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BJJGround Forum >> Black Belts and Morality


8/7/14 12:47 AM
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graciesrule
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Tap21 - 
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I still haven't really settled that in my mind.. I do think there needs to be some kind of moral component within the bjj world itself. 

I don't think that topic even needed to be approached in the thread on Justin Tabor. There are components outside the moral scope that have nothing to do with your personal ability to compete on the mat. Understanding of the philosophy of bjj. General depth of understanding of position and moves outside of your game. The type of understanding that can break down and give constructive feedback on unfamiliar scenarios.... etc.  

Justin posting a vid of him dropping for a heel hook  in sub only format as some kind of proof of BB level bjj just so completely missed the point.


What is the moral component? The pure waters of the Gracie brothers? The Barra/IBJJF? I'm curious as to your thoughts on this because reading your other posts on various threads, you seem to think these things out in depth and I find it interesting.

I got into bjj because it was not the normal hocus pocus indestructible kung fu / karate paradigm, where the master was a mythical beast tinged with bs fake buddhist drivel. Bjj was about being on the mat and rolling; testing and trying to see the efficacy of the art. None of this Osu, bowing crap. That's what made/makes bjj a better art, the constant 'sparring' , testing and refining. The lack of rigid formalities and instructor worship (which has changed for the worst).The emphasis on points and sport are slow changing the art, one can argue whether it's good or bad, but the constant rolling is still there and the evolution of bjj is constant and moving.

This.

Jiu-jitsu has gone from a lack of rigid formalities and instructor worship with a focus on actual grappling to Osu/bowing/photos of dead guys on walls.

Now people are citing the black belt as a morality indicator?

Meanwhile, we go back just a couple of generations to the founders of BJJ and we have these stories:

Carlos: "Carlos convinced his best friend and longtime business associate Oscar Santa Maria that he (Carlos) channelled a Peruvian spirit who gave him advice, and that spirit told Carlos to have a baby with his friend's wife. He convinced his friend to allow it and impregnated her." (http://cdn.forums.sherdog.com/forums/f12/rickson-gracie-faq-1062118/index10.html)

Helio: "Hélio Gracie had been married to Margarida for fifty years. During their marriage, Gracie became the father of three sons (Rickson, Rorion, and Relson) with Isabel 'Belinha' Soares and four sons (Royler, Rolker, Royce, Robin), two daughters (Rerika and Ricci) with Vera." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A9lio_Gracie)


George/Helio/Carlos: "Apparently Carlos didn't believe enough in his own jiu-jitsu skills to challenge Rufino to a rematch in the ring. Instead he gathered three of his brothers, and some supporters, borrowed a car, and waited for Rufino outside of the Tijuca Tenis Clube (where Rufino taught and where until recently the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship was held). They then ambushed him. Bystanders tried to intervene but Carlos kept them back while George and Helio (according to police and eye-witness reports) beat Rufino with a steel 'box.'" (http://www.global-training-report.com/reyla_rev_chp11.htm)





This,

In addition to never getting rank in Judo or Jiu jitsu yet promoting themselves to 10 th degree's and handing out Black belts and certificates. At least the white belt, blue belt, Navy belt was unique and was there own rather than change in 1967 and follow judos rank system. They could be blue belts and navy belts and still kick everyone's ass.
8/7/14 1:54 AM
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Robobear
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shen - 
UGCTT_Fillthy - If you think BJJ is a combat sport, then a black belt probably doesn't mean anything beyond 'really good grappler' (ie Lloyd Irvin)

If you think BJJ is a martial art, then a black belt speaks more to the overall quality of the person (ie Rickson Gracie)

I don't think either is right or wrong, but personally, I side with Shen on this one.

 

Exactly.

 

Whether one likes it or not, there is no debate that historically morality and character builing are central concerns of most martial arts. If you read the autobiographies of or biographies about famous masters, this is the unifying thread that unites them beyond the different methods each advocated. They all felt martial arts had to serve a greater purpse than mere fighting and that purpose was to improve people's lives and thereby improve their communities:

Kano, Founder of Judo ("All things connected with [Judo] should be directed at it's ultimate object, the benefit of humanity")

Funakoshi, Founder of (Shotokan)Japanese Karate ("The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of it's participants")

Doshin So, Founder of Shorinji Kempo ("Live half for yourself and half for others")

Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido ("The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit")

--And that's just the tip of the iceberg among Japanese martial arts masters.

In the past you had to prove yourself of worthy character toeven be accepted as a student of the matrial arts. Instructors were picky about who they chose.

These days, pretty much ANYONE who walks in the door and can pay will be accepted. That is a HUGE change in the way martial arts are practiced. Huge.


Gichin Funakoshi also said "martial arts should be an aid to justice".  There always needs to be morality in martial arts, or any combat art for that matter.  The simple reason is that you are going to posses skills beyond that of the average person and it's easy to become a bully or drunk with power.

 

I'm positive the parents of the kids I teach Jiujitsu to are very much interested in my ethics and how I conduct myself outside of training.  Just because I am knowledgable about a subject doesn't mean I should be teaching it.  As an instructor, you are an example to those you train, not just kids but everyone you are better than.  I remember when I was a kid and how much I admired my sensei and wanted to be like him.  If I found out he did drugs or beat his wife, it would have devastated me.

 

On a side note Shen, I like the fact you included Doshin So in your post.  One of the most underrated of all Japan's  masters.  His philosophy of Kongo Zen has had a profound impact on the way I view life in general.  He was also a truly ethical person by all accounts and believed heavily in service to others.

8/7/14 6:40 AM
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Randy Marsh
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ttt Phone Post 3.0
8/8/14 1:53 AM
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shen
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Yes, Robobear, Doshin So was an interesting person!

8/8/14 4:42 PM
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shen
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rydney - 
Robobear - 
shen - 
UGCTT_Fillthy - If you think BJJ is a combat sport, then a black belt probably doesn't mean anything beyond 'really good grappler' (ie Lloyd Irvin)

If you think BJJ is a martial art, then a black belt speaks more to the overall quality of the person (ie Rickson Gracie)

I don't think either is right or wrong, but personally, I side with Shen on this one.

 

Exactly.

 

Whether one likes it or not, there is no debate that historically morality and character builing are central concerns of most martial arts. If you read the autobiographies of or biographies about famous masters, this is the unifying thread that unites them beyond the different methods each advocated. They all felt martial arts had to serve a greater purpse than mere fighting and that purpose was to improve people's lives and thereby improve their communities:

Kano, Founder of Judo ("All things connected with [Judo] should be directed at it's ultimate object, the benefit of humanity")

Funakoshi, Founder of (Shotokan)Japanese Karate ("The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of it's participants")

Doshin So, Founder of Shorinji Kempo ("Live half for yourself and half for others")

Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido ("The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit")

--And that's just the tip of the iceberg among Japanese martial arts masters.

In the past you had to prove yourself of worthy character toeven be accepted as a student of the matrial arts. Instructors were picky about who they chose.

These days, pretty much ANYONE who walks in the door and can pay will be accepted. That is a HUGE change in the way martial arts are practiced. Huge.


Gichin Funakoshi also said "martial arts should be an aid to justice".  There always needs to be morality in martial arts, or any combat art for that matter.  The simple reason is that you are going to posses skills beyond that of the average person and it's easy to become a bully or drunk with power.

 

I'm positive the parents of the kids I teach Jiujitsu to are very much interested in my ethics and how I conduct myself outside of training.  Just because I am knowledgable about a subject doesn't mean I should be teaching it.  As an instructor, you are an example to those you train, not just kids but everyone you are better than.  I remember when I was a kid and how much I admired my sensei and wanted to be like him.  If I found out he did drugs or beat his wife, it would have devastated me.

 

On a side note Shen, I like the fact you included Doshin So in your post.  One of the most underrated of all Japan's  masters.  His philosophy of Kongo Zen has had a profound impact on the way I view life in general.  He was also a truly ethical person by all accounts and believed heavily in service to others.


Interesting that all the references to morality are from Japan. I wonder if there is just a disconnect from what we want martial arts to be because of where they originated (and I am one of those people), and what they are when they land in the U.S. or come up from Brazil.

Most people are a product of their culture. I think that explains a lot of this.


Absolutely... all martial arts are also a product of their culture. Japan was , and still is, a very "polite" society where etiquette is important. Most of the generic "martial arts etiquette" we follow is really just Japanese etiquette.

When a martial art goes to a different culture, it changes. when Hakka styles of Kung Fu, like White Crane, came to Okinawa, the Okinawans didn't dress like Chinese, speak Chinese and start following Chinese customs, they made the art their own and Karate was born Same with when Kung fu went to S.E. Asia, or when Karate went to Korea; the cultures adaped the arts to them rather than the other way around.

 

8/9/14 3:57 AM
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Ridgeback
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BJJ needs to return to the ethical roots of Japan and embrace the ancient and venerable system of the catamite rather than the underaged hot student that you take over state lines to fuck.  Men buggering men is tantamount to the strong martial bonds between master and student and hot bitches that say they are 18 and tempt great men of honor right into a long prison term have no place in the martial arts. 

8/9/14 10:55 AM
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UGCTT_Fillthy
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VTFU for using 'catamite' - one of my favorite words. You know those people who greet you with "What's the word?"...my answer is always 'catamite'. When I get a puzzled look, I tell them to go look it up.

;)
8/9/14 4:46 PM
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Kneeblock
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N5Z - "Well, what you believe goes against, not just BJJ, but really the wider tradition of martial arts..."

Modern tradition of martial arts, maybe. If Im not mistaken you have a background in JJJ? Before I found BJJ I trained at a couple different JJJ places. Im sure where you trained was legit but my experience with the traditional martial arts consisted of unstable individuals preaching pseudo buddhism in slapstick Japanese garb and showing crappy technique.

What drew me to BJJ and what I always assumed drew everyone else was the practicality of it. You were taught, you practiced live and there was minimal theory or philosophy involved.

I cannot speak for a historical cross cultural "moral" code in martial arts because I do not know enough about the historical teaching methods, arts et al but I do know that throughout history wars have been fought by rough men, not philosophers.
You are correct in your last statement, but the origin of martial arts is the sheathing of your sword and use of those same techniques in a collegial atmosphere for inner mastery.

Judo, which BJJ hails from, was founded on this premise. BJJ's emphasis on proving effectiveness for capitalist means and as an extension of machismo regressed Kano's objectives somewhat, but was more in line with Mayeda's youthful need to stay solvent.

If we learn the arts of war only to be better at hurting people, it's no art. And to call it purely a sport when the aim is to hurt people artfully is deeply disingenuous. Also most modern bjj isnt exactly combat practical past blue or purple belt anyway.

It is an art. It allows you to control others by controlling yourself. As an art, there is an associated code attached to bringing yourself under better control off the mat. This is vital to what bjj is really all about.

It's not always taught and isn't a litmus test for a black belt, but should be the goal of anyone trying to attain true mastery, particularly as they get older and techniques that were once reliable fall by the wayside. The black belt is only the beginning of knowing what bjj really means imo. Phone Post 3.0
8/9/14 4:50 PM
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m.g
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When one researches the history to Gjj/Bjj one finds that it has a lot in common with other Martial Arts systems in regards to ethics and a moral code.

Were the people who originated Gjj/Bjj always moral and model citizens? No! However that didn't stop them from implementing their own moral code when it came to evaluating their own students and even how they decided to live their own lives.

Helio used two other criteria for receiving a black belt from him besides physical and technical skill.


According to Helio, in order to get a black belt from him (which ultimately meant the person "represented" Helio in some shape or form) the person had to:

1)demonstrate high level teaching ability

2) be of good moral character
8/10/14 9:29 PM
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Tap21
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2)a) Except if someone beats your brother in a grappling match and you have to ambush him and beat him up 2 on 1 with a steel box.

2)b) Except if you decide you need a couple extra-marital relationships along the way.

These guys were prizefighters NOT moral leaders. We should stop trying to push this square peg into the round hole of the moral martial arts master stereotype.

There is no more morality inherent to the founders of BJJ than there is to any other boxer, MMA fighter, or other combat sports athlete.

And...that's fine. They promoted a system to strangle other men...they're not guardians of morality.
8/11/14 11:13 AM
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m.g
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Tap21,

Whether the original Gracie brothers (or even the current Gracie brew) were prizefights and not moral leaders is not relevant to the discussion. Because whether we liked it or not, whether were agreed with it or not, whether they lived up to their own standard or not, they had (and still have) a moral criteria and standard for promotion to higher belts particularly the black belt.

In other words, "technical skill and ability" was never the sole criteria/standard by which the Gracie promoted people to black belt. In order to get a black belt from the Gracies (especially from some members of the family such as the late Helio Gracie and the late Carlson Gracie) one had to pass some moral standard in addition to demonstrating technical skill (and teaching ability). That's a fact!
8/11/14 12:40 PM
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Mighty Cthulhu
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UGCTT_Fillthy - VTFU for using 'catamite' - one of my favorite words. You know those people who greet you with "What's the word?"...my answer is always 'catamite'. When I get a puzzled look, I tell them to go look it up.

;)

I used to have a fantasy football team that I named "Catamite Dynamite."

There has to be some sort of social context where this phrase will catch on like wildfire, rather than just confusing and/or repulsing people.
8/11/14 6:01 PM
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prophit
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shen - 
The People's Knee - 

Who do you think posted those flyers all over your neighborhood?

 

Probably some hater...

Sure, sometimes I wander into people's yards, or maybe linger innocently in their bushes at night, but "Peeping Tom"...? --I ain't even trying to hear that.


Completely unrelated - "Peeping Perry" actually has a nice ring to it.
8/11/14 7:06 PM
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shen
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Regarding the "metal box", people misunderstand this whole thing...

It wasn't some super-heavy solid steel box --NO! It was a small, frail metal box --not much more heft to it than a tin cup. Helio had to find a way to use a weak-- even fragile-- weapon against a very dangerous man.

It was a David & Goliath like triumph of ingenuity and technique over sheer strength.

8/11/14 7:07 PM
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shen
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Edited: 08/11/14 7:14 PM
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prophit - 
shen - 
The People's Knee - 

Who do you think posted those flyers all over your neighborhood?

 

Probably some hater...

Sure, sometimes I wander into people's yards, or maybe linger innocently in their bushes at night, but "Peeping Tom"...? --I ain't even trying to hear that.


Completely unrelated - "Peeping Perry" actually has a nice ring to it.

 

Hmmmm... I'll test it out next time a home-owner demands, "WHO is that in my yard at 3am...?"

Thanks!

 

8/11/14 7:14 PM
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Horus2001
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m.g - Tap21,

Whether the original Gracie brothers (or even the current Gracie brew) were prizefights and not moral leaders is not relevant to the discussion. Because whether we liked it or not, whether were agreed with it or not, whether they lived up to their own standard or not, they had (and still have) a moral criteria and standard for promotion to higher belts particularly the black belt.

In other words, "technical skill and ability" was never the sole criteria/standard by which the Gracie promoted people to black belt. In order to get a black belt from the Gracies (especially from some members of the family such as the late Helio Gracie and the late Carlson Gracie) one had to pass some moral standard in addition to demonstrating technical skill (and teaching ability). That's a fact!
Read choque, then tell us if any Gracie has any right to demand a high level of morality from another human being.

They were thugs in most of the book. For some reason people believe the Gracies are like some clan of samurai, honorable, proud and right acting. A bit of research quickly dispels that notion... Phone Post
8/15/14 8:34 PM
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m.g
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Horus2001,

Dude, no offense but you need to LEARN TO READ!

I am NOT endorsing the Gracies' moral position on promotion. I did NOT say the Gracies were moral leaders. I did NOT say anything about the Gracies being honorable or moral to any higher degree than anyone else.

I'm simply stating the FACT that a moral criteria/standard was big part of promotion to black belt for some Gracies.

Stating this FACT in no way means I agree with it.
8/15/14 11:37 PM
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Mighty Cthulhu
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I think the point he made above is that it is a FACT that the Gracies never actually applied any such moral criteria/standard .... they just talked about as if they did it.

As "choque" shows, you can hardly trust a word they claimed about their history.

Talking about applying a moral standard isn't the same as actually doing it. In reality, the Gracie black belt ranks were chock full of thugs and low lifes, and their own morals ... well, we can all make our decisions. But the alleged moral standards were, if ever applied in any form (doubtful), little more than "don't already be imprisoned for life."
8/16/14 12:10 AM
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The People's Knee
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In BJJ, the moral standard that is talked about most, held up highest, and rewarded above all others is loyalty. Like any gang, when loyalty becomes most important, it is integrity, decency, and honesty that suffer and diminish. And how they have suffered and diminished...

Loyalty is the easiest standard to meet. All you have to do is turn off your brain and moral compass and do whatever is asked of you.

8/16/14 1:24 AM
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shen
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The People's Knee - 

In BJJ, the moral standard that is talked about most, held up highest, and rewarded above all others is loyalty. Like any gang, when loyalty becomes most important, it is integrity, decency, and honesty that suffer and diminish. And how they have suffered and diminished...

Loyalty is the easiest standard to meet. All you have to do is turn off your brain and moral compass and do whatever is asked of you.


yep.

 

8/16/14 1:41 AM
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Horus2001
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m.g - Horus2001,

Dude, no offense but you need to LEARN TO READ!

I am NOT endorsing the Gracies' moral position on promotion. I did NOT say the Gracies were moral leaders. I did NOT say anything about the Gracies being honorable or moral to any higher degree than anyone else.

I'm simply stating the FACT that a moral criteria/standard was big part of promotion to black belt for some Gracies.

Stating this FACT in no way means I agree with it.
I don't get offended but The problem is that the use of the word some and then applying it to Helio. In the book, George, Carlos and Helio ambushed a guy and beat him with a metal box.

If true, that is some cowardly shit and I certainly wouldn't want to take a moral code from someone who did that sort of stuff. That incident shows that whole samurai honor visage the Gracies put on is just that, a visage.

Would a real man of honor ambush someone with 3 to 1 odds and beat him with a weapon.

I know there are some people who can't see the faults of their idols but it seems the Gracies have cast a some kind of juju on a lot of people because even documented stories don't shake their faith in the mythical samurai clan of the Gracies.

Personally, I am a skeptic and I see how their history keeps them from being any sort of a moral beacon in the night. Besides, I don't enjoy the taste of Acai flavored kool aid. Phone Post 3.0
8/16/14 2:03 AM
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The People's Knee
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When loyalty to your instructor and your team is your primary litmus test for morality, then marital infidelity, 3 on 1 ambushes, beating up people for "disrespecting" you, etc. are no problem at all. 

Kind of ironic about how highly regardled team and instructor loyalty is, but loyalty to your spouse isn't....

8/16/14 5:12 AM
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Robobear
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Horus2001 - 
m.g - Tap21,

Whether the original Gracie brothers (or even the current Gracie brew) were prizefights and not moral leaders is not relevant to the discussion. Because whether we liked it or not, whether were agreed with it or not, whether they lived up to their own standard or not, they had (and still have) a moral criteria and standard for promotion to higher belts particularly the black belt.

In other words, "technical skill and ability" was never the sole criteria/standard by which the Gracie promoted people to black belt. In order to get a black belt from the Gracies (especially from some members of the family such as the late Helio Gracie and the late Carlson Gracie) one had to pass some moral standard in addition to demonstrating technical skill (and teaching ability). That's a fact!
Read choque, then tell us if any Gracie has any right to demand a high level of morality from another human being.

They were thugs in most of the book. For some reason people believe the Gracies are like some clan of samurai, honorable, proud and right acting. A bit of research quickly dispels that notion... Phone Post

For the most part, Samurai were a warrior class in a feudal system.  No more honorable than a Roman Legionaire.  They had some rules about fighting and their religion but they were looked at by commoners as bullys and not righteous protectors of the weak.

8/16/14 4:34 PM
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m.g
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Edited: 08/16/14 4:36 PM
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Horus2001,

I hear you bro...but again that doesn't dismiss the FACT the Gracie (most particularly Helio) had a moral criteria/standard for promoting people to black belt. Hell...Helio even kept his own son (Relson) from receiving a black belt because he, at one point, didn't live up to that standard

Now...with that said...just because I'm reporting a FACT doesn't mean I agree or endorse it. In other words, just because I am reporting the FACT the Gracies (especially Helio) had so moral criteria/standard for promotion to black belt doesn't mean I agree with it or endorse them as moral leaders. No way.

Are they hypocrites? Probably so.

Do (did) they live up to their own moral standards? Probably not. But that didn't stop them from having one for promoting people to black belt.<br /><br /><br /><br />
8/16/14 9:55 PM
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Randy Marsh
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shen -
The People's Knee - 

In BJJ, the moral standard that is talked about most, held up highest, and rewarded above all others is loyalty. Like any gang, when loyalty becomes most important, it is integrity, decency, and honesty that suffer and diminish. And how they have suffered and diminished...

Loyalty is the easiest standard to meet. All you have to do is turn off your brain and moral compass and do whatever is asked of you.


yep.

 

. Phone Post 3.0

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