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.