View Full Version : Rank

Jim London
14th October 2002, 16:32

This is something I have been noticing a lot lately. Though it is not unique to the Brazilian world (check out the Bad Budo forum for lots of examples). And maybe I should have posted it over in Baffling Budo but...

This book was written by two people with Purple Belts. They now have Brown Belts and various championships (at rank level). So they are obviously proficient, but there is a real problem here.

Universally a Black Belt is considered to be some sort of accomplishment and qualification. It is considered bad taste to claim to know anything about a system before attaining at least this rank.

Now a lot of Brazilians say that a BJJ Purple or whatever coloured belt can beet a black belt from another system so the coloured belt should be respected. This is debatable, and pretty much can be ignored. The ability of the practicioners is not the question, the writers are obviously good fighters. But....

A student is still a student. It is universal that a Black Belt has attained something. I have attended seminars taught by BJJ Black Belts, they are far better then BJJ Brown Belts.

If you think you are an instructor of your art, why are you not a Black Belt? I know that some systems are giving out assistant instructorships for study groups (yawn, money-making method #1), this does not make you an instructor.

The question is: Why did you write this book? Though it has nice production values and flashy pictures, no matter how proficient you are, you are obviously not qualified.

Just be sticking around you gain some legitimacy, You are both obviously proficient, why did you not wait a couple of year, get the Black Belt, then publish?

Please dig deep before you respond to this post. Sleep on it. Look into yourself. Examine why you do martial arts. Consider your ego.

Good luck with everything.
Jim London.

Mike Williams
14th October 2002, 17:11
Geez, chill out a bit!

I'm not the author of this book, nor am I black-belt in anything, nor am I a BJJ practitioner. However:

1) Rank structures in BJJ are different to most Japanese arts. Where a BB in a Japanese art tends to denote that you've mastered the basics and are ready to move on, a BB in BJJ denotes that you've pretty much mastered the whole thing. There really aren't that many (legit) BBs in BJJ as far as I can tell. My impression is that a BJJ blue belt is comparable to shodan in Japanese styles

2) Why does it matter? If the authors had left off their gis, would you be any the wiser? As long as the information presented is good, who cares?

To quote Royce Gracie, "a belt covers 2 inches of your ass - you've got to cover the rest"

I can't help thinking that the world would be much better off if we just used elastic to keep our pants up.



Jim London
14th October 2002, 17:57
I am very interested in this topic as it comes up a lot in other areas, expecially over in Bad Budo.

Lennox Lewis does not have a black belt. Is he qulified to teach boxing?

There are no belts in Boxing, except championship ones. There are however coloured belts in BJJ. These coloured belts in BJJ are intended to mean something. They do not have the same value as that in another art. A TKD BB and a BJJ BB are not the same. But neither is a BJJ purple belt the same as a BJJ BB.

I am glad they published their rank, it makes this discussion possible.

Rank structures in BJJ are different to most Japanese arts. Where a BB in a Japanese art tends to denote that you've mastered the basics and are ready to move on, a BB in BJJ denotes that you've pretty much mastered the whole thing.

My point exactly. Why don't these guys wait until they know what they are doing before they publish? I don't see Japanese art Shodans publishing books on their arts, most wait until having attained a fairly high dan rank, some time in, usually many years of training.

Again, I am sure these guys are talented. They unfortunately do not pass the qualification test. Why take lessons from an unqualified teacher? Why want to teach before you are qualified?

These are normal martial arts questions, everyone faces them. How we deal with them tells you if we are worth training with. There are enough of these Blue Belt taught clubs out there, they are not as good as the Black Belt taught clubs. It is as simple as that.

Jim London

Mike Williams
14th October 2002, 18:14
Originally posted by Jim London
There are enough of these Blue Belt taught clubs out there, they are not as good as the Black Belt taught clubs.

Yep, and there are plenty of karate/judo/kendo/aikido clubs that are taught by shodans, too.

If you are lucky enough to train under some mega-dan master, good for you. There are plenty of MAists getting good, solid instruction from lower-ranked black belts. (And I wouldn't mind betting that some of it is better ;) )

Back to the book: as far as I can tell, it is a catalogue of techniques, plus tips and tactics, plus training drills. Bottom line - are the techs shown correctly? Are the tips useful and valid? Will the drills help your training? If the answer is yes, then it wouldn't matter if it had been written by white belts.

I really think you are getting way too hung up on this belt-colour thing. It doesn't matter.



Jim London
14th October 2002, 18:53
Rant, Rant, Rant....

Sorry folks, but you are giving the same responses we see from the Sacharnoski crowd over in Bad Budo. His students charge forth and make comments like ::: It's effective / It works for me / Its not your art so you can't judge / what is your qualifications anyway bub? / etc etc.

I would like to hear from the authors.

I really think you are getting way too hung up on this belt-colour thing. It doesn't matter.

Unfortunately it does, or we wouldn't use them. It holds up our pants well is an often told anecdote, but having that BB put around your waist is a very proud moment. As you get older, it does become less important, something about maturity.

It is sort of like getting hung up on the PHD thing. When you go to University you like to train with someone who is qualified to teach.

If the final answer is that a BJJ Blue belt is qualified to teach then hey, we can all start opening clubs willy nilly. It isn't that hard to get a Blue Belt, train for two or three years (some people take longer), get the belt, leave your instructor and open a club.

Again, look inside yourself. To be an instructor requires a certain level of ego. You must believe that you have something that others do not. You must believe that your way is better then that which is taught by others. This isnt a slight on anyone, if you do not believe these things you wouldn't teach. You can be the best student in the world. The greatest fighter ever seen, but still not be able to teach.

Ok, now I am up to .03 cents.
Jim London

Tim Cartmell
14th October 2002, 19:32
You ask valid questions, here's my response. First of all, Mike and Shojin have already covered the bottom line, regardless of our rank, the question is can practitioners learn useful techniques and strategies from the information presented? We believe the answer is yes. We could have waited a couple of years and published the book after we received black belts, and with the exception of posing for the pictures in a different colored belts, the information would have been exactly the same.

Why did we write the book? Well, to make a profit. And because there is a paucity of written material on BJJ in English; although there are a few excellent books, none of them are situation specific. Since the guard is such an important position in sport BJJ, Ed came up with the idea to focus a book entirely on that single position. Our underlying criterion was that someone with absolutely no background in BJJ could study the book and with some practice, actually learn to apply the techniques.

So Jim, you have a black belt in some style of (I'm assuming) Japanese Ju Jitsu. I'd be interested to know how long it takes to earn a black belt in your style. In most style I've encountered, other than BJJ, it takes three or four years to Shodan. We have been practicing BJJ almost eight years. So if you want to make comparisons with other styles, we'd be what, second or third degree black belts by now? The point is as the other gentlemen pointed out above, belts aren't the only (or often the most important) benchmarks of skill. We make no false claims about our rank or level of ability, we were purple belts when we began writing the book, and felt we had enough experience to present the basic techniques in a manner that could be understood in print.

Finally Jim, I appreciate the opportunity to address the issues you raised, we knew it was coming. But as for the 'bad budo' comparison reference, well, unless you've practiced BJJ for a number of years and have some competitive experience, you are not qualified to judge from our book whether we are qualified to write it or not.

Jim London
14th October 2002, 19:49
Hi Tim,

Thank you for the reply. I am very glad to see that you are forthright about your ranks.

In the style of Jiu-Jitsu I studied it takes about 6 years to BB. Some people take longer, as much as 10. Nidan is a minimum of two years after Shodan, I dont know anyone who made it in the minimum, usually 3 or 4 years. So in my style of JJ you could be a Shodan after 8 years, if you are really good you could be a Nidan at that point (not many people do this). The style contains a number of very good people that have trained for 20-30 years who are 3rd and 4th dans.

What really matters is the number of hours spent with an instructor correcting your technique and making you better. On average the people I trained with from Brown to Black spent about 25 hours per week with an instructor helping them out. Over the period of a year this totals about 1300 hours of instruction time with an instructor. This does not include tournament time or extra training time together.

One of my (a very occasional one) instructors was also a BJJ BB, though what I learned was not BJJ I am fairly sure I can judge what I see in a book. The stuff on your website is fairly good. I do not believe myself competent of creating better so am not in a position to criticize the content.

The following criticism is what bothers me. I do not think it really applies to you, but your part of this system so you take some of the heat.

There are many BJJ clubs out there who have BB visit them once every three months for a weekend seminar. On that weekend they get about 15 or 20 hours of instruction and correction. Then they use books / tapes / study group to try to become better. So with 80 or so hours of instruction received in a given year they turn around and teach. They also enter competitions against similiar people to polish their technique, probably the best thing they could do. What these people should be doing is take a couple of years and go and train with the instructor at his dojo. People have been doing this method for years. Get the quality time in, put in the 1000s of hours with an instructor.

I am glad you have written this book and are willing to come out in its defence. When I can convince the pocket book boss to let me I will likely purchase it. I like to read as broad a range on Jiu-Jitsu as I can. As you pointed out their are not very many good books published in English.

I am going off line for awhile so any further response will take some time.
Good luck with your projects.
Jim London.

hector gomez
14th October 2002, 21:16

Originaly black belt once meant something and I really think that the whole notion of a time frame was non existent in the old days,you either had the skills to be able to wear a black belt or not regardless of wether you trained for 20 long years.

That whole notion is gone today as most styles and systems outright tell you it takes 4 to 5 years or 8 years whatever the case may be,in bjj there is no time frame as you might never reach the black belt level regardless of the time put in.

The notion that the black belt is just a basic level has to be a new world idea because in the old schools black belt meant mastery something I am proud to say bjj tries to keep intact.

Hector Gomez

14th October 2002, 23:51
Originally posted by hector gomez
Originaly black belt once meant something and I really think that the whole notion of a time frame was non existent in the old days,you either had the skills to be able to wear a black belt or not regardless of wether you trained for 20 long years.

Just to note that the "black belt" is still a recent thing in the martial arts as are dan and kyu grades. The concepts of black belt would have been introduced even in Japan around the same time as jujutsu was introduced to South America.

The meaning and value of a belt colour is surely totally dependant on the value assigned by a particular style. I don't think you can compare rank value between styles, particulary when styles are from different countries.

That being said I think that after eight years training (in anything) it would be a bit early to write a book on the topic. Even so as the authors are open and honest regarding their rank and experience I feel that any judgement of their work should be reserved purely based on it's content.

Jim London
14th October 2002, 23:56

I am not sure there is a traditional notion of what a BB means. The whole idea is still fairly new as these things go. The Judo guys (Kano really) that popularized the Dan-Kyu system and created the idea of a BB as someone that has "mastered the basics." I have no objective way other then direct competition to rate different belts from different styles, even then you get into these gigantic 'rules' debates. (eg a fight on concrete vs a fight on a mat)

We have all seen the UFC and Pride, we know how effective the high ranked BJJ guys are, if you've missed this easy lesson please tune back in. This is also not the point I am trying to make.

The better styles and clubs still do not link a BB to time, my quotations were for averages. The better instructors still hold the BB to a high standard, yes there is a lot of crap out there too. That is why you have to question these claims.

Every system has to set a standard for what is considered to be a qualified instructor. I, for one, do not consider a Blue Belt who has attended 80 hours of seminars in the last year but runs a study group as a qualified instructor. But it really isnt up to me, and this seems to be the common run in BJJ these days. In my opinion, this is a good way to make money but not a good way to learn a martial art.

Universally though a BB seems to convey that someone is qualified to pass on the art to students, be it Aikido/kendo whatever.... This does not appear to be what is going on in BJJ. BJJ has appeared to lower the bar of what constitutes an instructor. So what if a Blue or Purple belt is a good fighter, he is still not qualified within the confines of his own system, or are they?? There are tons of examples out there of Purple and Brown belts from JJ defeating instructors of other styles, this is not the argument. (eg go see kung-fu vs BJJ at www.mcdojo.com, it is worth a laugh)

The one thing I missed in the author's bios is a mention of BJJ instructor qualification. If they do have this, may I suggest that they add it to their BIO, it may alleviate future questions. Possibly in the FAQ explain that coloured belts can teach classes, provide a letter on the website from their instructor explaining that they have this permission.... All of this would clear up the qualification issue.

Judo used to have a seperate exam to become an instructor, not all BBs passed the exam, though a few Brown Belts did now and then, I am not sure this still goes on but it may.

Jim London.

hector gomez
15th October 2002, 00:52

No Offense to anyone but who cares,I don't really care if a guy has a white belt with yellow pokodots on it,If he can teach me something and I believe I can learn from him that's all that matters to me.

Example,the old adage is we can all learn from even a white belt,this issue only becomes an issue for those that really care about ranks to begin with otherwise my only interest is on learning and progressing.

As mentioned above there are many great fighting arts that do not adhere to any ranking system and they do just fine without them boxing,wrestling,muaythai,etc.

If the belt issue prevents you from learning anything from the two authors go ahead and ask them a technical question pertaining what it is they do,if you can't learn anything from their replies then your theory is valid but if they can constanly answer your honest questions then your argument all of the sudden becomes childish imo.

Hector Gomez

Jim London
15th October 2002, 01:14
Yeah, you should have a beginners mind as the Zen instructors say, always learn from everyone. But I will repeat myself again so that you can understand. The ability of the authors is not my problem.

The entire world is built on the idea of qualification and expertese. Yes an engineer could potentially learn a new math trick from an untutored person, or in fact someone with little or no education could have great insites. This does not by any stretch of the imagination imply that I would have anyone except a qualified engineer design my car. Let alone someone that was not qualified to teach, teach anything. If you turned up to University and the professor was a high school drop out that won a Math contest, would you stay in the course? (I predict a contrary reaction to this one) As you can no doubt guess, I would choose not to risk taking that course, though I might sit down and talk to him over a beer. In life and Martial Arts one has to be very carefull what you learn.

If this qualification system did not exist you would have large building built by non-architects, BMWs by non-engineers. You can go ahead and live in these buildings, or buy these cars, I won't.

Now if in BJJ the rank to be an instructor is not BB, then what is it? For nearly every other Japanese heritage style (those that use the Dan-kyu (coloured) Belt system) the BB constitutes a rank at which one can instruct. There are always exceptions, is BJJ one of these exceptions?

That is the point, are the authors certified? IF they are, how? By whom (I am guessing Moriera)? Was there an exam? How many hours of instruction have they had? Or are they some sort of Martial Genius and figured out BJJ without or with little instruction? If they had a BB these questions would not get asked. If these questions are answered the rest of the discussion is moot.

Do not be offended by having your qualifications questioned. This is part of being a martial artist. If ever (not-likely) I publish a book, I would expect any of my claims to be questioned.

Good luck in your future.
Jim London.

Ed Beneville
15th October 2002, 07:17
Jim London,

Your problem seems to be that we lack the credentials you believe requite for teaching martial arts. I do not share your faith in credentials. If I did I would not have made the book. You gave an example that you would not take a University course from a high school drop out. I say why not if the guy is good. To my recollection, Eric Hoffer never finished high school; he eventaully taught at Berkely. He was great because of what he did. No one read his books (e.g. the True Believer)on the strength of his credentials -- he was a former migrant crop picker and longshoreman. Should he have waited until he had a Sociology or Philosophy PhD before he penned his first work? Would you have walked out of his class and dissed his books on the basis of his background?

I am not terribly concerned with traditional martial arts attitudes on this sort of thing. I knew there would be people who had a problem with our credentials. So be it. If you don't think we have anything to offer, then don't buy our book. Your competition will smile.

That being said, the information in the book is accurate and extensive. The quality of the material speaks for itself. To date everyone who has reviewed the book has given it excellent ratings. If the fact that you are not getting it straight from a sixth degree blackbelt is a problem for you, then again, so be it.

As communicating in print goes, we just might be blackbelts...if I only I new where to apply for my certificate.

Should I go on?


15th October 2002, 14:50

I had a hard time passing a linear algebra and discrete maths exam lately. I would not have done it just studying the cryptic textbook I had, nor with the incredibly abstract lessons of my role teacher (rumored to be a kind of a math genius, and I must say he fits in the role very well)...

But I had this friend of mine studying with me, quite talented, who could explain me the stuff in simple words and straight to the points I couldn't get, because the teacher, evidently, couldn't imagine someone NOT grasping those underlying concepts automatically. So my buddy was a better teacher than the professor.

It's as simple as that in my opinion. We have already enough frauds, scams, self proclaimed sokes in the Bad Budo section to debate about. Credentials aren't of the essence in this situation, in my opinion.

Also consider that we are talking about PRACTICAL issues. A n-th dan instructor could maybe tell you about the philosophical values of softness and flowing, but we all know there's a long long way of hard practice before those concepts become "incarnated" into us. First there's practice, and the book is about practice.

Jim London
15th October 2002, 15:13
Hi 'renso

Good anecdote. And it pretty much addresses my example exactly.

Nothing in the martial arts replaces a good teacher. Someone who has been through it all already for you. Nothing is better then long hours spent with this teacher correcting and improving your technique.

Best of luck in the long run to people who do not do this. For those of you following the "study group" model. Take a year or two off and go and train at one of the full time BJJ academies. You will be better for it. Those that take this time will be better then those that dont. If certification is not important to you, go and fight someone that has earned a BB in full time study, you may be surprised.

Jim London

hector gomez
15th October 2002, 16:47
It's a shame that this type of mentality is so prevelant especially in certain areas of traditional martial arts,I actually think it is a major preventive stumbling block to learning real self defense skills.

I would be the first person that would totaly be ok if the ranking system was completely abolished,then all of these so called 4th,5th and 6th dans would have to be judged soley on their ability to perform
not on what some bogus certificate says on their wall.

I don't know about anyone one else but when I go to train at anyone school I never go there with the intention of checking out his credentials,I simply go to train and if after I workout, I conclude that there is something to learn then that is the only worthwhile
evaluation I need on someones skills.

The average common person with no martial arts experinece that visits a school for the first time cannot distinquish today if an instructor is competent or not,maybe we should re-educate the general public on what to really look for instead of just the color of someones belt,this in the long run would serve the public far better than having to figure out who is legite and who is not.


If I were to go by your analogy and open up the yellow pages I can go to atleast 20 schools in my area that have a so called legitimate rank under different organizations that does not guanrantee me self defense proficiency one bit.

BJJ has strict and hard requirements to avoid just that,I know many blues,purples and brown belts in bjj that are 10 times more qualified to teach self defense than any of the legitimate instructors in the yellow page ads with legitimate rank and all.

Hector Gomez

Mike Williams
15th October 2002, 16:50




hector gomez
15th October 2002, 19:18
Right on richard.

Hector Gomez

15th October 2002, 23:33

Been a while but I wanted to respond here. I think people are getting lost in the color of the belt vs. what the belt signifies within the community. If I might try to respond to Jim's concerns:

Rank is essentially a pecking order within the group or within the system. For some groups it is based on skill, for some on longevity and loyalty, and in many cases a combination of the above. How the rank is determined is either through testing and having a proven set of basic knowledge, or through a teacher's arbitrarily deciding "you are ready" through his own observations and how you compare to others of your relative skill level, those above you, and in competitive styles how you fare against them in open competition. How the particular rank is "valued" is through the eyes of your peers. The color is immaterial, it is what the rank represents and whether you deserve it or not. Or rather whether OTHERS WITHIN YOUR SYSTEM think you have earned it.

Jim, if I might make an observation, you seem to be superimposing the rank structure typical to Japanese MA and your own system over that of the BJJ world. It doesn't really apply.

In the BJJ world, because for the longest time black belts were hard to come by (except maybe in Southern Cali) and all but a very few had Brazilian last names, advancement within the system of colored belts had a much greater cachet than it does in other systems.

By that I mean until recently, a BJJ blue belt probably had three or more years of training in, directly under a black belt, and had proven himself if not in competition, than in competitive grappling with his peers in the club under the eyes of the instructor. It is, still, a dishonor within BJJ to be "tapped" by a lower belt in jujutsu practice. All the "its just training, no worries" aside, if a purple got tapped by a blue on the mat, unless that blue was about to become a purple, there would be considerable consternation on his part and his seniors and his instructor would be wondering what the hell happened.

Getting a brown belt rank in under eight or ten years was amazing. Black belt in that frame of time almost unheard of. BJ Penn earned his black belt in something like five years, and proved his right to wear it in BJJ world competition against other black belts. In so doing he earned the nickname "Phenom" because that is exactly how it was viewed.

This cachet is weakening with "seminar" belt rankings and the broadening dissemination of BJJ as Tim mentioned. But WITHIN the BJJ community, brown and black belts, and even purple to some extent, still mean a great deal. Very few Americans have advanced to that level and when people make those ranks you still see a flood of congratulations on BJJ boards because they recognize the skill level that comes with that level of ranking.

BJJ practitioners see a brown belt as pretty close to the way a second or third dan level is seen in an art like, say Judo. Blue is called a "coach" rank, and some blue's run study groups, it is a very low teaching rank, but a teaching rank nonetheless if the only other people around are white belts. Outside of certain areas in the US, a lot of BJJ practitioners would be thrilled to be studying with a brown belt, and I don't think any eyebrows would be raised if a brown belt opened his own club and advertised that he taught BJJ. A brown belt, particularly browns that have proven themselves repeatedly in competition against other brown belts, writing a book does NOT raise suspicions in the BJJ community the way it would if a Judo brown belt wrote a book on judo or a karate brown belt did the same. No one would question if a 2 dan or 3 dan judoka, successful in competition, wrote a book about an aspect of judo competition. This book is looked at that way in the BJJ world. On several of the MMA and BJJ boards that I lurk on here and there many have mentioned this book, I don't recall a single person questioning whether a brown belt has the right to write a book on BJJ. In Brazil, they might question it. Here, everyone simply wants to know where they can get a copy.

Kit LeBlanc

Jim London
16th October 2002, 00:20
Hi Kit,

Thank you, I think you answered my question. I wanted to know what constituted a teaching rank in BJJ.

To the rest of you go back to RMA, and your usual programming. A review of my posts should note that the physical competency of the authors was not my question.

Jim London.

17th October 2002, 11:56
rank is overratted

but I know what I want for christmas

18th October 2002, 14:45
I've read 'Effortless Combat Throws'.

It was a great book and inspired me to take up Judo.

I believe that Mr. Cartmell's huge experience of the Chinese martial arts, and his authorship ability has to be added to his BJJ qualifications when judging his qualifications to write a book of this kind.

Besides, an author can be abysmal at something in practice, but his written work may be excellent. A book should be judged on its own merits, as much as on its authors.

Meynard Ancheta
18th October 2002, 16:52
What people don't understand is how phenomenal Tim Cartmell is with the martial arts. This is a guy who was basically the best student of every teacher he has had, has mastery of COMPLETE systems of tai ji, xingyi, and ba gua and is successful in every type of martial arts competition he has entered (full contact, jiu jitsu, and submissions grappling). As a testament to his teaching abilities, he also produces students who are proven winners in competition. What more can you ask for?

20th October 2002, 03:00
It is, still, a dishonor within BJJ to be "tapped" by a lower belt in jujutsu practice. All the "its just training, no worries" aside, if a purple got tapped by a blue on the mat, unless that blue was about to become a purple, there would be considerable consternation on his part and his seniors and his instructor would be wondering what the hell happened.

Not to offend an BJJ people, and I know for a fact that not all BJJ practicioners are like this, but don't you think that the preceding paragraph somewhat lends to this idiotic "Toughguy Jiu-Jitsu" mentality that I tend to see in some of BJJ's students?

R Erman
20th October 2002, 05:47
Originally posted by WJ55

Not to offend an BJJ people, and I know for a fact that not all BJJ practicioners are like this, but don't you think that the preceding paragraph somewhat lends to this idiotic "Toughguy Jiu-Jitsu" mentality that I tend to see in some of BJJ's students?

Maybe, but it also lends to high quality and integrity of the technical syllabus.

Meynard Ancheta
20th October 2002, 07:55
The fact is most guys who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are tough!

Jim London
20th October 2002, 16:07
It is, still, a dishonor within BJJ to be "tapped" by a lower belt in jujutsu practice. All the "its just training, no worries" aside, if a purple got tapped by a blue on the mat, unless that blue was about to become a purple, there would be considerable consternation on his part and his seniors and his instructor would be wondering what the hell happened.

This isnt really unique to BJJ, you see it in Judo, and especially in the karate styles (hey even including Shotokan). There is the "tough guy" mentality throughout martial arts, it is just most hugely prevelant in BJJ. Basicly why you get the "I know what I am talking about cause I can beat you up..." response to things. :laugh: That belongs on the school yard, not in the dojo.

Most sportsman at the top of their game work with a huge ego, this way they can weather through loosing a match or a game. They continue to believe in themselves even when they loose.

this idiotic "Toughguy Jiu-Jitsu" mentality that I tend to see in some of BJJ's students?

Wing Chun guys are the same way, they wander around claiming they practice the ultimate martial art. To expand on your comment, anyone that does this "tough guy act"; is severly risking their credibility. Usually stops coming out when people are actually confident of their technique.

Jim London.

21st October 2002, 12:28
I don't think that's unique to BJJ by any stretch, although I do think it's exacerbated by rank, espcially visible signs of rank. Not that belts <=> fighting for top dog position. In a good club, everybody tries to make everyone else good, so you get better sparring partners, so you get better yourself. However, if in fact you are insecure, you tend to cling to the heirarchy and view every time you tangle with a 'lower' rank as a challenge to your right to wear the belt. This can adversely affect your decision making during fight time.

That said, I have found that in a rankless style people walking in tend not to listen to you unless you can make whatever you're talking about work on them, in a fashion that convinces them you haven't just used superior athleticism etc., whereas wearing a black belt is sometimes enough to convince the inexperienced that you are an authority.

21st October 2002, 13:27
having the belt system does make it a lot easier when teaching classes.

over here a blackbelt (at least with the major federations) exam is done before a committee, blackbelts cannot be awarded by the teacher.. I think that this is the best system... (for the belt system that is)

I've seen a question asked in Jim's direction about who awarded him his blackbelt... how would that have any impact on this discussion?

Jim London
22nd October 2002, 00:08
Hi Shojin,

You've touched on something else that I find academically interesting. I have heard that the transliteration Jiu-Jitsu was a portugese thing, there are a few North American versions that use this translation that seem to have originated in and around the 1950s. Though I have seen old Judo work that called itself "Jiudo" and claiming to be a style of Ju-Jutsu. Not sure what relationship that has to the eventual uses of the word.

Do you know why the original BJJers chose the transliteration they did? To me there doesnt seem to be much rhyme or reason to various name choices by those that brought the art across the Pacific.

Jim London.

Jim London
22nd October 2002, 03:44
Originally posted by Shojin
Ju is the kanji also read yawara meaning soft or yielding.


Along the way I have learned a whole set of techniques or kata refered to as yawara, these included using a small 6" dowel as a "yawara stick."

OK, I know I am fairly Of Topic by now, especially in a BJJ thread, but could you PM me with the possible translation for "Jitsu". You've got me curious now. I have previously thought that Jitsu and Jutsu were almost interchangeable.

Jim London.

22nd October 2002, 18:28
jitsu is the currently acceptedd rominization of the Japanese word for truth the 2 kana are ji and tsu. Later I will post a graphic of the kanji

23rd October 2002, 18:55
here is the kanji for jitsu


Jim London
13th November 2002, 04:57

Did you even read the thread??

Go back and read the post by Hissho on page two of the thread, he effectively answered my original question. It is evident to me now that BJJ has a different standard for what constitutes an instructor. After reading his reply I did some web searching and found a number of excellent books written by BJJ Brown Belts, see:

Jiu-Jitsu.net (http://www.jiu-jitsu.net)

For the BJJ master text, I am not sure of the Gene Arahna's (spelling?) current rank but at the begining of his writing career he was a BJJ brown belt, though a Japanese Ju-jutsu Black Belt.

Every art is responsible to police itself and determine what constitutes an instructor, this is usually a Black Belt. In BJJ, as I have learned, it is not.

I personally like to know the background and qualifications of anyone I choose to learn from. It is absolutely a legitimate question to ask. To quote Tim Cartmell in this thread:

You ask valid questions, here's my response. First of all, Mike and Shojin have already covered the bottom line, regardless of our rank, the question is can practitioners learn useful techniques and strategies from the information presented? We believe the answer is yes. We could have waited a couple of years and published the book after we received black belts, and with the exception of posing for the pictures in a different colored belts, the information would have been exactly the same

Jim London

15th November 2002, 09:17
Romanization is the attempted for non native speakers to use there native tongue to figure out foreign words. As well as there are several romanization methods.

JUTSU and JITSU have been the accepted romanji for the same kanji (in this case "Technique") But that doesn't mean the JITSU can't be used for another kanji. (KI is used for at least five kanji I can think of off the top of my head) In English we have stair and stare that sound the same but mean two different things. In Japanese if you were to right it in katakana it would be the same thing becaue of the way they sound.

6th December 2002, 00:55
Back inthe 1980s in the UK it was quite difficult to find a black belt Aikido teacher. We had to travel, or invite them (or do Judo). And they were good. And we trained hard, even if it was amongst ourselves - we were dedicated kyu-grades. Now black belts are ten a penny and many are ... not so good.

BJJ is at that stage - there are not enough teachers to cater for the demand. And it will have the effect that students have to travel or invite - and they will make the most of their contact and study hard. Later, as more black belts appear, somehow, mysteriously, training will be diluted.

If a kyu grade writes a book - so what - if it's good, people will buy it. If not, they won't. I remember someone quoting a Japanese Sensei elsewhere in this forum on hearing that his foreign student had written a book - he said something like - "How dare he write a book, I've been training for x number of years and I wouldn't presume to know enough to write a book." Well, it went something like that. As for me, I think anyone can write a book - a journalist with no experience might write far a better honest piece than we could just by observing what we do!

Jujutsu is the correct romanisation of the art. Other methods are oudated, or mistaken. Most schools directly connected to Japan use Jujutsu. If you study Bocshing or Resling, I guess that's fine too.

Rupert Atkinson

Jeff Cook
19th December 2002, 01:49
None other than the Kodokan spells it "jujitsu." See http://www.kodokan.org/e_basic/history.html Those whacky Japanese! ;)

My International Webster and Oxford American Dictionary (Heald Colleges Edition) also spell it "jujitsu." Go figure. I guess they are "incorrect" and "outdated" as well....

Anyway, back on topic. I am a rokudan of Japanese-derived jujitsu, sandan in judo, and a few other dan ranks in various other things. I train as a white belt (four stripes) under Prof. Charles dos Anjos, a former Gracie Barra instructor. When he is not around to teach, I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to be trained by his blue, purple, and brown belts.

The dan-i rank system is an artificial construct (sometimes loosely based upon perceived skill, more often not), a tool which is used in slightly different ways by different groups. Some groups become a slave to the ranking/certification system, some groups don't.

Skill on the mat is not artificial.

Jeff Cook

Goju Man
20th December 2002, 23:00
Jeff, herein lies the problem with many traditional systems. In many traditional ryuha, many yudansha are not skilled at their level, yet they don't have to "prove" anything. There are schools that are run by purple and brown belts that are exellent, yet if they don't have the color "black" they are not respected. I think that when you have the author of this thread, who admits that many blue belts can have their way with other black belts, he should be woried about how he can even the playing feild of skill instead of crying that they are not yudansha. That's the mentality that keeps other arts from evolving and progressing.

Jeff Cook
21st December 2002, 00:25
Agreed, Manny. That's why my ass is currently on a BJJ mat, when not teaching in my own school!

As a jujitsu guy, I have found it necessary to improve ALL facets of my game; that is why I sought out instruction to black belt level in karate (to improve my atemi waza) and judo to dan level (to improve my nage waza). Jujitsu is an extremely broad art, and really does not specialize in any one area. So I visit specialists to improve in various areas. This is pretty much the traditional way of traveling farther down the path: go to people who are better than you are in certain areas, and beg them to teach you.

By the way, I am happy to report that from day 1, no blue belt has "had his way" with me; I have been able to hold my own quite well while learning some extremely valuable lessons that have improved my ground game immeasureably. But I also get a good helping of humility on the mat, which is very good for me and my students, and I love and deeply respect my BJJ mentors and instructors for not only improving my game but more importantly for improving my character.

Jeff Cook

Goju Man
21st December 2002, 01:29
I'm very happy to hear that Jeff. That is what the martial arts are about. If you look at some of the pioneers of the arts, all have gone outside their respective arts to stay on top of their game. I think the traditionalists should re evaluate themselves and their priorities to put themselves back on the map. Only in that world have I had someone in their forties say that a Seventy seven year old can "wipe the floor with him". I've seen some pretty impressive elders still training, and respect them immensly, but all things being normal, it is not physically possible. They need to dispense with the myths and Santa Clause stories and get to it. My school just merged with another down here, and now have the best of bjj and wrestling. We have a professional ring and some great competitors.

Jeff Cook
21st December 2002, 03:31
Fantastic! Congratulations with your school! I plan on being down your way next month for the NAGA US Nationals. Will I meet you there?

Jeff Cook

Goju Man
21st December 2002, 16:16
January 18th, I will be there. We'll talk before so we can meet there. Hector will be there also. Look forward to seeing you.;)

1st January 2003, 01:16
Regardless of what one may think of BJJ compared to the Japanese arts, you really can not compare the 2 ranking systems.
From my understanding, a BJJ practitioner can teach at blue or purple belt. A black belt is granted to experts in the art.
Whereas in a Japanese system, a first degree black belt (or Shodan to use the correct terminology) signifies a beginer. I know SHO means BEGINER and I believe DAN means STEP (as in the rung of a ladder).
BJJ and the Japanese arts not only different ranks and tecniques but different goals and philosophies.
So you really can't compare the ranking systems.

Jim Mc Coy

1st January 2003, 13:12
That's why my ass is currently on a BJJ mat, when not teaching in my own school!

Just your ASS?!?!?! You realize other parts of your body are suppose to be on the mat as well.:D Seriously, I should be in GA in FEB for school (BNCOC) I plan on visiting family and friend in FL. Would you mind if I stopped by to meet you?

I would love to go to NAGA in Jan, but I will still be here. However I do have a wrestling invitational that weekend so it isn't a total loss. Besides I got to payback one particular AF guy.

(I know SHO means BEGINER and I believe DAN means STEP (as in the rung of a ladder).

SHO genrally means FIRST or PRIMARY. DAN, as you know, is DEGREE, STEP, PLATFORM, etc.

A shodan simply means that you have taken you first grade in the dan ranks and are no longer a kyu. But this image has been distorted for a long time. Many still feel that once they hit the first dan they should have masted the system, but as we know that is not the case.

Jeff Cook
1st January 2003, 20:25

My ass is the largest and heaviest part of my body, and due to gravity, it seeks out the lowest point, and thus seems to always be in touch with the mat....;)

I would love to link up with you! My unit received it's mobilization order yesterday, but we should still be able to hook up in February. Our mob station is Ft. Stewart. Are you going to be there? Let me know. If not, we can probably hook up after. Shoot me an email with your address so I can tell you what's going on, and where we might be able to hook up at.

Whup that USAF guy's butt good! I didn't know they wrassle; does he know that he isn't gonna be rolling around in jello wearing a thong?

Jeff Cook