Open Letter to BJJ Black Belts and Academy Owners from James “300” Foster

Coach Foster Teaching at a Charity Seminar at Adamson Bros BJJ in Seaside Oregon. Photo Courtesy of Caryn Brooks.

Third degree Lotus Club black belt under Giva Santana, James “300” Foster has a message for his peers.  Check out this Open Letter to the jiu jitsu community regarding his thoughts on the importance of always learning and helping expand the growth of jiu jitsu.

To the Jiu Jitsu Community:

On Sunday, March 1st,  a few of my students and I will be driving over three hours to attend a seminar taught by Rafael Lovato Jr. That’s a relatively short journey to learn from one of the art’s top Black belts and one the most decorated American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors of all time. To say I’m excited would be a great understatement! I’ve always made an effort to continue my growth through participation in seminars whenever possible.

What may surprise you is that many Black belts, academy leaders, and practitioners of our art do not take advantage of these great opportunities as often you would think. It’s all part of a disturbing trend (one of many actually) I continue to see in our ever growing sport. I’ve even seen pictures from seminars taught by the legends of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in which they only had 5, 12, or at most 17 people in attendance. This begs the question, why?

All cliche excuses aside this stems from a few key issues I’ll touch on briefly, although they are all fairly self explanatory.

1. Black belt ego

Sadly some Black belts become closed off to learning from outside sources, especially if they run their own academies. To some extent I think this occurs because they do not want to appear uneducated to their students. In some extreme cases I’ve even seen them grow apart from their own instructors, not making an effort to attend classes like the non Black belt students.

2. Politics

Often seminars aren’t supported due to restraints that are put in place by academy instructors or the association they’re under. Meaning, they are not allowed to attend because the event is being put on by a “rival” school.

3. Poor advertising

The hard truth is most academy owners do not understand how to properly host a seminar. This has a huge impact on the turnout and success of the event as a whole.

So, what can you do about it? If you’re a Black belt I encourage you to realize your continued growth is incredibly important not only for you, but for your students who learn from you. It’s important to maintain an open mind if your pursuit, is as it should be, a complete mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I also encourage you to allow your students the same room for growth, and to realize you’re hindering your team on many levels by not allowing them to learn from sources outside of your affiliation.

If you’re a school owner who plans on hosting a seminar I suggest you study what academies who’re hosting successful events are doing differently then you are, again be open to learning from your mistakes and from the successes of others. The moral of the story is for everyone to be open to the overall growth of themselves, their students, and our sport!

Thank you.

Coach James “300” Foster


Thank you Coach Foster for sharing your Open Letter with Jiu Jitsu Times!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here