The BJJ Black Belt
For me, the complete answer to this question is not a simple one – but one thing is certain; a Black Belt in BJJ, or any system for that matter, is not, in and of itself, something that should automatically engender respect or admiration. I have known Black Belts who are rude, obnoxious, ego-driven people; who in my opinion do not deserve anywhere near the amount of respect they themselves think they deserve. On the flip side, I know many white belts who are courteous, thoughtful, respectful and considerate of others. A belt shouldn’t engender respect or admiration – that is a misguided concept; ultimately, it is the person wearing the belt that earns or fails to earn, respect and admiration.
As Rigan Machado re-iterated to me yesterday – the Machado credo is simple: “Leave your ego at the door.”
From my perspective, the Black Belt should be a mark, not only of physical prowess and understanding but of good character and good standing in the community. Martial art training, and in my view BJJ training in particular, should engender a well-rounded, wholesome and fulfilling lifestyle; as well as a fundamental respect for other people. The archetypal warrior, has at his core, a desire to serve and protect; a credo that is born out of his respect for others.
Personally, and in the simplest of terms, I think a Black Belt should leave the world a better place for having had he or she living in it. In a ideal scenario, a Black Belt should be the complete package. A Black Belt should be someone who sets a higher standard – in all things. In short, a Black Belt should be personify a standard of excellence.