Coach’s Corner: Belt Ranks, Expectation, & Attitude – Eugene BJJ

Coach’s Corner: Belt Ranks, Expectation, & Attitude – Eugene BJJ

I have been training in martial arts for over 15 years. One of the things I fell victim to is the mentality of “I tapped out so and so, who is a higher belt, so now I am ready for my next promotion”. This is the attitude of inexperience and like I said I am no different from anyone else and have falsely believed in things like this in the past. It is important to move beyond this idea as soon as possible and never look back. This is not the Wild West; you do not get to take their horse after your shootout in the O.K. Corral.


An attitude like this is detrimental to the health and well-being of the academy and to the progress of your martial arts training. The only thing that a mindset like this does is prove to your instructor that you are in fact not ready for promotion. Getting submitted is the result of making some mistakes while rolling – which everyone does. It does not add or subtract value from anyone’s belt. Just think how terrible training would be if your only goal was to not get tapped out: it would be a bunch of people laying around in the fetal position thinking they have mastered jiu-jitsu. If said attitude were to run rampant all the upper belts would be too busy trying to protect the value of their rank instead of enjoying the art and training freely.Training with someone who is attempting to prove their worth by trying to submit you is not very enjoyable. When on the mat you can prove your rank by just doing your best and having the right attitude. It’s not about memorizing a certain set of techniques or being able to win matches – it’s just as important to be someone who adds to the academy and benefits their training partners.


The bottom line is that everyone will be promoted at different rates and for different reasons, but mostly based on their own progress. Major progress for some may seem very minor to others. While the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) has set forth minimum time requirements for each belt, these are minimum times. Everyone proceeds at a different pace. It is important to remember it will be your turn for promotion to the next belt as long as you keep doing the best you are capable of. I can recall feeling like I was due for promotion and not getting it and watching others earn theirs. It is important to feel happy for others as they earn their belts because it is a great accomplishment and with proper training and attitude you will be up soon enough. Don’t worry – there isn’t a limited supply of belts available.


  • At our academy you can’t submit your way into your next rank. It is not wrong to go after submissions in training, but they will in no way help you toward your next promotion.


  • No one at our gym is over-ranked or under-ranked. Each person has the rank they have because it was the right rank for them at the right time. Trust your instructor to do the same for you.


  • When you see someone get promoted congratulate them. We are all working towards the same destination.


About the Author: Professor Ben Baxter is a 1st degree black belt under Rafael Lovato Jr. Ben has been a staple of the Eugene BJJ community for more than 15 years, and is also the head instructor of Performance Martial Arts Academy. For more information on him visit his Instructor-Bio here –

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