STORE

Thursday, July 3, 2014

TO TEST OR NOT TO TEST - BELT TESTING IN BJJ, FEATURING STUART COOPER.



Belt Testing has been a long debated topic for many decades despite the fact that the belt system is just over 100 years old and previous to that none really existed. Your skill was displayed via passing on techniques and concepts or proving them on the battlefield.

Now that we are no longer a fight oriented society, how do we grade, rank and test our skill level when a martial art is strictly for the purposes of enlightenment or just sport? Yes, martial arts can play a major factor in improving your health, both physically and mentally, it can also save your life (self defense). The question lies in defining the necessary merits needed to accomplish or achieve a level of skill.

It has a been a long standing tradition in BJJ for students to be surprised with a belt when they have reached a level that their instructor deems sufficient. Other arts refrain from giving out belts and require you to achieve a level of success in competition in order to acquire a ranking or title. Other arts have sashes, shorts, rashguards, tshirts patches and certificates that all show the level of knowledge you have achieved. Some systems even charge for testing, which personally I have no problem with, as long as it's a reasonable fee that covers your certificate and belt - otherwise it becomes a grey area where you wind up paying for rank in place of showcasing your skills.

A newer approach has come to light over the past few years, spawning from life-long martial artist Roy Harris and his protege Roy Dean. They have adopted the a set standard curriculum for BJJ, as well as a procedure for testing in front of your peers. Now, as simple, and as standard as that is -some find it silly, others despise the idea. But think, at least as far as BJJ is concerned. The game is drastically changing from year to year and new styles and methods appear daily. What proper or better way to display your knowledge then in a form of a test. No, it doesn't have to be written, but you should be able to perform certain techniques and show a thorough understanding of concepts in order to reach a level. You should also be able to display those skills in a manner that is semi-realistic (thus Roy's belt test and rolling.)

For many years we have admired Roy Dean, not only for his incredible skill in the grappling arts, but also for intelligently codifying a method of testing, that remains far from mainstream. He also makes it public, and at least in our eyes, each and every one of his guys is tough as nails.

By now, most of you have seen the RD way of testing, but in this particular case our buddy StuCoop made a cameo. As usual he has been traveling the world and providing us nerds with unbelievable video footage of martial arts. In the video below you can watch Cooper rolling with a BJJ Purple belt, as part of his Brown Belt testing.

Watch enjoy and hopefully we made you think a little more than usual.

8 comments:

  1. Roy has stated on many occasions that these are optional demonstrations not tests. The students involved are informed they are to receive their next belt and they are then given the option to receive the belt in class or to have a demonstration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dominic, I was not aware of that and thank you. I do know Roy Harris does test and there is a written curriculum online which you must physically display in front of the school as well as a belt testing fee. Regardless, you can't argue whether the students in the video are up to par - on the other side of the coin I have seen many mediocre and sub par guys just get belts handed to them.

      Delete
  2. Roy Dean is another great example of the florishing jiu-jitsu scene in the pacific northwest.

    Demolisher: do you personally prefer formal belt testing or do you prefer the informal "surprise" approach?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon - In a perfect world, I like just handing out rank as a surprise. Your hard work and dedication should speak for itself. Being a school owner and instructor I have quickly seen the need for a formal curriculum, and testing. It was just yesterday I had a guy come up to me and ask when the next rank test is cause he wants to be an instructor. I admire the ambition, that person was far from testing for rank. Testing and fees make students take rank more serious and it creates a realization that they must be able to complete a physical and sometimes written test in front of their peers. Far different then the typical "Oh, I know all this already, why don't I have rank" syndrome or "I tap that guy every time, why am I not a XXX Belt?" Serious students will be there regardless whether a test is present or not, but testing weeds out those that are just looking for rank or think they deserve it.

      Delete
  3. Many see testing through the view of proving to others what you know. There's another main benefit of regular testing; testing is one of the best learning tools. Recent neuroscience studies show that testing is a method of learning and ingraining knowledge into long term memory. The act of retrieving information in a test and the struggle associated with it fires neuronal circuits, draws associations and better ingrains that knowledge into the mind leading to a higher level of learning and conceptual knowledge. Numerous studies point to the fact that students given regular test perform way better than students who are not tested. For the coaches and students testing is also a great assessment tool to guide the planning of training. There's no better way to assess what you know and what you don't know or your strengths and weaknesses than regular testing. So while many see it from the view of proving your worth to your instructor as a testament the true benefit lies in what testing can do for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said my friend, and I think in the long run, testing is beneficial to students and school owners, but like most things people take advantage of these situations. Either by having an endless amount of tests and fees that go on forever, or conducting a "test" that is more like "show me a pass and show me a submission, now give me $250 - here is your belt. "

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete