Remember To Be A Gracious Teammate If You Don’t Get The Belt Promotion You Were Expecting

Promotion day at Evolve MMA is always exciting!

Regardless of what religion you practice (if any), I think we can all agree that the most anticipated event of the holiday season is annual BJJ belt promotion time. While not all academies set a designated time of the year to promote students with stripes and new belts, many do, and the result can be an exciting — and, yes, slightly stressful — day to look forward to in the gym.

Of course, not everyone gets the promotion they hope for on this big day, and if you were expecting another stripe or a whole ‘nother belt, it’s understandable that you’d feel disappointed. It’s fine to experience whatever emotions you have when you get passed up for a promotion. Remember, however, that if you’re not one of the people getting ranked up, this day isn’t about you, and you need to accept that.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: Now is not the time to openly sulk. No matter how much you think you deserved a promotion that you didn’t get, you need to put on a smile, clap for your teammates, and process your emotions however you see fit when you’re at home. You should absolutely not make passive-aggressive comments to or about your newly promoted teammates about how ‘worthy’ you perceive them to be of their new rank. Unless you’re the coach who’s promoting them, that’s not your job, and no matter how much you disagree, you need to keep your mouth shut and be happy for your training partners.

If you aren’t sure why you got passed up for a promotion this time around, let the dust settle and then ask your coach what they’d like to see you working on. Belts and stripes are just symbols of progress, after all, and as nice as it is to receive them, you’ll advance further on the mats if you have goals in mind. Try to take the focus off the fabric around your waist and place it instead on what you need to be a better practitioner, teammate, and competitor. Some coaches place heavy emphasis on competition, while others value contributions to the gym (such as going out of your way to help teammates), and others still place class attendance above all else. The more you understand what your coach is looking for, the better able you’ll be to manage those expectations the next time grading comes around.

While we all know that belts and stripes aren’t the reasons we do jiu-jitsu, it’s fine to be excited about receiving them and bummed out when you don’t. Progress in virtually everything in our lives, from video games to our careers to our commute home, is marked by milestones, and a bit of jealousy is to be expected when someone else hits a milestone and you don’t. Put your negative feelings in a separate container from the good ones, though, and show your teammates the love and support they deserve. It’ll be your turn soon enough.


  1. Belts are funny.
    Those who are really, really good ( the 0,0001%) get promoted really young because they are better than most blackbelts at already at blue. They also make more training hours in a year than hardcore hobbyists make in 4 years.
    Those who are really good (the 0,1%) get promoted quite late, because that’s what they wish for to be able to succeed at colored belts in international competition. World class purple belts will beat any blackbelt who is not a high level active competitor.
    The average people may get promoted quicker than many the really good competitors, because they are after belts, not medals. At least if you compare training hours instead of training years. Training 2 years 3 times a week is not the same as doing it 9 times a week.
    And then there are some people who need to get the promotion regardless their skill, just for they showed up 5 years as bluebelts. Which is fine.
    Belts are good motivators for hobbyists but they don’t work perfectly for competitors. For competition you should be a blackbelt for local comps and a purple for international level at the same time. Either of the belts is wrong for one or another. Age classes or getting up levels by rankings would serve the aspiring competitors better.


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