Getting a black belt from a private instructor of a BJJ compatible isn't the same thing. Belts were introduced for the instructors benifit, not the students. I don't really see the point in either Randy or Josh being given a belt outside of sentimental value. I also don't see a problem with the instructor judging a students merit on his own. A good school is going to have good instructors who know what they're doing. A bad school is likely to either not compete, or compete against other bad schools in weak tournaments. So why make compitition a requirement? I could understand making it a requirement for sempei or higher grades in black, but not just to get there.
My two cents...I just got my black belt on 09/11/11 from Royce Gracie. I have never competed in jiujitsu. Standing next to me, also receiving his black belt was a guy that has competed and won in everything from local tournaments, to NAGA, to MMA. We have been training about the exact same amount of time.
I would hope that my belt isn't "worth" any less than his. I was 30 when I started BJJ, married, with kids, and I am a police officer. In my lifetime I played football, baseball, and competed in Karate and kickboxing. By the time BJJ came into my life, competition was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to supplement my self defense ability on the street. I have had hundreds of encounters on the street and jiujitsu has served me well. None of the bad guys ever asked me if I competed.
I have students that compete in BJJ and MMA and they do very well. But only the ones that want to. I don't push it or require it. I try to stay true to jiujitsu as a martial art.
I read this thread when it started and it pushed me to compete.
After training Judo twice a week for six months to supplement my BJJ and focusing on my takedowns for the last three months in BJJ class, starving for a month to get down to light featherweight, a four hour round trip drive, and a 65 dollar registration fee I compete for the first time and my opponent pulls guard and lays around attempting nothing for 4 minutes and 30 seconds of the match. I break his guard over and over again and pass to side control but cant hold it for the super slow four count before he replaces and I get to start over again from scratch. I get frustrated and made a mistake and got swept to knee on belly, I escape and score with a double leg. Match ends 4-2 him. No excuses, my guard passing isnt great and I got sucked into playing his game.
That being said, after competing for the first time I cant even articulate the amount of adrenaline and intensity you feel. It gave me a completely different perspective on training and after doing it I am completely sold on the idea that you need to compete, not just to earn your black belt, but to improve yourself.
Im not gonna tell anyone they dont deserve their belts based on their lack of a competition record, but I will say not competing and testing yourself at least once is just cheating yourself. The kind of training you put yourself through, and the dieting, and the conditioning in preparation is what improves your game the most, and personally speaking, I didn't have the motivation to train like that before I decided to compete.
So thanks Jasculs for the video, it was the the push I needed to commit to training and its the reason why Im a hell of a lot better than I wouldve been today if I hadnt decided to test myself.
Congratulations on your promotion, Cliff Hargrave. I have nothing against those who are promoted without competition but I learned a lot about myself by competing. It helped me to focus on strategy, fitness, it showed me some terrible flaws in my game.
I like how judo deals with promotions, you can get promoted without competition but it is a much slower road. I know non-competitive judoka who are ikkyus after nine years, whereas avid competitors like Judoka_UK and a friend who I compete with were promoted to shodan within two years. Some might argue that that is far too fast but if they are competitive and can pass the grading exam including the NNK where is the issue?
I think BJJ could use a similar system although their promotion requirements are far more varied and somewhat nebulous. I understand that not everyone is a competitor but I think that those who do compete learn something that non-competitors miss out on.
I agree with everything Jay said. I believe competition in at least some form is an important experience for anyone who is going to achieve the highest honor in this art. If you're a Black Belt and you haven't competed ask yourself why? If you can't come up with a GOOD reason go find one you can get to. If you're a black belt you should love BJJ and want to have experienced it's every aspect.