BJJ Poll: Now That So Many People Have Attained the Rank of Black Belt in BJJ, How Do You Think the Average BJJ Black Belt Today Compares to Those From Years Past?

by Caleb on October 1, 2011

Guess who is back in action? Our most frequent contributor to Brazilian jiu-jitsu poll questions here on The FightWorks Podcast, Ross! He’s one of the Mighty 600,000 from Northern California and has a supernatural gift for coming up with thought-provoking questions for you!

Ross’ poll suggestion today makes you consider the average BJJ black belt of today compared to those of the past. It’s a tricky question, with rather important implications. What do you think? Let us know by voting and we welcome your comments here as well!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Romeo October 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I wish there was an option between 2 and 3. A current day black belt will of course than the black belts of the past from a competitive and athletic standpoint. However, a black belt will never be than his/her coach. Michael Langhi admits cobrinha passes his guard and taps him all the time if he’s(he being cobrinha) really trying. You will never better than your coach from a technical standpoint, so how can really be better than black belts from past when there are black belts that came before your coach that are better than your coach? Now the question becomes can you be better than your coach technically? The answer is yes but only positionally. That’s why Felipe Costa took the time to learn the 50/50 guard from Ryan Hall remember Felipe awarded Ryan his black belt and now Felipe uses 50/50 guard in competition. Long explaination but the point is this question is answered everytime you roll with your coach.

bjjwarrior October 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

It’s a poll speaking to the natural pattern of growth within anything, esspecially martial arts. More practitioners with come to more black belts which will come to more systems of training which will create some great ones, and some bad ones, and everything between. Becasue of all the systems and styles of training and schools and instructors you’re bound to have a few black belts that just aren’t as good as others. The fact that ‘the past’ black belts might be a higher standard is because you HAD to be able to hang with all the other black belts. Now, you can be a black belt and never be tested against 98% of the other black belts.

Having said all of that, the creativity amongst many black belts in today’s BJJ could be what disrupts the entire question.

I’m very intersted to see how this poll ends up.

Hawaiian October 3, 2011 at 12:16 am

I think a better question would have been do you think Black Belts today are better competatively or are they better coaches then yesterday. I love to see the top black belts compete but in the gym I really want a black belt that can teach. Great Champions don’t always make great teachers. And then with BJJ you also have a code of ethics. Respect, honor, live a clean life, ect. How do you balance this with a black belt who does steroids (yeah we can tell) or does not take the podium because he thought the ref called the match wrong and he did not take gold.

slideyfoot October 3, 2011 at 3:21 am

I was tempted to tick the last option, but didn’t want to cop out. So, I went with the third option, that the top level is better but the average black belt probably isn’t as good. My reasoning is that there are now so many more black belts that it must be harder to keep up the quality control, particularly as unlike the past they’re spread out around the world.

However, I have two problems, which is why I was going to tick the fourth option. First, I’m just a noob purple belt who doesn’t compete, so what do I know. Second, I wasn’t around in ‘the past’, which is a tough period to pin down (are we thinking 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 50 years ago?). It is easy to assume that older = better, because people normally romanticise the past. Perhaps standards were in fact laxer back then, as there weren’t so many competitions? The Mundials only kicked off in 1996, after all.

Also, I’d disagree you can’t become more technically adept than your teacher (although I might have misread the argument). Otherwise, Carlos Jr would have to be the greatest competitor ever, which he clearly wasn’t. Nevertheless, he’s produced arguably the greatest competitor, Roger Gracie, along with a ton of other super-high level black belts. Roger and all the other GB black belts must have built considerably upon what they learned from Carlinhos, in terms of optimum application if nothing else.

John October 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Cars are faster, handle corners better, break harder today than before, same type of deal with computers. Athletes can perform better in every sport today than in the past. Yes there were masters in the past who were pioneers and we will never forget what they have done for us in the passing of technique and the examples they set for us in other areas, but there are masters today as well and in general, the art has progressed. I wouldn’t put my house on it, but I would put a good chunk of money on the bet that if you got 100 random old school black belts and 100 new school black belts and had them 1. fight, 2. compete, and 3. test their technical knowledge and ability, the new school black belts would come out on top by a significant margin.

As far as becoming better than your coach, I think that happens regularly by the most dedicated/talented/elite and it’s the coaches goal to help that become true. At some point, the apprentice becomes the masterrrrrrrr…..

christopher October 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

I’m not sure if todays BB’s understand the BJJ as self defense as the older BB’s. A lot of the BB’s are so sport oriented, they kina miss the point (or at least what Helio had in mind)

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