Some thoughts on blue belts who write about jiu jitsu, by a blue belt who writes about jiu jitsu…

I can’t believe I’m actually writing a post about this.

Oh well, here it goes.

Today on Facebook, I saw two people who I hold in high regard make posts expressing frustration with the recent trend of blue belts writing for prominent blogs.  This got me thinking a bit and I wanted to share my thoughts, being that I’m a blue belt who writes for prominent blogs and publications.

If you look at the concentration of people in the jiu-jitsu community, the largest numbers are at white and blue belt.  The reason for this is that a lot of people quit at those belts; therefore, you’re going to have the largest cross section of our population at those ranks.

But are their perspectives worthwhile?

Sometimes.  Only sometimes.

You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to describe what the nighttime sky looks like to the average person.  You don’t have to be a doctor to tell people what it feels like to be sick.  I’ve seen high level mathematicians and physicists on college campuses who couldn’t communicate their knowledge half as well as their lesser colleagues.  The ability to express something in words doesn’t necessarily rely on real-world experience and knowledge.

A lot of information on the internet is absolute garbage, and no one can stop that information from being put out there.  I’ve watched dozens of instructional videos that made me cringe, and have read posts – sometimes right here on the Jiu Jitsu Times – that I thought were highly questionable.

Not everyone is cut from the same cloth; some people are able to verbalize their observations much better than others.  And sometimes, those who can teach can’t necessarily do, and those who can do can’t necessarily teach.

I train at the premier MMA gym in my region, and one of our main no-gi instructors is #justabluebelt because he’s a phenomenal teacher and a lifelong grappler.

That’s right; some blue belts have been grappling for a LONG time.  Some white belts have been grappling for a LONG time.

What rank does Fedor Emelianenko hold?

Or Rumina Sato, one of the first, if not the first, non-jiu-jitsu guys to submit a jiu-jitsu black belt in MMA . . .

. . . but wait, Sato is #justabluebelt!

Very often when reading the comments on my articles, I see people comment that because I am #justabluebelt, I should not be writing these articles; I should not be expressing my views and opinions.  When I then challenge the individuals to find fault in the articles on which they’ve commented, very often they fail to provide any such examples.

Recently, I read a comment on one of my articles in which someone asked what the credentials are to be a Jiu-Jitsu Times writer. My answer to him was that, while I am uncertain about the credentials, mine are pretty straightforward:

  1. A bachelor’s degree in English and Rhetoric
  2. Training martial arts since 1993, Brazilian jiu-jitsu off and on since 1999
  3. Extensive competition experience within the past several years

I can’t speak for other writers and I’m sure that many are differently qualified.

The complaints of the two gentlemen mentioned above are very likely valid. I see my colleagues in the writing community put out large volumes of trash, and many people – white through black belt – have no business writing.

But some of us have credentials that our belt color may not reflect.  Some of us are experienced writers who want to give back to the art that has given us so much.

If you are reading this and it upsets you, why?  Because a blue belt wrote it?  Well if you take issue with what I’ve written here, by all means express it in the comments section. Or better yet, reach out to Jiu-Jitsu Times and start writing for us.

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


  1. Emil,

    Good article and to the point. If you look at some of the most respected sports writters in the U.S. you will find that some either never played a sport or just were not good at all. The ability to write about a topic does not only come from being good at it or even by a particular belt rank but by the passion the written and correctness of the article.

  2. I’m also a blue belt and I have no problems expressing my opinions no problems with lower ranks expressing opinions. But, at the same time I understand the sentiment of lower ranks staying quiet and falling into line. Traditional martial artists believe that until you have mastered a skill than you should not be able to speak about it. Your opinion is not valid but, this is a new generation , a louder more outspoken generation and for the most part better informed than those of the past. The biggest problem is martial artists of lower belt rank coming online and talking shit , running their mouths about this and that. It is considered disrespect. Btw I know which article that you were referring to (I will not mention the black belt who wrote it since I hold him in the highest regard and would never want him to think I disrespected him) and yes it was tough to read and not feel like he was referring to myself and others like me.

  3. I am an old guy, starting training at age 11, and picked up BJJ in 96.

    I “took issue” with your Butt Scoot article, because while well written, and if I recall correctly (I am old, I tend to forget) was supposed to be framed as an article where you attempted to be objective. It was more of an article in defense of, or acting of a proponent of butt scooting as a viable portion of our art. And I suppose it is, to a degree; however my bias is strongly against that in my old opinion on sells the art short, and is a lazy approach to BJJ.

    That said, BJJ is an art, not a system; so as with all art, it is open to interpretation. Coming full circle, your article was intended to be objective, but was actually in defense of that which you were trying to be objective about. By no means am I saying you’re wrong mind. However, I do see that as a well written article that lacks the “nuance” or experience of someone more senior. That still does not make you wrong, nor is it my contention to tell you that you are wrong.

    My personal comments are that pulling guard, and butt scoot is ugly, lazy Jiu-Jitsu. I feel that it ignores an entire portion of our art that is so often left out of even the best, most well known academies that we have. There is a massive body of work for BJJ while standing up.

    And that leads me to my second comment on another one of your articles that speaks to experience and nuance. It was in the article that you were talking about BJJ as an art of self defense. I was shocked at what I read, and it seems like there were glaring omissions in your training, where you seemed to not be aware of an entire body of things that should be taught for stand up BJJ, but are not. And I simply knock that up to inexperience. Not right or wrong, just inexperienced.

    I’m a Muay Thai since 93, when in my first NHB (what it was called back then), my black belt having, in the Army bad ass got totally tooled by a Muay Thai guy. Started training with him two weeks later. THen hooked into BJJ in 96, and fortunate enough to have a red/black belt live with me for a number of years. While at the same time, working Kali/Silat. I found all that I felt that I could possibly ever need. But even after 35 years in, I’m still learning that I’m still learning.

    • Hello Brian, thank you for you detailed and insightful comments.

      To reply to your issues with my articles:

      Buttscooting is a means to an end for competitors. Competitions are rigged to favor them, therefore they have a method to their madness which was the point of that article.
      I agree that it’s not ideal and would welcome changes to competition structure.

      Secondly insofar as self defense:
      I trained for self defense for a long time at which point I realized that most self defense systems can’t and don’t address multiple attackers or armed attackers. Train Bjj all day every day and you still won’t be ready for those scenarios.

      Thank you!


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