How far is that from a Black Belt?

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Mom: How was your weekend?

JJ365: Good! All went well. Oh, yeah, I was promoted to Blue Belt this weekend.

Mom: Oooh, Congratulations! How’s your shoulder?

JJ365: Thanks!  It’s fine.

Mom: Are you still going to the doctor? You should still get it checked out.

JJ365: I’m feeling fine. I may have it looked at when I get a check up. (No plans for a check up./Just trying to change the subject)

Mom: (to father off phone: He was promoted to Blue belt this weekend.)  Your father says good job!

JJ365: Tell him I said thanks!

Mom: Ok. —  So how far is that from a Black Belt?

JJ365: Uh, um about 4 or 5 years.

Mom: Oh.. (slight disappointment in voice)

And there goes the scenario for many conversations I’ve had about my practice of BJJ over the years. Many of my relatives and friends do not understand why I would go someplace where someone would, as I have heard it described, “beat on me.” Or as my mother-in-law says “Karate class.”

Is Bakari still taking that Karate?

Tell your mom I am not taking Karate.

Or when my father-in-law found out that I was still practicing BJJ after all these years, (he was talking to my wife on the phone) he asked what belt I was.

When my wife told him I was a white belt (at the time) I heard a noticeable pause on the phone and then he changed the subject. If I wasn’t present I’m sure the conversation would have gone something like this:

Father in Law (F-I-L): He has been taking BJJ for four years and is still a white belt?

Wife: (fumbling over response) Uh, well he used to take no-gi and now he’s taking it with the gi.

F-I-L: No-gi, gi? (quickly changing the subject) Uh, Okay.

My wife even calls it Judo sometimes but I forgive her because we were an item during my Judo days and I used to scoop her up from her dorm when I would leave practice.


10 thoughts on “How far is that from a Black Belt?

    Elyse said:
    March 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve told my parents, I’ve demonstrated to them, I’ve sent them videos… and they STILL ask me if I broke my wrist cause I punched someone.



    leslie said:
    March 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I guess that’s one benefit I have with a TKD black belt — I can tell everyone I already have a BB, even if they don’t get the BJJ thing. 😛

    My instructor opened his school when he was a purple belt, which is of course perfectly respectable in BJJ. He’d have lots of parents bring their kids in and look at his belt. “You don’t have a black belt? My 12-year-old has a black belt!” He’d try to explain, but they’d walk out.

    And then adults with TKD/karate/etc. black belts would come in, wearing their belt and flaunting their rank. Tim would roll with them first and demolish them. If they came back, they’d have a white belt and a different attitude.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    March 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm


    I know what you mean. There are no punches and kicks and no is “beating” me.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    March 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    LOL Leslie,

    A Black belt is the only thing that “speaks” to most non-martial artists. Otherwise they don’t want to hear it.

    My young nephews didn’t understand why I was a white belt either until they went to their first BJJ class and had their ‘lunch money’ stolen.

    Conan said:
    March 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    “…had their ‘lunch money’ stole.” Too funny! I think your family must know mine, because of the suspiciously similar conversations. 😉

    John Miles said:
    March 3, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    First off congrats on the blue belt. Did you get your magic powers? Or does that come with the purple?

    Secondly, LOL about the family and friends not understanding what you do. I hear the same thing…

    “Is John still doing karate?”

    “Honey, it’s ka-ra-tay!”

    “Actually guys it’s Brazilian… never mind.”

    jiujitsu365 said:
    March 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Hey Conan,

    It’s a small world!

    jiujitsu365 said:
    March 3, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Appreciate it John,

    I don’t know if it will have the ‘mojo effect’ in my academy or not, but in my first class since the promotion I did get threatened by a white belt.

    I overheard him telling someone he was going to test my blue belt out.

    steve said:
    March 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm


    Rstraker said:
    March 5, 2009 at 7:39 am

    A couple of thoughts about describing BJJ and belts…


    “The belt system’s different in Jiu-Jitsu.”


    “You know how you can get a Taekwondo or Karate black belt in, oh, 1-3 years? It takes about 10 years in Jiu-Jitsu.”


    “A black belt in Jiu-Jitsu’s more like a master-level black belt in most martial arts.”


    “You know in Karate and Taekwondo they beat you up standing up? In Jiu-Jitsu, they wrestle you down to the ground to beat you up!”

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