We at Atos Jiu-jitsu Philippines had some belt changes over the weekend and I’m glad to have the staff blog as an outlet and share some thoughts on the topic of promotions in BJJ.
Is there a universal standard on how to grade and conduct Brazilian Jiu-jitsu promotions? We don’t think so. Some teams will promote based solely on tenure, or competition results, etc.
What I do think our team looks at when we promote:
- Level – The degree of your understanding of Jiujitsu and your application during positions and sparring. Hard to verbalize but an experienced instructor knows it when he feels, sees it. How long does it take a practitioner to understand and learn a new technique? Does he/she rely solely on speed, strength, flexibility to execute their techniques? How smooth are their transitions, reactions and adjustments while rolling? Are they controlling the grip exchanges? How solid are their fundamentals? Is their game built well and considering a high level opponent? Are they good in their efficiency with energy? How is their base/balance? Do their techniques work on someone bigger/smaller/faster than themself? Are you well-rounded – do you have a good guard? Can you pass guard? I see “level” by far the most important thing when considering a belt change, if we put a number, it has to be easily more than 50% of what a promotion will be based on. Maybe 75%
- Evolution – The open-ness to learn new techniques, develop their own games and adapt to the rapid advancement of Jiu-jitsu. You need to evolve in Jiu-jitsu, period. Not evolving shows you aren’t putting yourself in a challenging enough situation in training. Get out of your comfort zone and ask to spar with the toughest rolls in the room. If you need to go to another gym to find that challenge, go as often as you can. Camp in Atos HQ, San Diego if you can afford it, it will do wonders not just for your Jiu-jitsu but also your perspective in life and how deep learning goes.
- Consistency/Attendance – This is a tough one. People have lives and schedules, other priorities, work, meetings, families. Still you have to show up. I think it’s hard to earn a quick promotion if you’ve been away from training for a long period. Training sessions can be as short as an hour and a half, I think your coach expecting you to come a few times a week is minimal. Get your hours on the mat and your level should go up with a dedicated coach. Train with partners who challenge you and you will evolve.
- Tenure – Sometimes it just takes time. Please, enjoy your time at your current belt level too! Once it’s changed you won’t really be able to experience it again.
- Competition – If you’re very belt-focused, this is for sure the best way to fast track your promotion. Whether you win or lose, it shows you’re confident in your game and at the very least you’re willing to test it out against other people around your same experience level or higher. Getting a gold is good, but it isn’t the be all, end all. The level of competition, the field, your game, avoiding big mistakes can be more important. Are you far from the head coach of your affiliation? Other than regularly coming to train with your head coach, this is another option for you. No, gold medals where you have no matches because there were no other competitors in your bracket don’t count! Lol. Your coaches love to see you testing out your game in a competition for sure, and if you’re able to put things together, only good things can come from it. Even after a bad performance, your game might possibly even grow more. Also, please be a positive representative of your team and be a good sport. Note: If you’re a great competitor, your coach will also be keeping you for an important title for your career.
- Contribution to the Community – This is not the focus of belt changes but it should also be important. Are you a good representative? Are you a good training partner willing to help? Are you a positive influence to your teammates? Does your coach have good things to say about you as a person and your game? Do you pay your dues? Do you come on time? Just kidding, Saul. Be a role model to the lower belts when you can, and support your upper belts and this will not go unnoticed.
These are what come to mind right away and are only my own unedited thoughts, combined with what I was taught and exposed to by my mentors – and most importantly what we see in our team Atos Jiu-jitsu International. Belt changes come, sometimes sooner than you think and sometimes later. Not everyone’s path is alike and balancing a team is a challenging task for your coaches, they appreciate your continued dedication. After all, Jiu-jitsu is not about just belts alone!
Thank you to those who came to the Atos Christmas Party 2022 and everyone who cheers and supports us and our team! And thank you for visiting the staff blog.