Master Black Belt
- Dec 6, 2006
- Reaction score
I think part of the problem is that the ranking system in Bjj is quite a bit different than the ranking systems of other martial arts. In Bjj, a blue belt is the equivalent of a black belt in a lot of styles. A Bjj purple belt is instructional level, and that's the equivalent of a second or third degree BB in many systems. Most people don't make it past blue, much less purple due to the requirement of time invested. Also the promotions can be a little wacky sometimes. Your instructor will just come in one day and give you a stripe and say congratulations. Sometimes your instructor doesn't promote you for a very long time. So yeah, if you make it to black, that's quite a accomplishment.
Then there's the expectations that come along with being a black belt. You're tested constantly by just about everyone. Tapping a black belt is a massive accomplishment in Bjj, and its everyone's dream from white to purple to tap one out. So you have a big target on your back, and if you get tapped, you lose respect. The last thing you want is to be the Bjj school that puts out soft black belts. As a Shotokan black belt, I never had to worry about anything like that. No one ever came into my dojo wanting to fight me or anything, and I never had to spar with lower belts who wanted to take my head off. However, in my time in Bjj my instructor or co-instructor have been challenged many times, and the entire school watches when it takes place.
So yeah, that's where my reasoning comes from.
I follow what you're saying but from a karate context and your comments on Shotokan, I can't really relate to your experience at all (which is fine, maybe your club was very different). As a bb in goju ryu and even when starting as a junior (having come across as quite a senior TKD practitioner) I was quite often fighting with people coming from other clubs (I too went to spar or at times "challenge" myself/them at different clubs, in fact the very reason I joined my goju club is that I was a good TKD tournament fighter and at this club got annihilated by the second sensei who I'd mistaken as just some old geezer, who was about the third person I fought with on the night).
When training or sparring with the lower belts and juniors in my club I always had to focus as they were always trying to "take my head off" - not in a personal way - but so to better themselves. Now and then a junior would throw a beautiful strike or kick after a great feint or the like and catch me a good one. Sometimes I was startled but we all had a laugh and full credit to them! Just as I would now and then manage to submit or get a point off the sensei.
No one lost any respect "loosing" to a lower level practitioner and no one was worried about that, everyone simply wants to perform to the best of their ability. I find it hard to believe that for some reason in bjj a senior loses respect for that?? Really? That's harsh and doesn't stack up a bit with the bjj, judo and jj guys (some quite senior) that would also train at our club from time to time and freestyle with us. Sure, it may be a bit questionable if they tap to a very junior student but weird stuff happens in MA right up to championship and world title level, sometimes the under-dog just gets lucky.
Would you lose respect for your instructor if she tapped out to someone better or "worse" than her?