BJJ Belts Part 2: Sandbagging

I’ve written a couple articles about belts and promotions.  On every one I have posted, there have been comments on the articles either about how belts are stupid or “I’ve been a white belt for 4 years.” With that being said, I’d like to discuss another issue most of us are well aware of….Sandbagging!  If you don’t know, this is where someone practices Jiu Jitsu strictly for medals and are afraid to face people that might beat them. To achieve this goal, the fighter will remain a white or blue belt for way longer than they should, just to have an edge on the competition.  This is completely unethical and unfair in many ways!

Competition is an event that is put together to test the skill set of certain ranks, schools, and weight classes.  It is set this way so there is an equal opportunity between both competitors.  So when you get a 5 year white belt competing against a 6 month to a year white belt, the odds aren’t to good for the new guy!  This can sometimes push people away from competing or even the sport just because of how bad they get dominated!

Who is to blame on this? Well first  and foremost, if your school doesn’t do belts or believe in rank then you probably shouldn’t compete in an actual Jiu Jitsu tournament!  If you do want to compete, then your instructor should give an accurate assessment to where you would technically stand.  If you’ve been training for 4 years, odds are you should at least compete as a blue belt.  I’m not counting the once a month jiujitiero, I’m referring to the guys who train 5 and 6 times a week, twice a day in full competition mindset!  If you’ve never competed and you want to see where you stand, fine, just be honest with the tournament people.  They may place you in a white or blue belt bracket, that’s their call.

Let’s be honest, if you are competing to find out if you are the best, then you need to compete with the best with the same amount of training!  You are hurting our sport and our future competitors!  If you still insist on fighting way below your skill set just to collect medals, then you are a coward!  You seem to be too afraid to face anyone that might beat you!  You will get caught up one day. About the time you think you are the best, you will be smashed!!

If you don’t compete, then who gives a crap what belt you are!  If you “refuse” being promoted because you just don’t want that extra stress, then you are disrespecting your professor!  You might think belts are dumb or just fabric,
but most of us respect our belts.  The bottom line here is this….don’t be a cheater!  If you have been a lower belt dominating the mats, be honest, ask to compete in the next bracket up.  Odds are they will let you! This is our sport, passion, and for some, our whole lives.  Give Jiu Jitsu and it’s people the respect it deserves!  Roll Safe and be fair!! Oss!!


  1. Students don’t have a choice in their belt rank. Instructors should promote on the basis of that student’s potential, effort, progress, etc …. If you compete at a higher level, you can’t go back down at another tournament. Just be patient and abide with your instructor’s judgement. Sounds like someone got a little butthurt at a tournament this weekend. Success at tournaments isn’t an absolute metric of worth or ability. If you got beaten by a salty whatever-belt, just chalk it up as a learning experience.

  2. Well,sometimes a school or academy will sandbag student,if you are a black belt in Judo,or Japanese jiu jitsu or even a free style wrestler,some Bjj tournaments won’t let you compete in the white belt division,even though you may be wearing a white belt,so after two years the instructors should decide to put you in a blue belt division.

  3. If a whitebelt looks over qualified and dominates everyone in competition then they look like a total douchebag. If a white belt competes in the blue belt division and holds their own, they look like a pimp. You don’t look cool dominating everyone unless you are a black belt.


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