White to Blue Belt Syllabus?

Does your school/organisation have a set syllabus for each belt level? What would you teach a class of beginners?

I saw one at http://www.thirdheaven.com/jj_beltprep.html

Found Pedro Sauer's syllabus online at


DUDE! I call syllabus like this EVIL and making for watering down of bjj.

What use is SHOWING some techniques you never do?

Edited because my point was reconsidered.

Syllabi create expectation. IF I "know" this move or that, then I should be this stripe or that stripe.

From my experience, if one worries about his/her stripes as a white belt, one will be saddly disapointed with the length of time spent between stripes rather than pleased with the time at that belt as a whole.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Even the guys out there keeping a sprint pace (e.g. Fowler, J.Gover) know this.

Regardless of your time in white, blue is tough, purple from my experience has been far more difficult, but also more awesome than blue was. Someday I will add in my comments about brown and black, but I have another long road ahead before belt color shift.

So just enjoy the ride.

Man... I mean these syllabuses are not ridiculous technique-wise... One could win the mundials with a "bluebelt" list. The idea is rotten from the very roots imho.

Roy Harris uses his syllabus ONLY for blue belt testing. He wants to
make sure that anyone he promotes to blue has a well rounded game,
and a basic understanding of areas that they may not actually yet have
a "skill" in (but still need to be able to recognize it). And it should be
noted that there IS live sparring done to demonstrate skill in the areas
he prioritizes (mount escapes, side mount escapes, guard control,
guard passing). He also tests your HEART. After you've rolled for two
rounds with other people, you have to roll with Roy himself. He'll set
up opportunities for you to see if you "see" them and take them, and
then he CRUSHES you to see if you quit (you better not!) It is NOT just
demonstrating techniques statically. It is actually a very difficult test to
pass. I put Roy's blue belt test way above most style's black belt tests
in degree of difficulty AND technical knowledge required to pass.

Anyone who rolls with a Harris blue belt should be able to attest that
there is NO "watering down" going on, whatsoever. Roy's blues are
among the toughest i've rolled with anywhere.

For purple belts and beyond, Roy has NO syllabus of "techniques." He
is looking for very specific things at each level, but it's all "tested" for
by what you can do on the mats in live sparring. He may ask to see
things from the blue belt test again (just to see if you remember), but
you have to pass the sparring portion (30 minutes with him!) or you
don't pass. I'm looking forward to this challenge personally, but I
know better than to even try until I get my shoulder injury healed and
my cardio back. It doesn't matter what I "know" - it's been made clear
that if I can't "do" it on the mats in the test, I won't pass.

For brown and black belts, I've been told that it's even tougher. The
black belt test was reported by one person to be more than two hours
of complete grappling hell! Yeah, that sounds like watering down.


Syllabi aren't the problem, guys. It's the TEST that is the problem. If
you have a syllabus that you just have to "demonstrate" against a non-
resisting opponent, then you are doing a TMA type test, and it is
bogus. However, if you have a syllabus that has to be done in
sparring, against live resistance...... that's just organizing our skills
into a structured standard that PREVENTS anyone from watering down
the art.

In contrast, to me, an example of what WOULD water the art down
would be to promote someone who could pull off one takedown, one
guard pass, and finish one submission, against most people their
"level." But, what happens when they run into someone who takes
THEM down, and they don't have the skills to do anything from there?

Or what about the guy who always pulls guard and goes for the
triangle or armbar, and gets it most of the time, but doesn't have a
clue about how to take someone down or what to do from the top?

In my opinion, standards such as Roy's that use a syllabus of
techniques for the lower ranks to create awareness to the whole
"game," and then specific performance requirements for the higher
levels, is the best way to keep the charlatans and wanna-bes from
watering the art down. For example, without a syllabus, Matt Hughes
could go into many schools and get a BJJ Black belt. And although
Hughes is really good, I don't see him using what "I" consider to be BJJ
strategy or Black belt level submissions. (A lot of freak strength, but
not a high level of submission technique).

Nicely stated Mr. LaClair!


"This is a marathon, not a sprint. Even the guys out there keeping a sprint pace (e.g. Fowler, J.Gover) know this."

Also keep in mind that Fowler is training full time under the direct supervision of a black belt who's own claim to fame was receiving his black belt in a very short amount of time.

so you guys who said that a syllabus will water down BJJ. Do you think the likes of Rickson Gracie, Jacare, Pedrp Sauer, Luiz Palhares would allow that too happen and all of them use a syllabus? I think its a good way to determine what a person knows. Competition is not the best way. Many guys who compete only have 4-6 positions and that is all they are good at. Our Assoc(Luiz Palhares) test via syllabus up too brown belt. He says that is enough, cone you get your brown its just a matter of training hard to get you black.

I'm not against well rounded game. I'm all for it. Personally I do not think that the fact that what is Rickson's or Roy Harris's view on the syllabus principle affects my view on it. I think an ideal testing for bjj should consist of just fighting from different positions with an emphasis maybe on bottom positions.

I used to hate the idea of a test for BJJ. I now think that it is brilliant to test for blue belt, and only blue belt.

There are some guys who become monster blue belts because they have great attributes, or one part of their game is so developed that they can overwhelm all white belts and most other blue belts. But ask them to show the technical details of a basic pass or what to look for when trying to elbow escape the mount, and they are lost.

It is really important for blue belts to have a thorough understanding of the basics. They dont need to be excellent at them, but they have to know when and why you use the fundamentals.

After blue belt, the game becomes much more individualized, and performance and a bunch of attributes become much more important IMO. That is the part that should never really be affected by structure, but from white to blue should be an important step that is only taken when one can demonstrate that they have a solid foundation.


During the rolling portion with Roy, he tests your HEART. I remember that during my blue belt test, the ONLY time I got off my back, even for a second, was when he put me in a headlock. He does it to make sure you've been working your headlock escapes. As soon as I got to my knees he swept me back over and got right back into the grind (pun intended).

Roy is absolutely the nicest guy I've ever trained with. However, the pressure he puts on during these tests are horrendous. I've heard that only 3 people made it through the purple exam without throwing up afterwards.

I know that the last time some of my students tested for blue, I heard noises come out of them that I've NEVER heard before (and one of them is a BIG guy.....football coach at the local university, 12 years of wrestling....). Once Mr. Harris got on top, it was all done except the gurgling. :-)


It's funny because it's true. I can testify to it. Been there and been smashed. It really is fun though.

Rob Voss