Criteria for Rank in BJJ

This is a really touchy subject.  I have seen adults act like children when it comes to getting promoted in BJJ!

What creates some of this frustration is that most schools do not have a clear set of requirements for advancement.   I understand why students can get frustrated.

It took my 11 years to achieve my black belt, and now as an instructor I can shed some light on what instructors are looking for.

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Gichin Funakoshi


Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the founder of modern Karate-Do.

Note from Ryan Fiorenzi:  The life of Gichin Funakoshi is not as dramatic as Mas Oyamas.  But it is helpful to study the lives of masters such as his, to understand that not all martial artists fight.  Our role models are a huge influence on our life and behavior, whether we admit it or not.

Gichin Funakoshi was a humble man of great power.  It is said when he was on the mat, he was a force of nature.  Off the mat, he didn’t drink, smoke, or fight.  He was a student of calligraphy and poetry.  He dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of Karate, and his life is a contrast to the modern view of what it means to be a martial artist.

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The Meaning of the Bow

In my opinion, bowing is the most important technique in all of the martial arts.  In this post I will explain what the different types of bows are why the bow is so important.

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Abundance and Scarcity in BJJ

My early years in Jiu-Jitsu were rough in many ways!  One of my negative experiences was learning a different way to do a guard pass.  One day I was doing the pass where you slide one arm in between their legs and you leave one arm in between their legs.  I had learned this pass from one of the teachers at this school a few years back, and that same teacher came over to me and said, “Don’t do that pass this way anymore.  You’ll get triangled every time.  Now that you’re going to compete for us, I’m going to show you some better ways to do things.”

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World Champions Leo Viera and BJ Penn Rolling

I like this video for two reasons.

The first is how BJ Penn defends his guard being passed.  Notice how he always keeps some kind of barrier up to prevent the pass, and how he keeps moving his hips.  And the way he uses his legs is really interesting!

The second is how relaxed both of them are throughout the training.

This is a 10 minute video- the first few minutes is probably the best.

Feel free to comment on this video.

How To Not Quit Jiu-Jitsu (part 2)

continued from part 1…

I have been training martial arts since 1987.  It is not a long time, but one of the things I am most proud of is that I have never quit.  The only time I have taken off was due to injury.  One thing I can honestly say is that at least 99% of the time that I didn’t feel like training, and I made myself get in the car and go to the dojo, I was very happy that I did it.  If I was in a bad mood or dealing with some issue, training cleared my head.  I couldn’t think about my ex-girlfriend, money, or whatever the current issue was when someone was trying to choke me or hit me.  It actually relieves stress to have someone try to submit me, because I can’t think of anything else other than that!  It gives me a break from my problems.

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How To Not Quit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (part 1)

The Challenge

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the hardest martial arts to learn.  But it is also one of the most rewarding.  There is something really honest about having to tap, and if you don’t,  something will break, or you’ll go to sleep.  But it can be hard to take.

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Rank (part 2) by Guest Columnist Eric Smith

continued from part 1…

Expectations and Entitlement

Paying tuition or a testing fee does not entitle anyone to a promotion. Chuck Norris flunked his first black belt exam. He didn’t complain or quit, he just made corrections without complaining and continued to train smarter and harder. Where we think we are at skill wise and where are instructor’s know we are at can be very different views. Let it be a joy to your instructor to promote you when through their experience they deem you are ready. Through their expertise, they see areas that need improvement prior to promotion that we may not yet see. Make improving yourself your main priority and place it above any desire for acclaim and rewards. A black belt in any art is where you are suppose to start the ‘real’ learning. It’s like graduating high school. Many black belts quit shortly after receiving their belt because their focus was solely on achieving a piece of colored cloth.

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Why Meditate?

Meditation is one of the most powerful tools for improving your martial arts abilities and your life.  Here’s how it will help your Jiu-Jitsu:

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Rank (part 1) by Guest Columnist Eric Smith

“This belt only covers two inches of my butt, I have to cover the rest.”  -Royce Gracie

“There are no shortcuts on a path worth traveling.”  -Unknown

The thoughts below come from several sources and are not all original thoughts of mine but rather information and a perspective that guide me through my training. Therefore I do not take credit for this body of knowledge.

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