Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), to a number of other martial artists, may be controversial because of the nature and complexity of the art. Nevertheless, if Kickboxing rose to the occasion despite the failed attempts by the traditional and classical martial arts to obstruct its propagation, then it seemed likely that BJJ and MMA would also take their rightful place in the martial arts industry. Today, armbars and chokes appear to be on everybody’s mind. You only have to look at the demonstration events at open martial arts tournaments, everybody's doing them although feeble attempts. Kickboxing and BJJ are only a small part of the martial arts world but it is worthy to note these particular arts had to fight for their claim to fame in an already established industry.
The popularity of MMA has prompted many people to take up BJJ, or even Kickboxing, which may has caused concern for many Instructors of other martial arts to re-evaluate the future of their school. The difficulty for many Black Belts is making the decision to cross over that line. BJJ requires many hours of hard work and a black belt is not given out lightly and only some will ever get one. In terms of skill and the hours spent, a blue belt in BJJ is equivalent to a brown belt in karate; a purple belt is equivalent to a black belt in karate (now that’s tough). In most BJJ schools you have to fight for your belt, usually in competition. This does not undermine other martial arts, far from it. This is just the way it is with BJJ.
With over 5.5 years of intensive training I may have become a honey pot to Black Belts who are shy to approach a BJJ school fearing what awaits them after they sign on the doted line. I can tell you it’s like a lamb to the slaughter because the black belt you have been wearing for many years, all of a sudden, can be your biggest nightmare in not being able to live up to your reputation in that environment. As a Black Belt in Karate I make Black Belts, who want to learn BJJ, feel at ease because I do have a better understanding of them than most BJJ Instructors.
The first thing Black Belts ask on their first lesson is if it OK to wear their black belt. I remember asking John Will the same thing, which he replied, ‘you can wear whatever you like, I don’t give a shit’ (well said). On the next seminar, I wore a white belt because I realised I was only going to learn starting from the bottom; if it was good enough for Chuck Norris, Richard Norton, John Will to wear white belt, then it is good enough for me. When those Black Belts come back after their first lesson wearing a white belt, I congratulate them, ‘you are ready to learn; now we can begin’. It's about climbing the mountain not being put on the mountain.