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Erdrickgr
8/28/2009 11:31pm,
I recently read through the MMA Cross Training Center of Raleigh (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=78545) thread. Took me a couple days to get through all of it, but I finally did! Anyway, the ever-present dispute in that thread was over Mr. Brinn's claims that he'd had 14 years experience in BJJ. It was pointed out that this seemed misleading, as he had very little actual hands-on or in-school experience being taught, had learned mostly through seminars and self-teaching, and was by his own admission only ranked a white belt and no higher than a blue belt in skill level.

It seems like a fair statement to say that his claim was misleading, as it conveyed a level of experience and expertise that was absent. However, this situation did raise a series of questions in my mind. What language would you use to describe years that you weren't under the direct supervision of a higher-ranked instructor in a school setting? For example, let's say I took BJJ for 5 years, earning a purple belt, and then for whatever reason decided to drop out of the class. Now let's say that I continued sparring/rolling with a fellow purple belt about 4-6 hours a week on a mat in my basement, and continued watching TV like UFC and reading BJJ books to expand my knowledge base. Let's suppose I did this on-my-own training for 3 years or so.

Now, in that case, in what way could I properly state my experience level? Would I say something like this: "I have 5 years of in-school experience and 3 years of on-my-own training"? Or what term would you use for the stuff you do on your own? Perhaps out-of-school training? Or would you use the term "exposure" (which was brought up in the thread)? But if you're rolling 4-6 hours a week, it seems to me that you're doing more than merely being "exposed to BJJ". I could see if all you were doing was watching MMA and reading books, then calling that exposure. But what if you're actively practicing what you were taught?

The thing is--and I admit that my experience is limited here--I've never seen a website making this kind of distinction on it. I've never seen an instructor's bio page that distinguishes between in-school and out-of-school training. I've never seen one that says something like: "Sensei X has 15 years of training in martial art Z, and also spent 5 years studying it on his own." So is this practice of distinguishing between the two types of training really that prevalent?

Also, as sort of a different way of looking at this, what do you do in a situation like the following. Let's suppose I study something like Mu Tau (the Modern Pankration system that Jim Arvanitis created) through books and DVD's, and then practice this system at a local martial arts school that does MMA style sparring/rolling. Let's say I do this for 5 years. Now, there's only like 3 schools that actually teach that Arvanitis system (Boston, Orlando, and Tampa I believe), so the chances of being close to one of their schools is remote.

Yet after learning their system, I can fly down to Florida and get ranked by them by being tested. Let's suppose I do all of this, get tested, and get ranked Polemistes (Warrior/Competing Fighter). Would it then be misleading to say that I have 5 years experience in Mu Tau, since it was self-taught? But wouldn't it also be misleading to say that I have no experience in Mu Tau, just because I was never formally trained under someone in a school setting? I guess you could compromise and say something like "Self-taught for five years in Mu Tau, then formally tested, achieving the rank of Polemistes". But I've never seen something like that on a bio page before...? Have I just not done enough looking around yet? Or is self-teaching yourself really rare? Or what?

Kintanon
8/28/2009 11:39pm,
Use your damn belt ranking and or competition record.
If you are a white belt after 20 years of off and on BJJ then you are a white belt. If you have been competing at NAGA or something and picked up medals in the Blue or Purple belt division then list that too, but don't suddenly claim to be a Blue or Purple belt.
If you self teach yourself in something, then go down and do a test with a qualified instructor and get ranked based on your displayed skill then you can legitimately use that rank.

Erdrickgr
8/30/2009 9:49am,
That is certainly a good solution, and probably the best course to go. Yet, many people do put how long they've been practicing this or that art in their bios. It's not like I'm going to have a bio on the internet any time soon... I was just curious as to people's thoughts on the matter.

Suprore
8/30/2009 10:11am,
Really, in a commonly pressure tested martial art like Brazillian Jiujitsu the belt stands on its own. If all instructor x's years of self teaching dramatically improved him beyond purple belt level, he can expect to get promoted to brown belt as long as there's anyone around to give the promotion.

Kintanon
8/30/2009 10:12am,
If you put ALL of the relevant information, then it's fine.
IF you are a 20 year white belt and say "20 years of BJJ" then you are misleading people.
IF you put "White Belt with 20 years of BJJ experience" then you are being honest.

This **** is NOT hard to figure out!!