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Are there demotions in BJJ?

BatmanuelBatmanuel Posts: 247
edited August 2007 in Jiu Jitsu Discussion
Greetings,

I am posting this new topic in response to this post made in another topic about how long it takes to get a black belt in BJJ. I didn't want to derail that discussion with my question. This is the quote I'm wondering about:
It doesn't matter how many years it takes to become a BJJ BB. The ONLY thing that counts is can you back up the belt your wearing.

What the f*** good is a black belt if you are getting your ass handed to you by purple belts. BJJ isn't like karadee, you can't hide behind your belt. If you cant back your s*** up the belt is worthless no matter how quick or long it took you to get it.

-Splinter
I'm relatively new to BJJ. If what you are stating is true in regards to backing up your belt does that mean there are demotions in BJJ?
I know a guy that was a purple belt years ago, he stopped for several years, and when he came back to BJJ and to a new school he was essentially demoted to blue belt. BJJ had evolved a little since he stopped and started again and his instructor after evaluating him put him at a blue belt level with a couple of stripes even though years ago another BJJ black belt evaluated him at purple belt. Is that the norm or the exception? Can Helio Gracie physically back up his rank to a 20-something year old BJJ blue belt? I would doubt it.

I am being sincere in my questions. I have a brown belt in Judo and my instructor is an 8th Dan and I'm pretty sure I could throw him at his old age. In Judo there are no demotions even though many of the old guys, including the 3 living Kodokan ranked 10th Dan's, can't physically back up their belts.

I completely agree with you that BJJ (and Judo) is not like karoddy in the sense that with karoddy (in many styles) you can kick/punch in the air and kata your way to a black belt. But there comes a point where a BJJ black belt's skills will diminish with age and I personally would not say that their belt or ranking is worthless once that happens.

I would like to hear other people's opinions on this.

Comments

  • jiujitsunoobjiujitsunoob Posts: 3,274
    In the kids class I have heard our instructor threaten to demote a kid after he consistently performed below his rank although that could have just been a ploy to get the kid to focus and perform.

    In addition to the above I would imagine that if I started at a new school I would wear a white belt the first day and let the instructor place me where he thinks I should be.

    A brown belt in our school went to a school in Atlanta because he works 1/2 of his time there and he let them place him, he didn't get submitted by any purple belts and submitted all but one of their purple belts even though he has trained exclusively no-gi and was in a gi class. They placed him advanced purple belt not brown like he has at our school but I imagine he would regain his brown belt quite rapidly and in a few months they will see his true skill level.
  • BatmanuelBatmanuel Posts: 247
    In the kids class I have heard our instructor threaten to demote a kid after he consistently performed below his rank although that could have just been a ploy to get the kid to focus and perform.

    In addition to the above I would imagine that if I started at a new school I would wear a white belt the first day and let the instructor place me where he thinks I should be.

    A brown belt in our school went to a school in Atlanta because he works 1/2 of his time there and he let them place him, he didn't get submitted by any purple belts and submitted all but one of their purple belts even though he has trained exclusively no-gi and was in a gi class. They placed him advanced purple belt not brown like he has at our school but I imagine he would regain his brown belt quite rapidly and in a few months they will see his true skill level.
    I find this all very interesting. Prior to starting BJJ I have never heard this happening within a martial art. It makes sense from going to one martial art to another but if I were to go to a different Judo school I would not wear a white belt nor would I be expected to.

    Please note that I'm not saying the way this is done in BJJ is wrong because when it comes down to it the belt doesn't fight for you. I have recently come aware that BJJ does have a federation but at a glance it doesn't seem very powerful.
  • jackjitsujackjitsu Posts: 19,353
    I have no problems with demotions, if you **consistently** fail to defend your rank. BJJ has always been very reality based and id like to see it stay that way.
  • BatmanuelBatmanuel Posts: 247
    I have no problems with demotions, if you **consistently** fail to defend your rank. BJJ has always been very reality based and id like to see it stay that way.
    What about in the case of a black belt who's physical skills have diminished? I gave an example of Helio Gracie. Considering he's in his 90's I do not think he could defend his rank against a blue belt. Does the status quo change after black belt?

    What about the scenario where, for example, you are a purple belt in a club full of blue belts. If the blue belts catch up to the purple belt in skill after a number of years, does that mean the purple belt should be demoted because he's getting tapped out by blue belts or does that mean the blue belts need to be promoted to purple belt? I suppose this is an example where said purple belt needs to be competing to defend his belt because his fellow teammates at his club may be catching on to his moves.

    Again, I'm being sincere in my questions because I just don't know.
  • jiujitsunoobjiujitsunoob Posts: 3,274
    No idea about the Heilo Gracie question but if blue's are starting to tap the purple and he's the only purple then it's probably that the blues are catching up and should be promoted to purple.
  • jackjitsujackjitsu Posts: 19,353
    I would say, this is why we have age and weight classes.
    I doubt you could find another 90 year old that could take helio :wink:

    If a 55 year old black belt gets subbed by a 25 year old brown belt with a 50lb advantage, then no, I dont even consider demoting the black belt. Age and weight are worth something. They are nowhere near the same fighting class. In competition, the young man would be fighting in the ultra competitive adult division, and the black belt would be fighting in a lighter weight Seniors 3 division. So no issue there.

    What about in the case of a black belt who's physical skills have diminished? I gave an example of Helio Gracie. Considering he's in his 90's I do not think he could defend his rank against a blue belt. Does the status quo change after black belt?
  • BatmanuelBatmanuel Posts: 247
    I would say, this is why we have age and weight classes.
    I doubt you could find another 90 year old that could take helio :wink:

    If a 55 year old black belt gets subbed by a 25 year old brown belt with a 50lb advantage, then no, I dont even consider demoting the black belt. Age and weight are worth something. They are nowhere near the same fighting class. In competition, the young man would be fighting in the ultra competitive adult division, and the black belt would be fighting in a lighter weight Seniors 3 division. So no issue there.
    Cool! I appreciate the insight. And no, I don't think there is another 90 year old that could take Helio. Maybe C. Mongomery Burns but he would just release the hounds instead of actually fight.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Hehe, hounds vs. Helio.
  • techniquetechnique Posts: 202
    Like you guys said, there are many factors to consider even when comparing two fighters.

    Jiu-Jitsu is the only martial arts I have found were you truely "Earn" your belt/ranking. None of the blue belts, purple belts, or brown belts I know of are underserving of their belt. I don't think a person would be given a belt if they were not at the level they are suppose to be at.

    If a fighter has been away from Jiu-Jitsu, then sure, perhaps his physical strength and stamina will diminish. But when he gets back into consistent training, I'm sure the techniques will come back very quickly, just like riding a bike.


    As for Helio Gracie, I am sure he is very strong, even at his age. The only thing that I would say is a disadvantage to him is that his memory will become worst and worst, but even at his old age, he is still quite a threat and his technique has been perfected.

    Here's a documentary to check out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVCKEbiEJNc
    At 7:37 he rolls with Hoyler. I would not doubt his Jiu-Jitsu ability even against blackbelts. Besides, you guys see his MASSIVE forearms?
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    When you're rusty, it comes back lightning fast. You never really forget.
  • techniquetechnique Posts: 202
    When you're rusty, it comes back lightning fast. You never really forget.
    agreed :) Just what I was trying to say.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    I know, I was just repetetively summing up your post. :P
  • rediskarediska Posts: 1,265
    You guys are avoiding answering Batmanuel's question directly. Should a bjj master who has gotten so physically weak due to disease, old age or injury be stripped of his title, or shouldn't he? Is skill in BJJ something that, once proven, doesn't have to be proven continually for the rest of the person's life?
    In the discussion about strength in bjj we came to the consensus that strength definetely matters and can bridge a large gap in skill. Are you saying you don't believe that anymore?
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    You guys are avoiding answering Batmanuel's question directly. Should a bjj master who has gotten so physically weak due to disease, old age or injury be stripped of his title, or shouldn't he? Is skill in BJJ something that, once proven, doesn't have to be proven continually for the rest of the person's life?
    In the discussion about strength in bjj we came to the consensus that strength definetely matters and can bridge a large gap in skill. Are you saying you don't believe that anymore?
    I believe the belt should be for technical skill (ability to do Jiu-Jitsu). If somebody stronger with a lower belt beats him, it's due to lack of strength, not lack of technical skill. Jiu-Jitsu shouldn't give belts for weight training (helpful as it may be).

    So, just because you're older and weaker, you shouldn't lose a belt for it. If they get senile, and lose technical skill, let them keep the belt. They earned it, and they aren't doing competition anymore anyway.

    If they go several years without practice, and get rusty, they can quickly catch back up, if they aren't extremely old. If they are old, refer to the last paragraph.
  • Beating people in class or beating people in competition?

    Two very different animals.

    When the pressure is not on I don't know how you can truly evaluate someone's skill level. I've had guys with very little training catch me with things and I've trained with guys and tapped them out left right and center - however this is class.
  • jiujitsunoobjiujitsunoob Posts: 3,274
    In class I experiment in a competition I would work with my strengths and not try anything I'm not 100% sure would work.

    How this helps the discussion I have NO idea :thumbsup:
  • jackjitsujackjitsu Posts: 19,353

    I believe the belt should be for technical skill (ability to do Jiu-Jitsu). If somebody stronger with a lower belt beats him, it's due to lack of strength, not lack of technical skill. Jiu-Jitsu shouldn't give belts for weight training (helpful as it may be).
    Niiiiice.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Thanks, Jack! :P

    And jiujitsunoob, that's a very good way to work it.
  • Technique does not always beat those with size and strength advantages in BJJ - because we're all going by the same sourcebook. We know roughly what we want to be doing, how to achieve it and what our goal is.

    In a fight it's obviously different.

    However I think a distinction should be made. Helio Grace is a Red Belt in BJJ because he created the base that we use. All rolling clips of Helio shows him schooling Royler and Rorion, especially from what I've seen. All training athletes technique must be considered on a variety of factors:

    1/ Instructor
    2/ Time spent
    3/ Belt level
    4/ Athleticism
    5/ Conditioning
    6/ Flexibility
    7/ Focus of Learning
    8/ Competitor?
    9/ MMA Fighter?
    10/ Bodybuilder?

    I've grappled with loads of big guys and I'm technically better than most of them but sometimes I can't get them off of me because there just so big, fat or strong. There's a variety of reasons. My jits is still better because it shows when I get on top of them they get submitted or they continue to use strength to remove me rather than technique.

    They ain't any better than me.

    I rolled with a guy last week who I couldn't physically close my guard on because he was that big. If I can't close my guard, what are my chances of scissor sweeping him, and those are the sorts of factors that people should take into account.

    Personally - if I'd earned a Blue/Purple/Brown I wouldn't take it off just because that instructor didn't think I deserved it. Unless it was the same instructor who gave it to me and well that's a different story.

    You've not explained who these guys trained with or where they trained. They may not be legit academies because it sounds like a marketing ploy to me. Award someone their belt after you've taken their money, demote them and make them work for it again by spending more money.

    You earn it, you keep it until YOUR instructor who awarded you it tells you take it off. It's that simple.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Yeah, I wouldn't be giving up my belt just because somebody said to.
  • Is it just me or does it not disrespect your instructor?

    If they are a Black Belt themselves, and in most traditional senses they are the only people who are authorised to approve promotions, who's to say who is right? Just because you're skill maybe a little shabby after a lay off period your belt is there still and recognises your dedication, your knowledge, your experience and to a lesser extent how much money you want to put into it to get it after all they say improvement comes with 3 or 4 times a week each year and how much does your academy charge?

    If you're instructor demotes you that's another thing, but at least you can ask rather than visiting a new instructor who may be a lesser black belt or a purple or brown belt who may not have the same vision your instructor saw to give you the belt in the first place.
  • BManBMan Posts: 285
    And by the way - even if they wanted to - who could demote Helio?
  • jiujitsunoobjiujitsunoob Posts: 3,274
    Was going to brag on my instructor over a recent event but decided it could be taken wrong so I
    EDITED OUT
    the story.

    my point is experience - while one instructor judges you X belt a instructor with more/less experience may judge you Y belt - especially if your new and he does not have a full knowledge of your skill level.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    And by the way - even if they wanted to - who could demote Helio?
    Really, he could just demote everybody. He pretty much made BJJ. :P
  • rediskarediska Posts: 1,265
    Is Helio the only 10th degree black belt? There were others, I think... Someone trying to demote Helio, now that would be funny...
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Is Helio the only 10th degree black belt? There were others, I think... Someone trying to demote Helio, now that would be funny...
    I thought there were more 10th degrees, also.
  • techniquetechnique Posts: 202
    In my opinion this is not a huge problem, I don't see it happening very often and if a person is below the skill level of his belt - it is not the end of the world.

    I can see others at my academy improving rapidly, while some don't fully absorb the concepts behind techniques.

    There are two kids who are quite talented at my academy, both received their yellow belts a while ago. Becuase I roll with them and watch them roll often, I notice the difference between them. One already has two stripes, he is far more technical and only 13 years of age. He constantly watches videos, trains almost daily and is very knowledgeable about techniques. I go to him as reference all the time.

    The other boy is older, yet he has not received any stripes yet. Becuase he is strong, he's been using that to get by. And while the first boy has advanced quickly and learned quite rapidly, able to absorb the techniques and concepts - the other boy is still at the same level as he was when he received his yellow.


    So what i'm trying to say is... It's not that important!

    A blue belt who does not train for a long period of time still has the technical ability of a blue belt (according to his instructor). If he improves very slowly, never improves, or gets worst - he is still a blue belt. And is not moving towards another belt.


    About black belts losing their game - Considering that many black belts grow up training Jiujitsu (as my Master did) ever since he was a little kid. Also considering how many years they have trained and dedicated their lives to the JiuJitsu..I would bet they rarely lose any of their ability.




    A belt is a belt. If I was awarded my blue belt tomorrow (highly unlikely) and due to relocation or something, had to switch to another academy. And they ranked me as a 3 stripe white belt, of course, I'd be crushed...but it's not like someone died. They just simply have higher expectations for this belt, and they want me to be at a higher level before I am allowed to wear it.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Good post.
  • b71b71 Posts: 200
    its not about the belt its about having the skills. We have someone in our org that was given his brown whilst training in the US somewhere and when he came back my instructor told him to put his purple back on. he has been subsequently promoted but it may be that some instructors have more exacting standards for their promotions and also have a vested interest in promoting someone within their own team. The instructor has the master plan for the schools' progression in his head and out side influence can upset those plans.

    if i was asked to wear a white again i would grab it with both arms. less pressure to perform.
  • EotherEother Posts: 1,777
    Generally, I doubt that a different instructor would demote you, unless you were seriously lacking.
  • DirtyrancherDirtyrancher Posts: 4,493
    I've seen two demotions when new guys came to our school - I don't know where they were trained... but our school has been here for about 16 years, is part of a large organization, and is competitive at tournaments, so I think our belt placings are usually in the right range - like Eother said - I remember the last guy was lacking (don't remember the first's level), so it was obvious. I don't know where he trained before, but I'm sure it wasn't at any of the other more established schools in the area, since they compete well too, so their belts are on the level.

    You also have to take into consideration that not all schools are run by black belts. I know of one in our area where the instructor never really has trained in a real gi academy, so guys from his school may be placed a little oddly belt wise.

    But like the other guys said - its just a belt/stripes - the only thing you can get into trouble with is that at some tournaments, you have to sign that you never competed at a higher belt - so I guess if you went to a tournament you'd have to fight at the higher belt level.

    I actually lost a stripe off of my belt once... it just fell off while training. I never asked for it back, because I would never remember. So I guess for me a stripe or two isn't worth worrying about.
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