Friday, January 23, 2015

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Becoming a Black Belt ...

BJJ is not an art that gave up rank easily - a BJJ black belt was something earned only by those prepared to undertake an extraordinary effort - at least on the4 landscape that that I came from. It wasn't a 'business' qualification - it was a reward for extraordinary effort. Times though, may be a-changing! I have been accused by some people, of 'being difficult' in regard to awarding rank .. but those that accuse me of that, are of a generation of martial artists who look at the black belt as something that everyone should be able to achieve - and that it should be 'gotten', and not earned. I do not sit in judgement of such people - those kind of people can do what they want - but the legacy I want to leave, holds to a standard that the Machado Brothers have set; one that I hold to, as do many other BJJ black belts. But as I said - times, they are a changing! if anyone wants a Black Belt - they can simply go buy one. if one wants to become a BJJ Black Belt - that is a different matter entirely - they need to do the work; stay the course - and avoid the temptation of jumping to another instructor just for the carrot of a shiny black band of cotton. I am very proud of the many Black Belts that I have had the privilege of being able to guide on their journey ... I feel that they too, are happy they walked the 'path less travelled'. getting a black belt is easy - becoming a black belt is something else entirely. JBW

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1 Comments

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In some ways I feel like giving a belt is a lot like a professor giving an end-of-semester grade in university. Not exactly the same, but hear me out.

In my first semester I worried about going too easy. I wanted my A's to mean something. I ended up being too strict at the beginning, and I recognize that. Yet, I knew that I would be observed, and I felt more justified going hard instead of easy.

Then later I realized I was going too hard and gave more A's. It wasn't until much later that I finally found a balance that suited me.

I think that awarding belts is much the same way. A black belt will be highly aware that their first purple or brown belt will be carrying their name on it, and so I could see holding off until they felt REALLY SURE, which might be much later than a seasoned black belt. I guess you figure by the person's 10th, they definitely have it down what it means to be "their" purple/brown/black belt.

And hey - much better a GREAT black belt than a rushed one, right?

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