BJJ Black Belt Lineage – Why It’s Important To Verify

BJJ Black Belt Lineage – Why It’s Important To Verify

Verifying a BJJ black belt’s lineage guarantees that you will get the quality teaching you deserve from a certified Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt instructor. Training with a phony instructor will only teach you ineffective and incomplete techniques. This will neither prepare you enough for self-defense nor competitions, wasting your time and money.

BJJ Black Belt Lineage – Why It’s Crucial To Check

Enrolling in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school isn’t as simple as one thinks. You don’t just walk in and sign up for some classes just because you feel good vibes or you like the gym interiors. 

Apparently, you also need to check and verify the school’s instructors’ BJJ black belt lineage. For some, this can be a bit extra to do. But, this will save you from ineffective instructors.

Verifying a BJJ black belt’s lineage will help you get what you paid for. With this, you’re sure that you won’t be wasting your time and money. Needless to say, this will allow you to learn all the right things about the sport you want.

If you don’t, you’ll only waste your time and money. Plus, you’re putting yourself at risk as the techniques that the instructor teaches may not be effective to use in actual life and death situations.

What Is BJJ Lineage And How Important It Is?

What Is BJJ Lineage And How Important It Is

Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts cannot emphasize this enough but you have to verify an instructor’s BJJ lineage before you sign up for any classes. However, to those who are new to the world of ju-jitsu, how can one actually verify it without knowing what is it and its importance?

BJJ Lineage: A Closer Look

For starters, BJJ lineage pertains to who trained you. It also refers to how your instructors are related to the Gracie family, who established Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Lineage is a traditional martial arts concept that represents loyalty to your instructor. It is a method in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This way you’re sure that a person’s black belt is genuine.

To trace an instructor’s lineage can get difficult if they’ve had multiple instructors throughout their Brazilian jiu-jitsu career. Lineage, on the other hand, always refers to the instructor who awarded you your black belt.

Gordon Ryan, an American submission grappler, for instance, has both John Danaher and Garry Tonon as instructors. However, Tonon is the one who awarded him his black belt.

Garry Tonon received his training from Tom DeBlass, who trained under Ricardo Almeida. Almeida, on the flip side, was the first black belt student of Renzo Gracie.

Yet, despite Ryan receiving his black belt from Danaher, his belt would still be authentic. This is because Danaher trained directly under Gracie.

BJJ Lineage Importance

Knowing who trained your instructor will help you determine if you’re being taught the right techniques. This also means that you’re getting what you paid for in a class.

If you’re taught poor techniques, you will likely lose a match if you plan to fight in the future. This could also endanger you if you’re not taught the proper form.

The same goes when you want to use it as self-defense. Doing improper forms and techniques might put you at risk more even if you’re fighting an opponent with no experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Is Black Belt the Highest Belt in Jiu Jitsu?

Is Black Belt the Highest Belt in Jiu Jitsu

A black belt is one of the highest belt that are already hard to obtain. This is because Brazilian jiu-jitsu takes years – or decades! – of training before you could move up and be awarded by a higher belt.

Because of this, many people who are new to the world of jiu-jitsu think that black is already the highest belt. This is especially true because Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructors need a blue or black belt first before they could teach.

However, it is not the highest belt in jiu-jitsu. Rather, it’s only the third-highest. To get a this, you have to work your way up and complete your four stripes as a brown belter. Only then will you be awarded a black belt.

But, since the black belt is only the third-highest belt in jiu-jitsu, you’ll need to complete six or eight stripes (depending on the ranking system that your BJJ school uses). Once you complete it, you’ll move up to red and black belt, the second-highest belt in jiu-jitsu.

If you want to keep going and further your skills, you may do so. For the red and black belt, you will need to complete eight degrees to move up to the red belt.

The red belt is the highest belt in jiu-jitsu. Even if you’re already awarded with it, you may still complete the nine to ten degrees to make it to the top rank.

Today, nine and ten degree red belts in jiu-jitsu are reserved to the legends. If you train more, who knows, someday, you’ll get your nine or ten degree red belt.

How To Verify BJJ Lineage

Verifying BJJ lineage is crucial not only for your wallet but also for your time and safety. Knowing how to verify it means you can save yourself from ineffective instructors who’ll only teach you wrong techniques and forms.

But, for those who are new to the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, how can one verify it?

The Power of the Internet

Fortunately, these days, it’s easier to do. This is all thanks to technology. With just a few clicks here and there, you can easily track and verify an instructor’s BJJ lineage.

Roll Junkie, for instance, has created a lineage tree called The Maeda Project. If you’ll look it up, you’ll find that they made a simple program that outlines the lineage of black belts stemming from Mitsuyo Maeda; hence the name.

But, Maeda’s BJJ lineage isn’t the only one you can trace. Luckily, you can also trace the lineage that stems from Carlos Gracie, one of the primary developers of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

If your instructor’s name isn’t there on the list, unfortunately, they may have likely lied about their BJJ lineage. It is also possible that they could be so distant from Gracie and/or Maeda that they only know the watered-down version of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

In case they only know of the weaker version of the sport, still, don’t book a class with them. There are many other legitimate instructors out there who are worth your time and money.

Quoting Who Awarded the Belt

If your instructor has a good BJJ lineage, you’ll know right away even without checking the Maeda Project and the likes. This is because most of the time, the majority of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners are proud of their lineage.

Hence, they will let you know right away how their training is connected to the original Gracie brothers or Mitsuyo Maeda. They’ll be able to quote who awarded them their belt, helping you to trace their lineage faster.

In case they’re lying, you’ll know right away too. Often, they won’t be able to give you clear answers on who awarded them their black belt. Or, they might not disclose any information about their belt.

If you’re already a little familiar with the sport, you’ll also know if the instructor is lying if you check their students. A fraudulent instructor produces under-performing students. So, keep an eye out how their students move on the mat.

Black belt lineage is important to know. For some, it may feel a bit extra to ask too many questions. But, it is your right to know so you can get the right knowledge that you signed up for. So, before you book a class with any instructor, make sure to check their background first.

About Carla Mesina

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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