones you like, and learn ukemi. Lots of ukemi.

    Brown (3-5 years):
    At brown you have reached the point where you can reliably perform a smattering of techniques. You will have found a set of them you find suitable to your body, and start using them as a core group. Unfortunately at this point, you do not yet understand kuzushi, so your attacks do require a measure of strength and explosiveness. In particular, good hand control is lacking. Brown belts often rely on power grips or look like river dancers with only their feet doing work. On the plus side, a brown belt can throw lower grades handily still.

    Shodan (5-7 years):
    A shodan begins to understand the basics of kuzushi and how to break down an opponent. He can demonstrate his tokuiwaza at a standard that shows efficiency and control. He also has a core group of techniques that form a game plan. He has become an effective fighter and should be able to throw all lower grades as well as giving up significant size/strength advantage. Yet, his understanding of kuzushi is still rudimentary, and so he is limited to his game plan. His techniques still has rough edges and will have situations where they do not work.

    Newaza should be BJJ blue level.

    Nidan (7-10 years):
    At nidan you start to understand Judo. Action-reaction, efficiency, movement, reading your opponent. The key abilities to develop here are the usage of combinations, using your movement for kuzushi instead of power or grip tricks, and creating your opportunities in a broad and constant manner. At shodan you might have tried to solve a hard spot by trying a different technique; at nidan you simply think about how to manuever uke to the right position.

    Newaza at BJJ purple.

    Sandan (10+ years):
    The skills of nidan level are core to Judo, yet still take a long time to digest and build upon. By sandan you will be a complete Judo fighter. You will have an answer in all directions and most situations. You can attack and finish reliably in dynamic situations, on the move. You can think and attack on the fly and use a large variety of techniques (which come easy to you because you master the fundamentals). You are a finisher - you don't let an opportunity go to waste. You are a near master and start to put your mark on the sport.

    Yodan and above:

    You are a badass beyond the previous ones, and you've distinguished yourself in some way, usually competition. A cut above the rest. Technique, strength, and mindset all rolled into one. Sharp and devastating attacks. When you say tokuiwaza, there is actually something special about the way you do yours.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  2. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    Pretty spot on. I had to stop training as a new shodan, and I would definitely say that I have a core of a few moves that I can execute well and set up with movement but I definitely lack the ability to improvise with moves outside my favorite techniques without using a ton of strength. Every once in a while I'll hit something out of the blue that just works and that isn't one of my main throws but it's very rare.

    But I do think comparing ne waza skill to BJJ belt levels is a little bit difficult only because the ground skill sets necessary to succeed in the arts are so different. A BJJ purple belt will have a much more well rounded guard game and passing game than any nidan, but will probably not be as good as turning people over and attacking turtled opponents. I train with several nationally ranked guys, and I can pass all their guards and I never get passed, but I have been choked out or pinned if I started a ne waza round in turtle. I also find them very hard to sweep since top flight Judoka have such good balance and hips.
     
  3. ragreynolds

    ragreynolds Orange Belt

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    I know several people who have received brown and black belts within a year or two. So I disagree on your time frame.
     
  4. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    In Judo? In the US? That would be highly irregular and I can't imagine any governing body recognizing those black belts. A brown in two years isn't out of the question if you train a great deal, but you should spend another 2 years at least at brown before getting your black belt.
     
  5. Franklegit

    Franklegit Orange Belt

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    As a Brown Belt I totally agree with this. Ironically, the fact that I compete often is what I think is impeding my progression as a well-rounded Judoka. I have like 5 techniques max that I feel confident in, and during randori I find myself muscling or exploding into throws unnecessarily with little/no kuzushi.

    Fortunately, my newazas better than average and helping with the kids class has opened my eyes to some holes in my own game.
     
  6. Judo Thai Boxer

    Judo Thai Boxer <img src="http://www.mediafire.com/download/kjmldl

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    I agree with your assessment. I'm still finding more and more holes in my game standing wise but I also think I have the attributes you've described for Nidan, they're just more rudimentary than I'd like them to be.

    BJJ wise, there's only a couple of blues I really struggle with and they're three and four stripe blues. I do pretty well against a couple of purples but they feel a lot more fluid than me, especially when I'm on my back.
     
  7. doyourkegles22

    doyourkegles22 Blue Belt

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    Same here, before getting blue, I was only having a hard time with 4 stripe blues going purple.

    I also agree with Uchimata, it took me 2 years to get brown belt, then another 3 years to get shodan through points and doing all of the nage no kata.
     
  8. Judo Thai Boxer

    Judo Thai Boxer <img src="http://www.mediafire.com/download/kjmldl

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    I was only at brown for 6 months and that was because it was the minimum time in grade when I did my shodan Batsugun.
     
  9. QingTian

    QingTian Purple Belt

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    Glad you guys agree with my assessment. I'm starting to take some teaching roles, so I wanted to think about belt levels and how to bring students up to each level. I think BJJ reliably gets people skilled better, and I was a bit influenced by their belt system. So purple is roughly shodan and sandan would be equivalent of BJJ black in terms of mastery.

    As far as grading time, those were rough estimates I imagine if I were the instructor. Belt standards do vary, and in fact I took much longer to get my belts. I also did not benefit from a good long term development focused curriculum. I'm largely self taught. It's not uncommon in US Judo to have a haphazard way of learning, with some random lesson of the day, and I think we can do better.
     
  10. SummerStriker

    SummerStriker Black Belt

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    Same for BJJ and Submission Grappling.
     
  11. QingTian

    QingTian Purple Belt

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    I agree the skillsets will be different. It was an easy way to make a rough comparison, so I didn't have to write the equivalent paragraph for newaza too. It also drops off at purple, because Judo grading is less based on newaza, and few reach BJJ brown level and above. The skillsets and specialization diverge too much.

    I'm pretty happy with how my newaza does in BJJ though, dropping in to open mat. I've learned to adapt my Judo game, and learned how to pass modern guards. I've tapped purples, and hope to tap some browns soon too. Working my way up!
     
  12. Judo Thai Boxer

    Judo Thai Boxer <img src="http://www.mediafire.com/download/kjmldl

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    I don't know if I agree with purple being the equivalent of shodan. I can hold my own with some purples, I doubt they could hold their own standing with me.

    I mean, if I'm really defensive I can give up position but not get tapped from just about all of them but I really doubt they'd be able to avoid the throw.
     
  13. Mocrates

    Mocrates Ik ben Groot.

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    I think he meant in general skill in the perspective system.

    As in, a shodan = roughly a BJJ purple in skill in BJJ.
    A sandan = roughly a BJJ black in skill in BJJ.
     
  14. Judo Thai Boxer

    Judo Thai Boxer <img src="http://www.mediafire.com/download/kjmldl

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    I know what he meant but I'm just not sure I agree with it.

    As a shodan I can hold my own with some purples, beat some whilst getting annihilated by others. I doubt any would be able to do the same standing without cross training in something.

    Therefore, is purple really the same skill level as shodan? My point is that if someone who trains in a different, albeit similar sport but can be competitive with you then surely if you can't do the same in theirs then a shodan isn't roughly equivalent to a purple?

    I understand what you mean, they're both on similar steps on the ladder in their respective sports but I'd argue that a shodan is slightly above a purple.

    Edit: I suppose it goes back to judo being 70-30 standup to ground whilst in BJJ you can be 0-100 if you always pull guard.

    IMO the added groundwork in with judo puts it that little bit higher. If you were to only include judo tachiwaza vs BJJ groundwork then I'd totally agree.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  15. georgejjr

    georgejjr Black Belt

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    I think a bigger problem with this is that after shodan judo skills don't go up anything close to linearly with grade. There are shodans who've been repeat world champions, and currently Teddy Riner, repeat world champion is a nidan. There are also yondans who've never done more than referee, and have the throwing skills of your typical judo nikyu.

    Which is why if you go to a new club in judo (say on a holiday), they don't ask your rank, they ask about your competition record. A shodan can mean almost anything - you might be an Olympian, or just a guy who's helped around the club for twenty years. And there's nothing wrong with that, that's what its intended to be. BJJ took a different approach to belts, and that's fine too.

    BJJ is much more consistent in its ranking. In judo you get a huge range of abilities for ranks under rokudan (6th dan). At rokudan and above (the red and white paneled belt) it becomes consistent - almost everyone at that rank was at least a national level competitor, and typically international, and did a fair amount of teaching etc as well.

    You also get huge swings in ne-waza ability in judo (not unlike throwing in BJJ). A purple in BJJ might have good throws or almost non-existent throws, a shodan in judo might have good ground or almost non-existent ground (other than a good turtle).
     
  16. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I don't know, I think it's a decent comparison. This may not be you, but usually when Judo guys say they can hang with BJJ purple belts what they mean is they can hunker down in closed guard and not get swept or submitted, which is basically just avoiding the fight from a BJJ perspective. I imagine a lot of BJJ purple belts could avoid getting thrown if they were just super defensive, didn't let you get the grips, basically just didn't try to do Judo. Also, most BJJ guys who have some standup it's more likely to be wrestling than Judo, so I think most BJJ purples would do better standing in a more open rule set where leg attacks are allowed and ippon is de-emphasized relative to just getting your opponent to the ground. Judo has a much more restrictive rule set in general than BJJ so it's less likely that a non-cross training BJJ guy is going to have a skill set that works well under Judo's restrictive rules.
     
  17. lechien

    lechien Gold Belt

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    I think that in New Zealand you have to score 10 wins in competition against a shodan in order to earn a shodan.

    Other option is to travel to the kodokan and win 3 matches to earn your shodan.
     
  18. Mocrates

    Mocrates Ik ben Groot.

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    I think they have to be in a row, you have to win by ippon, and you still have to demonstrate Nage no Kata.
     
  19. peregrine

    peregrine Kahuna Dog

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    I thought I was told it was 3. The ref signs your book. That's what I'm working on this year.
    Making bb in Judo is nice. When ever it happens for me I don't really care. I joke with my sensei I may take 15yrs or more. (Since my Judo is so horrible.)
    But, ^ it's always nicer beating bb even if I have to use gorilla judo.

    Edit...even if I get 3bb this year I would not want a Judo bb. That is not my goal in itself. The actual skill is, which will take me awhile since I'm a slow learner.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  20. peregrine

    peregrine Kahuna Dog

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    It is an interesting comparison.
    Though just a guideline.

    You have an entire spectrum of Judo bb like anything.
    Any where from Judo Olympians who have solid newaza, through Olympians who have bleh newaza, and club bb who have solid newaza to club bb who have solid ne waza.

    The funnier comparison is bjj bb tachi waza. Haha.
     

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