Question for Roy

Ever since I got promoted, I have become very conservative in my game, because I do not want to tap
to a lower belt. Is this normal and how can I over come this? (It's been about 2 weeks)


Your response is normal, and the response of your training partners is
also normal.

There is a tendency within our community for lower belts to want to
TEST the newly promoted blue, purple, brown or black belts. Why that
is? I don't really know. I can only surmise that is has to do with
challenging, establishing and maintaining a pecking order.

For years, I have taught that there are three levels of belts:

  1. Those who just barely passed their test (that is, if the instructor even
    gave them a test).

  2. Those who prepared for and passed the test with good performance.

  3. Those who should have taken the test two years ago.

Actually, there are five levels. The other two levels are #4 - those who
never even came close to passing the test but got their promotion
anyways, and #5 - the sandbaggers who should have tested for their
next belt level five or more years ago.

When I first got my black belt in 1998, the "Brazilian" community was
up in arms. Notable named BJJ black belt instructors called my
instructor to tell him I didn't deserve my black belt and that he should
take it away from me. A most notable Brazilian from Brazil e-mailed
me and told me he knew I wasn't ready for black belt. When I asked
him how he knew I wasn't ready, especially since he had never met me
or trained with me, he wrote this:

"I know because you've only trained for seven years!"

I asked him how my seven years of training disqualifies me and he had
this to say:

"Well, I have been a blue belt for eight years. I have won many
competitions, and I know you are not ready. It is people like you who
make a bad name for Jiu Jitsu. I will come to your academy and tap you
in front of your students. I will show the world that a blue belt can tap
a person who thinks he is a black belt."

I invited him to come to my academy and train with me or teach me. to
this day, he has never shown his face.

So, I wrote all of that to say this:

Sometimes, people become jealous with YOUR promotion. And
sometimes, people want to give you are hard time because of your
promotion. Either way, you need to learn from ALL of your experiences.
What do I mean by that? Consider this:

  • Many students are willing to learn from an instructional video.

  • Many students are willing to learn from a seminar or workshop.

  • Many students are willing to learn from their training partners or
    even a stranger who can offer them something.

  • Many students are willing to learn from a black belt instructor.

  • Few students are willing to learn from the tap!

I'd like you to consider one more thing:

You are involved in a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun. If the
only way you can have fun with a hobby is for you to always win (or
when you don't win to stalemate the match), then your perspecitve on
that hobby is distorted and you are limiting what you can experience
within the hobby.

Have fun my friend! Learn from every experience in Jiu Jitsu - for they
can all teach you something about yourself, about your training
partner, about the culture within the hobby and about the hobby itself!

I want to encourage you to make yourself vulnerable more often. For
only through vulnerability can one make HUGE gains in overall
experience. It is only through experience where we learn the

Roy Harris

P.S. Only by letting people into the game and putting yourself in harm's
way can you learn to extract yourself from these difficult positions.
There is no other way to learn how to swim through fire other than

actually swimming through fire!

Thanks for your advice Roy.
I have saved your thread and have gone over it several times, each time it's like peeling another
layer off an onion. Very encouraging thanks.

What I'm about to say, I do not say lightly.  However, it comes straight from my heart:

I think that this last post by Roy may possibly be THE most powerful post ever made by Roy Harris, on this forum, about the topic of Jiu Jitsu, in terms of wisdom and revelation.

Roy, I will be including a copy of the question and your answer in EVERY student and instructor manual I ever hand out, from now on.

Your student and friend,

Adam LaClair

very good