The Blue Belt Challenge

We are familiar with dojo storms and challenge matches, where guys from different martial arts (or guys who have no training at all) come into a BJJ school and challenge the students or the instructor to a match.

Many years ago in a jiu-jitsu school that I used to train at we had a challenge match between two students who had been friends outside of BJJ for a long time.

The story as I relate it here has some names changed to protect the not so innocent, and if it didn’t happen exactly as I tell it here, then this is how it should have happened!

Terry was a blue belt who was one of the most faithful students. Not an athletic specimen by any means, but he was technical and rarely missed a class. He was one of the first blue belts in the club.

George was a white belt who alternated between binge eating and doing Herculean gym workouts. He wasn’t what anyone would call technical, and he was hot and cold in his attendance. George had some weight-room-trained muscle and a “full on” mentality.

George was the “let’s just go easy” guy in the gym who would immediately leap onto the opponent and try to squeeze the head and neck until vertebrae started to pop and the bewildered training partner would tap out.

He would also boast to a few that were listening that since he had tapped a few blue belts with his surprise squeeze move, and said he deserved a blue belt, too. George probably couldn’t demonstrate three technical guard passes and his credo was “power is a technique!” George preferred to train no gi.

Terry tired of debating the point with George, as this had been going on for a while. Fed up with George’s smack talk, he issued a challenge: “Let’s have a jiu-jitsu match in the gi. If you can tap me, you can have my blue belt!” George hemmed and hawed, but everyone sitting around the mat heard the argument and George was put on the spot. Fish or cut bait!

Everyone cleared the mats and the atmosphere was like a fight after school. Within seconds the friendly grappling match escalated in intensity to real fight energy (although no blows were exchanged).

Within 30 seconds Terry got to George’s back standing and jumped up and put the hooks in. Terry’s hand slid deep into the collar choke and started to squeeze.

George’s face turned pink…then red…then purple as he desperately clawed at the tightening collar around his neck. George’s legs lost their ability to hold them up and he collapsed unconscious to the mat with Terry on his back.

Terry released the choke and stood over the woozy and defeated George as fresh, oxygenated blood slowly rebooted his brain.

I don’t recall the exact words, but Terry was not the most gracious winner. He trash talked George and let him know in no certain terms that his jiu-jitsu sucked and he needed to do some real training in the gi. I thought the trash talk was excessive and told Terry to cool it. But Terry said “No way! For all of the Crap that he talked before?” Terry and George had known each other since the days in the schoolyard and this was the latest chapter in their rivalry.

The group disbanded, buzzing and the blue belt stayed around Terry’s waist. To my knowledge, George was so discouraged that he was never seen in the jiu-jitsu school again.



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