Should Toolish Behavior Delay Promotion to Blue Belt?
There is often a morality clause before promotion to black belt. It is a common statement, “I won’t give a black belt to someone with poor moral character.” It makes sense. That individual as a black belt will be forever tied to the person promoting him. In Jiu Jitsu there are few things as sacred as lineage. It is an indictment on the person doing the promotion, the school and the lineage. No one wants to teach a criminal how to efficiently kill and dismember people.
For promotion to blue belt there is no such morality requirement. Criteria for promotion vary by school. Some schools have fundamental knowledge of leg locks on the curriculum. Others have a more traditional curriculum. Perhaps it is tacitly understood but rarely is a no tool clause verbally advocated. I would advocate a no tool clause for promotion to blue belt be verbally advocated.
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In my opinion, there are several definitions of unacceptable behavior that should invoke the no tool clause and delay promotion to blue belt. The first one is probably most obvious; being a spazzy roller. Being able to calmly execute technique without spazzing out is a key component. While this behavior is common at white belt, it is the hallmark of a tool at another belt. Second, bragging about who you have rolled with or submitted is also in poor form. Such behavior may be acceptable when promoting a professional fight. Yet, the training room is a sacred place. What happens in the training room should stay in the training room. A component of growth is the ability to get repetitions in new techniques. That will be stifled without the trust and confidence of training partners. Also, it takes a maturity to realize someone may have given up a position so they can practice a defense. Third, asking for a promotion is always poor taste. However, it should be noted, asking for feedback on performance should be always acceptable. Fourth, coaching a person once they have a submission locked on is in extremely poor taste as well. There is a big difference between someone giving up position so they can either practice their escapes or help you out in getting reps and someone who got caught and tries to play it off. It is the Jiu Jitsu equivalent of the male comb over. The subterfuge is obvious to everyone and reflects poorly on the one executing it. Fifth is closely related to fourth. Making excuses about getting caught is also congruent with a tool. Getting caught in a move is good. It expands your game. You definitely get the best reps with a lower belt but getting caught in techniques always poses interesting questions. Sixth, harassing your female training partners may be the biggest sin found on the mats. Don’t do it!
By no means am I suggesting that bad behavior is rampant on the mats. I know I am blessed with exceptional training partners. I cannot say enough good things about them. The point of this article is simply to point out the obvious. The listed behavior is at best the domain of the novice and worst that of a tool. It is a poor reflection on any experienced Jiu Jitsu practitioner. It has not place on the mats. Perhaps it has been tacitly understood in the past. However it should also be verbally advocated that this behavior should delay the promotion to blue belt.
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