Purple Belt

Guy promotes himself to Brown Belt

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Wow, if life was that easy.

If you watched the BJJ vs the Vacuum Cleaner  video on Peter Soto’s Youtube page, then you probably saw the video of a guy who promoted himself to Brown belt. If not, here is the video below.


I get it. I understand the frustration and the wanting to buck the system. I often felt that I deserved a little more rank than I held. However, at the same time I know how difficult it is to say how good you are because there is always someone who can beat you in BJJ in the lower ranks. Or the guys and gals of your rank spank you so often it is difficult to claim that you deserve a higher belt. All kind of variables can be interjected in trying to figure your belt level.

I also suspect the Dunning Kruger Effect plays into self-evaluation. With the Dunning Kruger Effect it is found that advanced students and those who make the better grades have a more realistic idea of how well they will perform when taking exams. They even underestimate their abilities. Those who have lower grades or are poor students overestimate how well they will perform on exams. (Time spent studying also plays a role.)  I have no idea of this guy’s skill level, how good a BJJ student he is, etc., but I know self-evaluation can get you into trouble.

When I earned my Ph.D. and I was out celebrating with family and friends, I had a person come up to me (not in my group) and say she was going to get a Ph.D. at one time but decided not to. She didn’t say try to earn either. I didn’t get angry, but it rubbed me the wrong way. The lady said it as if claiming it could happen, it would happen.  As if my five years spent obtaining it was reducible to a bold claim.

Most of us have been awarded a title, rank or achievement by others after passing a curriculum. If after studying the curriculum for a period of time and you feel you did not receive the proper recognition, would you promote or award yourself a designation?

In the end. It is only a belt. Redd Foxx once said he and a friend were walking down a street  in St. Louis and a man jumped out of an alley into a Karate stance and said, “Give me your wallets, I’ve got a Black belt.” Foxx’s friend pulled out a pistol and said, “Good, they are going to need it to lower you a@# in the ground!”

I loved tapping out Brown belts when I was a Blue belt and I tapped out a few Black belts at purple belt. To have someone ask, how long have you been a Blue belt or why are you still a ____ belt was gold to my ears.

What do you think about self-promotions?

Bakari is the author of Grappling 101: How to Avoid being Bullied on the MatPsychology of Brazilian Jiu-JitsuGrappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.








Promoted to Purple Belt! Yeah Baby!!!

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Prof Shealy Promotes me to Purple Belt!

It was a beautiful setting. I couldn’t ask for a more idyllic scene to receive my Purple Belt. Today we held a seminar with Rigan Machado; BJJ legend and 8th Black Belt. Two of the first books I ever bought were by Machado (Encyclopedia of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I and III).

There were about 50 people in attendance, many of whom I have trained with for 2 years now. Professor Shealy started off by saying there were some people he wanted to recognize and then he started calling us up. Jason Dominguez received his Black Belt. I was called up second and received my Purple Belt. Prof handed Master Rigan Machado the belt and then Machado took off my Blue Belt and tied the Purple Belt around my waist.

Master Rigan Machado Awards me my Purple Belt

I was all smiles while it happened and really appreciated the applause afterward. Not for vanity’s sake, but because I have trained over and over with these guys and without them it wouldn’t have been possible.

I trained for a year in judo in the late 90s, started no gi in 2004 and began training with the gi in 2008. I have moved often due to my career and didn’t receive my Blue Belt until Feb 2009. Since that time I have trained in two different academies.

In other words, it took me 8 years to earn a purple belt. Even though I have a million excuses, I am finally glad that I have a permanent BJJ home that I can grow in and progress. Some people probably dismiss the idea of BJJ being a marathon and not a sprint as a banal statement, but it is truly a journey and I have appreciated every step!

Note: Now I don’t have to watch the Roy Dean Purple Belt Promotion videos with longing for the day when I reach Purple Belt. — Instead, I can watch the Brown Belt vids. It’s not over! Ouss!!!

Time to switch the style up!

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Check out my other blog: Psychology of Jiu-Jitsu

Before I talk about the training session, first let me gush about my new place.

I finally made it to my new BJJ home last Friday and I made it official. I joined JaxBJJ. I really like this place. I started visiting it last month and was able to try it out for a month at a vastly reduced rate. I didn’t want to sign a contract and then be severely disappointed so I wanted to make sure this was the right place.

It is.

Everyone, I mean everyone, speaks to you when you enter the academy. Further, they go beyond that. They actually start conversations with and want to know about you. (It is really important to me that the environment is a friendly one and that I feel comfortable with the people I train with.) Also, there are belts of all types. I have never seen so many blues, purples and brown belts in one place. Every rolling session is like receiving a private session and people have been very eager to share their knowledge as well as ask questions when I do something they haven’t seen.

No egos.

The professor is friendly and won’t hesitate to demonstrate techniques to improve students game, even to the point of pulling students to the side for 20 minutes or so and reviewing technique with them. Also the place is full of people who have been training 2, 3, 4, and 5 years at JaxBJJ and up to 15+ years with Prof. Shealy. It also has a huge kid’s class, which suggests stability to me and not only does it have a lot of guys and gals in their 20s training but also a lot of guys in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is cool because it means that it is a safe environment and one that doesn’t burn students out.

Anyway, here’s what happened in class.

Usually the morning class is run like a open-mat but this morning Phil led the warm-ups then Prof. led us through some drills on finishing front chokes from the guard. We then sparred from position, trying to obtain a front choke from guard while the other person tried to pass. After drilling we started doing progressions where the time (rounds) is gradually increased as class goes on and when you switch to a new partner you get in the same position the previous person was in. Sometimes it works out great (you end up in mount), sometimes you end up screwed (your partner has your back.)

For the past month or so I have been working on my butterfly guard and trying to improve my defense to side control. As a consequence my guard has been passed, — a lot. Plus, almost everyone I go up against is a blue belt or higher so there isn’t much wiggle room to play. After being outgunned on the bottom so much I started to feel like a scrub. I think I am going to have to re-think my butterfly training for a bit, because ‘it ain’t working.’

Anyway, I still enjoyed class and look forward to heading back again when my schedule lets up.

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on Amazon.com!

Interesting Guidelines to Purple Belt

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Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

I know that many people who read this blog are blue belts or are close to becoming one. I happened to bump into the Alliance’s (in Atlanta) requirements for promotion to Purple Belt yesterday. It is pretty interesting. I always like to quantify what it takes to get to the next level and even though we all train under different guidelines I think this is probably a good tool to use.

ALLIANCE BJJ (Atlanta) – Home of Jacare, Cobrinha and Chris Moriarty (Alliance’s Blog)

Purple Belt Requirements (other belts – click here)

On average, 3 years of training with a minimum of 360 classes plus passing the following test. Belt promotions are always at the discretion of the head instructor. Factors such as above-average class attendance, natural ability, or competing could possibly shortened the time to purple belt, while a poor attitude, bad temper, or a lack of common morality outside the school could lengthen it.

Throws and Takedowns
One leg throw
Four hip throws
Two double legs
Two single leg

Two ways to defend the guillotine standing up
Two ways to defend the headlock standing
One way to defend the headlock on the ground
One way to defend the guillotine on the ground

Passing the Guard
Five different ways to pass the guard and get side control

Two sweeps from the half-guard
Two half-guard passes

Sweeps from the Guard
Five different ways to sweep your opponent

Two ways to escape the mount
One way to escape the side-mount
One way to escape the rear-mount
One way to escape the knee-on-belly

Five from the mount
Two double attacks
Three from the side-mount
Two from the back
Two from knee in the belly
Five from the guard

*These requirements are posted on Alliance’s Website – Links are above.*

Do Dreams Count?

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Last night I had a dream that I was a purple belt. Which is odd because I haven’t been to class in a week. In the dream I had on a white gi (my real gi is blue) and I was tightening up my purple belt while talking to some new guys.

Also all of this was taking place in the middle of an MMA cage. What’s funny is that I had a dream that I was training BJJ the previous night.

Does dreaming count as training? 

I ask mostly in jest, but when I dream about BJJ I feel as if I am really doing it and I am fully conscious (in the dreams).  I once dreamt that I tapped out two random guys by RNC and an arm bar; another where I tapped out GSP with a rear naked choke; and where a guy demonstrated how I could tap out one of my instructors (won’t say which one). He tapped him out within seconds and I was amazed

For those who are long time readers of my blog you know I once had a dream that I was sleeping in a Japanese dojo and suddenly Dana White burst through the door. He told me that I was getting promoted to purple belt and I needed to hurry up and get dressed.  

Regardless, I have to go back and train in my reality soon. I have to admit though that last time I went it was so ridiculously hot. For the past two weeks we have been faced with 90 to 100 degree weather with ‘”feels like” ratings ranging from 103 to 115 degrees. I have been dealing with feelings of sluggishness but I’ll come around.

*I am a blue belt for those new to the blog.