Rickson Gracie Convinces Rener to Stop Online Blue Belt Promotions; Threatens to Call Him a “Charlatan”

In an interview with Tatame (in Portuguese), Rickson Gracie claimed it was him who convinced his nephew, Rener Gracie, to stop promoting blue belts online at his controversial cyber Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, Gracie University:

It’s absurd. There can be no online belt promotion. After I read an article on Rener Gracie talking about Gracie University, saying that he promoted online students to blue belt, I had a confrontation with him. I said that if he continued to do this, I would denigrate his image, saying that he was a charlatan. And after that, he reconsidered, and thought that the idea did not make sense anymore. The blue belt is the most important Jiu-Jitsu. White to blue, it is the stage of enlightenment. The blue belt needs to be a confident guy that is a tough guy that can handle an aggression. And for that, he can not get a belt over the Internet.”

Since 2014, students have only been able to earn a “technical blue belt” via online learning.  Those who wish for the official blue belt must pass a hands-on evaluation with Rener, Ryron, or an authorized Gracie Academy representative. 


  1. Rickson is 100% correct. As much as I respect Rener it does seem like its just about money more than anything else to him. I know he is ambitious and has a lot of ideas to grow his business etc, but giving out belts over the Internet is actually dangerous because those guys who buy the belts are living within a false sense of security. This online belt silliness is one of the things taking away the effectiveness of BJJ in a real situation. It’s watering it down, and I know Rickson and many other people, including myself, hate that.

  2. There is that term again, “watering it down”. This implies the technique is diluted, or not as strong or thorough as the technique learned at a traditional school. As a GU student, I learned many fundamental BJJ techniques through the site. The lesson are taught by Helio’s direct line grandsons. How is it watered down? Do you think they are holding back part of the technique? That would be a form of watering down, but have you watched any of the lessons?

    Believe me, it takes about 30 seconds on the mat with a higher belt for a new blue belt from GU to realized they have a lot to learn. I “owned” the techs I learned on GU only after taking them to the mats and gaining fluency in their application. The value of learning GU’s online curriculum is that it provides a solid foundation from which to build the fluency one needs to be effective on the mats and in real life situations.

    Inferring Rener is “just about the money” is just silly. Maybe its true, maybe its not, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of the product he is “selling”. I can see why you would feel this way, but I think it is because you are ignorant to what the GU lessons actually provide. I tell every white belt that asks me, “how can I get better faster?” – Take the GU Combatives course! No better way to watch and review (at naseum) highly-detailed lessons of fundamental JJ techniques, and that is EXACTLY what white belts need.

  3. Schools lack detail. GU lacks pressure and real life sparring / rolling.
    GU has so much detail. Schools have so much real life rolling.
    Combine the two and you’re set.
    If you did GU first, got your technical blue belt, (kept that to yourself) and signed up as a white belt at a school, you’d fly through to blue belt within a year or so anyway.

  4. I attended a Gracie JJ school and it’s too expensive. I was paying $239 a month and to get your blue belt it will cost $300 for your blue belt test. If you fail your blue belt test, the re-test fee is another $300. Gracie JJ students do not compete in tournaments because according to Rener Gracie what they teach is street/ self defense jujitsu. I left the school and now study under a Ribeiro JJ black belt and I will say the training is real and a lot more technical. Furthermore, no fees to get your blue belt promotion or any other advance belt. Training fees were extremely reasonable compared to Gracie JJ training car payment fees.

    • Not sure how the prices you state are so high, even at the Gracie HQ learning straight from Rener and Ryron the prices are lower than what you stated. For the blue belt test, the price was $20 higher than a private lesson with a brown belt, which I just assumed covered admin processing cost and the orice of the belt itself, so the prices have seemed reasonable to me.

  5. I find it funny how people post and show how uninformed they are about GU. It looks like many people assume GU students grab popcorn and watch GU videos and call it a win. The first thing you are told is to find a training partner to work with. Sure, its not the same as being in an academy and tapping to higher belts, but its primary target is for people that do not have easy access to an academy. Being in the military and moving around a lot, I have been in multiple places that didnt have a BJJ school. The videos have great detail, and I highly recommend them even for people that go to a traditional school. Give GU credit for how well it addresses its target problem and please hold off on bashing it until you have checked it out. Feel free to bash GU once you have tries it, but if you havent, then you really sound just as bad as all the pseudoscience nuts.

  6. I am a GU student, I also roll with a local club. I have also earned my OFFICIAL (not technical, I tested in person) GJJ blue belt. The way I see it, its comparing apples and oranges. GJJ blue belt is self-defense against an unknowledgeable opponent, only through the Master Cycle will they address knowledgeable players. Sport BJJ is against, well, other players and unknowledgeable (if necessary). As a white belt (beginner) I trained with GU because there wasn’t a local club to roll with, so this was the only way for me to immerse myself in BJJ, however, I made certain my partner gave me real resistance. Yes this video testing can be problematic as you can belt up just by “teaching the test” and helping each other along with little to no resistance, but in doing so you are doing an injustice to yourself (It would be dishonoring the art). The use of a Technical Blue Belt is just a way of saying, “Ok, we know he knows the technique, but we can’t prove his physical effectiveness.” Can you imagine if College works the way everyone in the BJJ community thinks about online testing? You will only get your college degree if you actually apply your knowledge in person to prove you know what you are talking about. Anyway, when I started rolling with the local club I didn’t wear my GJJ Blue Belt, because what I was taught is COMPLETELY different than what they were training. I walked in wearing my GJJ white belt, and started learning. Granted there were similar techniques between the two. For instance, in the club we learned side mount hip escapes, which are GJJ shrimp escapes. Also, doing elevator sweeps, GJJ elevator sweeps and the elevator sweeps we do in class are similar in regards to the theory of lifting a leg and chopping the base leg, but getting to that point is different. All I did was just tweak the elevator sweep I learned from GU and applied it in class, everyone thought I was a quick learner. (No, they don’t know I am GJJ Blue Belt yet, although the instructor can tell I have had some kind of training). Something else I want to point out is closed guard passing, my club teaches a sitting variation and a standing variation, but GU teaches you to punch or hammer fist your opponents face to get them to open their guard (obviously I am not going to do that in class). I am noticing that the club here mainly teaches white belts escapes, rolls, and passes so we can defend ourselves in a tournament. GU teaches white belts to defend themselves by keeping safe distance and punch protection so we can defend ourselves in a street fight. The way I see it is, it doesn’t matter where you learn it from as long as it works. This is just more tools in my toolbox.

  7. The only thing that I find it funny is the guy who his own father called him a charlatan threatening to call someone else a charlatan


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