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BJJGround Forum >> Black Belts and Morality


8/3/14 2:47 PM
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N5Z
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So Im reading through one of the Os3y3ris threads and I notice more than a few people commenting about how a black belt isnt just how good you are on the mat but the kind of person you are off of it. One person even went as far as to say that people like him were responsible for diluting what a BJJ black belt is.

I disagree. In my opinion a black belt in BJJ almost exclusively connotates how good you are on the mat. I dont assume any moral judgement on someone, good or bad, because of their rank in a martial art. I always thought of the idea of the wise martial arts master as a vaguely racist hollywood construct. Do people still believe this?

As far as diluting the art... Os3y3ris may not be a black belt but he is at least a decent grappler. Far worse in my opinion is the social promotion trend that nobody seems to have issues with. When a guy trains once or twice every other week for a few years and is awarded a black belt because he is such a nice guy or he "put in the work(<-- such bs)" that dilutes what a BJJ black belt is or rather was.

Am I really in the minority for thinking this way?
8/3/14 3:14 PM
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Must
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I agree completely. Just look at what's been going on in our sport the last couple of years. Scandal after scandal involving black belts being charged with rapes and all kinds of crimes. We are just like everyone else. Some are good and some are scumbags.

(since you mentioned his name. just waiting for this thread to be hijacked by Osiris.)
8/3/14 3:15 PM
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shen
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Edited: 08/03/14 11:39 PM
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Well, what you believe goes against, not just BJJ, but really the wider tradition of martial arts...

It is uncanny how in almost all cultures, martial artists have believed that there needs to be SOME "moral" component or code of behavior, when teaching martial arts. Some have very strict ones(e.g. Shorinji Kempo, Hung Gar Kung Fu), some looser, but most all have them. A focus on character has always been a major --if not THE major-- focus of martial arts training. Dictates on behavior have always been a part of the martial arts for good reason; teaching bad people how to be better at violence is not a net gain for society.

BJJ is a system that is not particularly strict in this regard. Doesn't mean there are not great human beings in BJJ, there certainly are. But the system itself doesn't put that much emphasis on it --that's actually part of what some people LIKE about BJJ. Also, the entire culture surrounding MMA too has been a big blow to the traditional idea of what martial arts are all about.

 

 

8/3/14 3:34 PM
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Josh Mancuso
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I with OP On what a blackbelt is.

I think it should relate to your level as a practitioner. Although as an instructor, if you're not loyal or are a really bad person, you won't ever be promoted by me, as you are now representing me. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 3:50 PM
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JasonGV
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N5Z - So Im reading through one of the Os3y3ris threads and I notice more than a few people commenting about how a black belt isnt just how good you are on the mat but the kind of person you are off of it. One person even went as far as to say that people like him were responsible for diluting what a BJJ black belt is.

I disagree. In my opinion a black belt in BJJ almost exclusively connotates how good you are on the mat. I dont assume any moral judgement on someone, good or bad, because of their rank in a martial art. I always thought of the idea of the wise martial arts master as a vaguely racist hollywood construct. Do people still believe this?

As far as diluting the art... Os3y3ris may not be a black belt but he is at least a decent grappler. Far worse in my opinion is the social promotion trend that nobody seems to have issues with. When a guy trains once or twice every other week for a few years and is awarded a black belt because he is such a nice guy or he "put in the work(<-- such bs)" that dilutes what a BJJ black belt is or rather was.

Am I really in the minority for thinking this way?

"I disagree. In my opinion a black belt in BJJ almost exclusively connotates how good you are on the mat."

If someone with a black belt is operating a school, there is a presumption of competent instruction. If there are children involved, I expect parents would expect a minimal level of sportsmanship/ethical conduct as well.

Outside of a teaching environment, I personally have almost no expectations beyond minimal competence/knowledge.



8/3/14 3:52 PM
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JasonGV
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shen - 

Well, what you believe goes against, not just BJJ, but really the wider tradition of martial arts...

It is uncanny how in almost all cultures, martial artistists have believed that there needs to be SOME "moral" component or code of behavior, when teaching martial artist. Some have very strict ones, some looser, but most all have them. A focus on character has always been a major --if not THE major-- focus of martial arts training. Dictates on behavior have always been a part of the martial arts for good reason; teaching bad people how to be better at violence is not a net gain for society.

BJJ is a system that is not particularly strict in this regard. Doesn't mean there are not great human beings in BJJ, there are. But the system itself doesn't put that much emphasis on it --that's actually part of what some people LIKE about BJJ. Also, the entire culture surounding MMA too has been a big blow to the traditional idea of what martial arts are all about.

 

 


The martial arts "code" seems to be an artifact of a different era.

BJJ is not a "martial art"; it is a combat sport like boxing or wrestling.
8/3/14 3:57 PM
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raleigh
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It's certainly disappointing when you realize a bbq is a scumbag.
8/3/14 4:15 PM
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1chaino
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raleigh - It's certainly disappointing when you realize a bbq is a scumbag.
I was pissed at my charbroil after a year. That's why I moved on to a Weber. Call me a creonte all you want, I need high temps AND no hot spots. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 4:20 PM
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N5Z
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"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.
8/3/14 4:36 PM
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TalkShowOnMute
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raleigh - It's certainly disappointing when you realize a bbq is a scumbag.
You watch your mouth talking bad about BBQ. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 4:49 PM
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TalkShowOnMute
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I do not disagree with what you are saying. I think that indeed a BB is simply an indication of skill...no more no less.

I'm sure we would love all of or masters to be these amazing people...but that is simply not reality...it's fantastical.

On the point about osiris...he may be a black belt skill wise but he is a self-appointed black belt at this point..no matter what kind of shit her says..

If you can't simply point to the person who tied the black belt on your waist...without first setting up a giant tale...without using exceptions and "buts".....then you are not a black belt...you are simply a really good grappler...there's a difference. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 5:04 PM
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Ridgeback
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If people think most Samurai or even most of the founders of the "do" arts of the 20th century were not generally sons of bitches they are delusional.  

Most medieval knights were just thugs and rapists too.  Don't look to men of violence for moral guidance.  

8/3/14 5:23 PM
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Meatgrinder
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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.

8/3/14 5:30 PM
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Caught_clean
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It's funny I immediately agreed with OP but then seeing what Shen wrote I totally agree with that side as well.... But I think you also once said Shen, that just because someone is a bjj black belt does not mean they are a good person. It's a bit tricky. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 5:37 PM
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raleigh
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Lol, you guys know I meant black belt!
8/3/14 5:44 PM
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os3y3ris
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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.


Jordan, not Justin. That is exactly the point. I intend to break joints and strangle people as quickly and efficiently as possible while effectively defending myself and/or my allies against the same. The belt I wear indicates my skill and experience.
8/3/14 5:55 PM
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rayonyx7
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Meatgrinder - 

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.
8/3/14 6:58 PM
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liuk3
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shen - 

Well, what you believe goes against, not just BJJ, but really the wider tradition of martial arts...

It is uncanny how in almost all cultures, martial artistists have believed that there needs to be SOME "moral" component or code of behavior, when teaching martial artist. Some have very strict ones, some looser, but most all have them. A focus on character has always been a major --if not THE major-- focus of martial arts training. Dictates on behavior have always been a part of the martial arts for good reason; teaching bad people how to be better at violence is not a net gain for society.

BJJ is a system that is not particularly strict in this regard. Doesn't mean there are not great human beings in BJJ, there are. But the system itself doesn't put that much emphasis on it --that's actually part of what some people LIKE about BJJ. Also, the entire culture surounding MMA too has been a big blow to the traditional idea of what martial arts are all about.

 

 


Sounds like I may be in the minority, but I am in complete agreement with Shen.
8/3/14 7:20 PM
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Marco Macera
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Like every other "requirement" for black belt, it will vary widely instructor to instructor. I don't automatically assume that just because someone is a black belt they are a good person.

That being said, personally, I would never promote someone to black belt that I didn't feel would represent our school well and be a good example to everyone else, regardless of their ability on the mat. Phone Post 3.0
8/3/14 7:26 PM
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ElPulpo
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1chaino - 
raleigh - It's certainly disappointing when you realize a bbq is a scumbag.
I was pissed at my charbroil after a year. That's why I moved on to a Weber. Call me a creonte all you want, I need high temps AND no hot spots. Phone Post 3.0

Legit LOL. Voted up.
8/3/14 8:28 PM
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FatBuddha
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The problem is that some of the black belts judging their student's morality are some of the biggest hypocrites of all time
8/3/14 8:41 PM
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UGCTT_Fillthy
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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.
8/3/14 10:46 PM
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Dracoir
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To throw my two cents in...

I agree that the martial arts is more than just teaching a particular fighting skill. You end up learning more about yourself in the process, so to me, it's also a character-building tool, i.e. your self-confidence in understanding your physical strengths/techniques and their limitations.

Some people take that confidence and are altruistic (morally positive), and others are given motivation to be bigger douche bags, i.e. not helping their fellow man or a master/instructor that may only want to pay attention to students focused on competition (making themselves look better).

I like Rickson Gracie's philosophy of the instructor understanding what each student needs to be successful, which will be different for anyone. In my humble opinion, whether they have a black belt or not, a douche bag won't be good at making those insights. Therefore, although their black belts may connote how good they can execute techniques on the mat, they won't be helpful off OR on the mat to anyone else, if they're douche bags. And that hurts BJJ's perception.

8/3/14 11:29 PM
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Elyrain
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I don't think I've ever met a BB that I didn't respect, and I don't think I ever met a BB in person that lost my respect by his actions. On or off the mat. So there is alot more to it then skill IMO.

I can't understand how someone would wear a BB if they weren't officially promoted. The house of cards they are building could come down in an instant.

 

There are PLENTY of mma'ers out there that don't hold a belt at all that are way above white belt level. Does that make them blues, or purples, or browns? Not until they test and get promoted.

I don't know his background, but Daniel Cormier just got his BB a while ago. White, to brown, to black. Could he compete in a BB tourney? Sure, he could get by with his wrasslin. Could he instruct others without his incredible athletic ability to a BB level, I'm guessing not.

8/3/14 11:57 PM
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joe_mama
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shen - 

Well, what you believe goes against, not just BJJ, but really the wider tradition of martial arts...

It is uncanny how in almost all cultures, martial artists have believed that there needs to be SOME "moral" component or code of behavior, when teaching martial arts. Some have very strict ones(e.g. Shorinji Kempo, Hung Gar Kung Fu), some looser, but most all have them. A focus on character has always been a major --if not THE major-- focus of martial arts training. Dictates on behavior have always been a part of the martial arts for good reason; teaching bad people how to be better at violence is not a net gain for society.

BJJ is a system that is not particularly strict in this regard. Doesn't mean there are not great human beings in BJJ, there certainly are. But the system itself doesn't put that much emphasis on it --that's actually part of what some people LIKE about BJJ. Also, the entire culture surrounding MMA too has been a big blow to the traditional idea of what martial arts are all about.

 

 


From what I've heard, Jiu-jitsu really fell out favor in Brazil due to it's perception of it's practitioners being seen as a bunch of fight instigating thugs back in the day.

I wonder if history will repeat itself here [in the US], and we'll see it fall out of fashion as a socially acceptable activity.

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