A Reader Question: “Should I turn down a belt promotion?”

“Love reading your articles!!!
Prolly one of the best Jiu-jitsu pages on FB!!
I was wondering if you could put together an article on the possibility of turning down a promotion??

Example: I came from a strong gym where belt promotions where held at a very high expectation, wasn’t a matter of how much time spent or even how well some of your tournaments went.
It was based on when you’re ready.. You’re ready.
And the coach was very good at knowing that standard…. We had no stripe system it was just belt rank.. One of the most friendly, easygoing and funny group of guys but absolute trained killers and our results and team trophies showed that around the local tourneys.

Anyway. Life happens and people move. So moving as a blue belt and entering a new gym.. Maybe one that is still legit but may not have the same expectations or on the same level of the last one you came from.
So you get your blue belt from a tough gym.
You move, show up at new gym “as a newish blue belt”.
But are doing extremely well in that new gym, even with some of the higher belts.
So instructor wants to promote you to purple.
Even though you are maybe a 4 month in blue???
Definitely don’t feel comfy as a purple knowing what all is out there.
Should you talk to your instructors about this? While of course remaining RESPECTFUL?
I’d like to read what your thoughts and the thoughts of others are about this?”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Thanks for the good words! We do our best at Jiu-jitsu Times to build the bjj community.

Regarding turning down a belt promotion this is a surprisingly common feeling.
Secretly, MANY people feel that they are not deserving of their belt promotion and feel like a fraud.

It is of course all in their minds and in the vast majority of cases, the promotion is well deserved and the student should wear their new belt with pride.

Some competition oriented schools are very slow on promotions and part of the reason is that they want to have more tournament medals.
Promotions are withheld to allow students to compete longer at a belt level and win more gold.
The head instructor may place a very strong emphasis on competition and take pride in having a room full of sharks.
That is all fine.

But let us not forget that jiu-jitsu is MORE than just tournament medals and kicking ass.
Jiu-jitsu is also about your technical knowledge, your regular attendance at the classes, improving yourself overall and helping new students.

Your situation is the opposite of some I have seen: a new blue belt comes in from a smaller school and gets destroyed by the hungry white belts at a competitive school!
They feel like taking off their blue belt and starting all over.

There are also 2 different types of students:
1) The young competitors
2) The recreational students

read also: A Reader Question: Is it too soon for a three stripe white belt to be trying to learn spiderguard?

Should an older recreational student never be allowed to graduate to purple belt because he gets dominated by a 22 year old competitive blue belt?
Of course not! If the student has the technical knowledge, they deserve the belt.
There are different standards for the recreational / 2 times per week guy and the next Mundials hopeful.

It sounds like your new black belt instructor sees that your technical ability is up a sufficient level that you deserve to wear the next belt.
I say respect the new instructor and graciously accept the belt.
Work to raise your jiu-jitsu to the standards you expect from yourself and be proud of the belt.

Don’t put too much emphasis on a belt color.
You will encounter some people at whatever your belt level is that you are better than and some that are better than you.


  1. não aceite. pois você pode mudar de academia novamente e não se sentir confortável na nova faixa. Converse educadamente com o instrutor e peça mais tempo na faixa azul.


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