Hey, so i'm having a hard dealing with a recent informal grading (we had a seminar first then sat and were called out to receive stripes/belts).
So some background, I've been doing BJJ for just over 6 months now 2 x a week with 2 PT sessions a month at a Gracie affiliate club in the UK.
Now ok, 2 x a week isn't much but that's all i can do, i work 2 jobs at night 5 days a week, get 4 hours sleep before I'm up to look after my children in the day, 2 x a week is all i can currently do....however in those 6 months i have learnt alot, i can comfortably roll with blue belts, and have been told by my coach i have better technical ability and learned techniques/skill level than some longer serving student white belts. I honestly feel i have worked so hard, sacrificed alot of family time etc to train, ive trained on broken bones, exhaustion etc etc as i said im very committed.
I'm good friends with my coach (we work together outside of BJJ), extremely respectful, polite, hard working, loyal etc etc to my club, coaches and fellow students.
Now i train with my coach (a brown belt) in my town, the black teaches as part of the same club in the next town over (however we are all the same club). My work commitments prevent me from training at the black belts club.
During the seminar i drilled and rolled with other non stripe white belts who had trained the same length of time as me, some less, and l genuinely felt that i had better ability than them (because ive rolled with them and have first hand experience of my level vs theirs). These white belts train at my club and occasionally at the black belts club in the town over.
These white belts in question received stripes during the grading and me and a few others who i know, did not grade at all (which was very disheartening)
When discussing why we didn't grade vs why other less skilled students did, we discovered the commonality that those less skilled who graded, who train with us at our club ALSO occasionally train with the black belt, but those of us that didn't grade were the ones that don't/can't train with the black belt.
This was also pointed out to us by a purple belt that we perhaps didn't grade because we didn't train with the black belt. This is what makes it seem like the grading was more of a popularity contest because less skilled students are receiving stripes whilst those more skilled aren't, just because we cant make it to the black belts club because of work commitments.
Surely being graded is judged not just on your commitment, ethics, respectfulness, hard work, but also how hard you're training, how well you're learning and your skill level, regardless of whether you train with the brown belt coach or black belt coach (otherwise why would there be different color belts to distinguish the hard work and skill level of newbies to veterans).
We found the experience very disheartening. It felt like all our hard work and skill level we had reached, commitment, sacrifice, loyalty, respect, the hours we've drilled and rolled all meant nothing when compared to those who could attend classes with the black belt even though they were less skilled. Surely our ability and hard work and sacrifice should be the determining factor in grading (along with our coaches recommendation) and not just because we cannot attend the black belts class, hence why we wondered if it was a popularity issue rather than what we had sacrificed and strived to earn?