So, how do I gain promotions? That is a popular question asked by most students beginning in martial arts. A question like that presented to instructors of traditional martial arts like Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, and American Karate can receive a direct answer and even feedback as to when they can expect to receive promotions. The same question presented to an instructor of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu may get an indirect answer with a lot of questions presented to the student.
Most martial arts are known for using a systematic and formalized approach to belt rank progression while Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is known for using a
loose framework and, sometimes, subjective approach to belt promotion. It is fair to say that most martial arts use a universal system to promoting their students. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is quite the opposite. Some bjj teams even have a different focus as to how they teach their students and evaluate their progress with sport BJJ being the main focus of some instructors while self-defense is a priority of others.
Many jiu-jitsu instructors are conservative when promoting their students. Because of this unique evaluation of BJJ competitors the journey to the black belt is a long one. Yes, there are stories of notable fighters like Roberto Traven and Mike Fowler who received their black belts in 4 years or less, but the opposite is usually true. There are many black belts that trained for 10-15 years before they received the coveted belt.
So, why is that? Why is it that it takes so long to gain promotions? Why is it that so many instructors vary on their evaluation procedures? Why is there not a universal system and time frame? This series will attempt to address some of these questions and more.