Some Thoughts On The Guy Who Got A Blue Belt From Gracie University Online

On May 29th Jiu Jitsu Times posted a video of a very excited gentleman who had just recently received a blue belt from Gracie University. In the video he describes how he recorded himself performing 71 techniques which were then graded. The internet exploded about this, a lot of people have criticized him getting a blue belt without actually rolling.

For starters, I watched the video a couple of times, and while he didn’t mention rolling (which most people who get to blue belt place tremendous importance on), he doesn’t specifically say he never rolled. What he did say was this:

“Some people harshly criticize it, but I love it, it works for me, it’s super convenient to my schedule.”

I’ve seen a lot of people imply that most white belts could beat this guy. And, quite frankly, it would be interesting to see him roll. What I’ll say is this: if his techniques on video look sharp enough for him to receive a high score (96%), then maybe he has drilled them enough to earn that blue belt.

I’ve rolled with blue belts of all levels, including high level guys who compete at IBJJF tournaments to older hobbyists who just do it to stay in shape. Every individual is different. For all anyone knows, this guy is a BAMF who could beat up on world class black belts. Has anyone actually seen him roll?

For all we know, he trains at local schools when has the chance in order to gauge his skills. At no point in the video did he say that he doesn’t (or does) do that. I know that if my schedule were booked, and there were no open mats nearby, I may try the Gracie University thing to hold me over until I could actually train for real.

On the other side of things, chances are this guy is much softer than your average 6 month white belt. Something about the experience of getting pummeled by more experienced students of the game on a daily basis builds character, and this guy has apparently missed out on that part of the experience. There is something cathartic about getting gi burn on your eyelid.

This guy, whoever he is, should go somewhere to roll, videotape it, and post that video online. Given the amount of trash that I’ve seen talked about him, I’m kind of hoping that he’s actually decent. Chances are he’s not.



Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and


  1. You talk a lot of shit about Rener and GU. I find it quite frustrating because some of what you say is accurate, but a lot of it is just ignorant. The technique taught on GU is as solid as ANY school you have ever attended. The lack of rolling definitely leaves gaps in the training, but the foundation is solid. A GU blue belt learns much more quickly once they start rolling then a fresh white belt because they have a library of techniques in their head already. Once they gain a little fluency in the chaos on the mats, they’re solid. I have seen others without that foundation struggle to understand simple technique let alone become fluent enough to apply what they think they know.

    Then there are those that think training online exclusively is enough to become proficient, and that is a problem, BUT those are the same fools that would’ve bought Kung Fu as a legitimate self-defense system.

    I’m a GU blue belt, Emil, come roll with me. I’m in Dayton, too, close enough?

    • Wow much anger. Strong words.

      Reread the article, at no point did I say anything negative about anyone. Just because someone has learning potential doesn’t mean they are entitled to a blue belt. A blue belt should be awarded to someone who has already learned and is already able to apply those techniques they’ve learned on a resisting opponent.

      As for coming to Dayton to roll, sorry man that’s a very long drive for me. I’m in Cleveland. You should come up here sometime though, believe me I will roll with anyone. Or maybe meet me at a tournament, the next one I’m doing is next Saturday in Pittsburgh. Love peace and chicken grease.

      • My comments were not meant to be angry, but there is definitely frustration and annoyance at the bias I read in the articles about the GU curriculum (btw I do enjoy the ones that don’t touch on this topic!). I’m a little surprised you have denied negative comments about the GU curriculum or their students. From what I’m reading, it is pretty obvious how you, and probably many others that do not have experience with online BJJ learning, feel about it:

        “…I may try the Gracie University thing to hold me over until I could actually train for real.”
        – GU is not “real” training. >> Assumes all GU students are not trying to practice the JJ and negative. Then again, there is no definition here for “real training”, so…

        “…Chances are this guy is much softer than your average 6 month white belt.”
        – Someone that learns from GU is soft. >> Complete speculation, undefined, and negative.

        “…I’m kind of hoping that he’s actually decent. Chances are he’s not.”
        – GU students are most likely NOT “decent” at JJ. >> Totally speculative and negative. No evidence, just slanderous words.

        “A blue belt should be awarded to someone who has already learned and is already able to apply those techniques they’ve learned on a resisting opponent.”
        – This GU student is NOT able to do so. >> I disagree because I’ve seen GU blue belts CAN do this. Keep in mind that a resisting opponent is not necessarily a skilled opponent.

        Additionally, in your article “Is Jiu-Jitsu Being Watered Down Or Is It Better Than Ever?”:

        “Are the progeny of Rorion [Gracie] wrong for trying to monetize Jiu Jitsu? Are they selling out the ideals that their grandfather put into place?”
        – This infers that anyone teaching or sharing BJJ for money is “monetizing” the art… And it is obvious you are demonizing this term. All those evil professors out there, taking people’s money to make a living. Shame on them (I’m rolling my eyes here).

        “Although relatively indirect contact with their [Ryron and Rener Gracie] students they assess based on information that may or may not be indicative of the person’s actual level of understanding.”
        – Complete speculation, insinuating promotions are invalid even though you have not experienced the evaluation process. In fact, I will make a friendly wager with you, you would not pass this evaluation without some preparation, most likely significant preparation. This is not a knock on you (nor your technique, nor your school), but it is a very specific curriculum and takes a serious investment of time and energy to learn it to the point of proficiency.

        “Is Gracie University watered down in comparison to the constant pressure that people who train at BJJ academies around the world experience? Yes. No questions asked.”
        – Wow. This is making several inaccurate assumptions and putting them all together into a factual-sounding, negative statement about the quality of instruction on the GU site. Unless, of course, you have some inside definition of “watered down”, meaning if a one doesn’t have “constant pressure” (I’m assuming this means Emil’s version of mat time) one can’t possible learn how to do a BJJ technique. And, of course, all of this is so obvious to you the statement is beyond reproach.

        “Gracie University is an easier path than most of us choose to take…”
        – Speculation and inferring ease (negative). I feel this comment demonstrates you do not value the GU training because you chose another path and it was hard, and I would not argue, your path was both difficult and valid.

        “Are Rener and Ryron tarnishing the legacy of their family? Or are they simply doing what their uncles did for years in order to monetize Jiu Jitsu…?”
        – Those are the options? Really? Once again, the demonized use of “monetize” sounds incriminating. – Very negative connotation here for either choice you allow.

        In “Jiu Jitsu Times Vs. The BJJ Hour: Verbal Grappling Episode 3” you wrote:

        “…people can quite literally clime the ranks entirely online and through the mail.”
        – This is the most inaccurate, negative, and slanderous statement I’ve read on this site. No one develops their BJJ/GJJ without putting in the mat time. No one. You CAN gain a certain level of knowledge, of skill, by drilling, by cooperatively running through attack/defense sequences. But it can only take you so far.

        Let me repeat this, because it seems I haven’t made this point clearly enough, no one can develop their BJJ/GJJ game/skills/ability (whatever you want to call it) without putting in the mat time. And honestly, why would you try? Mat time is my drug of choice! Mat time is where we fine tune our technique, where we learn how to individualize our BJJ. Mat time is what sets BJJ apart from other MAs. Mat time is where we learn who our training partners really are. Mat time is where we forge BJJ brothers in sweat and blood.

        One more thing, before I sink back into the anonymous masses; my invitation to roll was not because I feel I am a BAMF, it wasn’t even because I think I am more skilled than you (or anyone I do not know). I’m not one to try and destroy ANYONE on the mat or even risk injury to prove a point (hell, I have to go to work tomorrow, too!). I invite you to see/feel my game, to see how I developed by using GU to learn foundational JJ and then learning the best I could in semi-isolation. I make the invite because I am confident in my fundamentals. I credit that to the detailed instruction on GU and the time I spent on the mat to own the tech I learned. The invitation is a standing one, and if I get up your way anytime soon, I’ll ping you, too.


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