BJJ Students Promote Teacher To Red And Black Belt? Should This Be Happening?

Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu / Facebook

Students at the Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have ignored a long standing rule in BJJ which prohibits practitioners from promoting people to belts higher than theirs.

The students promoted their chief instructor, Todd Nathanson, to red-and-black coral belt — i.e., seventh degree black belt.

The following picture was sent to us by a reader. It was taken less than a day before the time of this writing, and clearly shows Professor Todd being promoted by a black belt.


According to his biography on the Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu page linked above, Professor Nathanson trained under Jean Jacques Machado and received a third-degree black belt under him.  He did not, however, list which instructor he got his fourth, fifth, and sixth degree black belt under, something most instructors would proudly post on their pages.

The reader also sent us screenshots from Renato Magno, Professor Jean-Jacques Machado’s first black belt, criticizing Professor Nathanson:

If students at the Academy of Braziian Jiu-Jitsu believe we have slandered or have in anyway been unfair to their instructor, then we are more than willing to listen to their story. You can PM the Jiu-Jitsu Times with your complaints.

However, the evidence looks fairly damning: a student is promoting his instructor to a rank higher than his, and that shouldn’t happen in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.



  1. Same thing happened in the karate community decades ago.
    Now everyone’s a black belt or grandmaster.
    I wish people were more interested in acquiring skill rather than belts.
    Sometimes I think the belt system is the worse thing to ever happen to the martial arts.

  2. I’m a white belt and I know and wouldn’t accept any promotion from nor count valid any promotion from anyone other than my professor Jeff Messina bjj revolution. They’ve lost their integrity and with it their honor. They have nothing left to do but say their sorry and stop what their doing.


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