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  1. #1
    Yrkoon9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Land of the Living

    Arts that command respect.

    I am posting this here in because it doesn't seem to fall into other categories.

    There are some presumptions and prejudices that come with certain arts. Everyone has different opinions on the subject. And as we would all like to be objective and judge people on their ability not their rank or art that just does not happen. It is much like sexism, racism, ageism and whatnot. We would all like to claim we are free from these biases but the reality is everyone has them. Martial arts is no different.

    Over the years some arts have commanded more respect than others. Others have always been laughed at. But recently we are going through another shift.

    When someone says, "I am a ________belt in ________." We automatically make assumptions.

    When someone says, "I have done _________ years in ___________." We make those same assumptions. Some good and some bad.

    Recently while cruising the message boards it seems that when someone makes 'Black belt', it is automatically assumed (in the MMA community at least) that if it ain't BJJ it ain't worth a crap. When you see, Congrats to _______ on Black Belt! You almost assume its going to be BJJ. And if it is not you kinda wonder a little bit. This is a gross generalization of course. But to the average Joe, watching a few UFC's and TUF's along with his 3mo TKD course as a teen he makes these same assumptions.

    In the 1950's/60's I know that a black belt in Judo was held in pretty high esteem. In the 70's Kempo/Kenpo had a similar connotation. In the 80's, I hate to say it, but Ninjitsu/Taijitsu and Aikido gathered some steam. But in the 90's continuing into today BJJ reigns supreme as the conceptual badass art. The assumption being that if someone has a black belt in BJJ they are gonna whoop ass. Moreso than a Judo black belt, Kempo blackbelt, etc.

    There have been constants over the years. Boxing for instance has always enjoyed notoriety as a functional and respected martial art. But since no one has a black belt in boxing it has always been difficult to connotate someones level of skill and accomplishment. The old addage of 'Golden Gloves' champion sort of rings hollow since it seems every one and their uncle has held that title. But if someone were to say they boxed professionally for 4 years it would certainly solidify their status.

    On a similar note wrestling has held some degree of legitimacy over the years. But until recently very few people understood how absolutely devestating this style of fighting can be. Again it is difficult to measure someones skill level without that belt. It seems everyone and their brother was a wrestler. But a division 1, collegiate wrestler and state champion certainly earns respect. Especially in light of wrestlings recent success in MMA.

    Now obviously I have made a lot of generalizations and biased statements. But I really believe that my overall premise is true regardless of your own prejudices. And that is that some arts command more respect than others. Without the details of a particular practictioner or fighter people make assumptions of skill and ability based on art and belt.

    I was recently thinking about this in regards to 'other' styles of Jiu Jitsu. In all honesty when someone says they do jiu jitsu today you can pretty much assume they are doing BJJ. When they mention it is not BJJ their status is immediately downgraded. If they say they do JJJ most people immediately knock them down a few ranks thinking, Sorry that standing wristlock crap ain't gonna work on me! But recently Diego Sanchez was billed as jiu jitsu black belt. On further inspection we find he is a black belt in Gaido Jiu Jitsu. And WTF is that exactly??? Well, people in the UFC got a crash couse when he beat the everliving crap out of Kenny Florian, a legitimate BJJ black belt. Now of course we never want to compare styles. But we do.

    Take other black belts for example. Chuck Lidell. Kenpo black belt? Huh? Most Kenpo black belts are overweight blow hards playing slap fight. And Karo is a Judo black belt. You aren't supposed to be able to use that stuff without a gi. And there are numerous TKD black belts competing in MMA who are acutally are actually KTFO of guys.

    So some of our sacred cows have been tipped. Why do we keep them?

    Why is it that some arts, styles, and belt ranks still automatically trigger judgement? And why do we still have assumptions? Is it because of the gross median values of these arts have been characterized into stigmas? Are we simply conditioned to make judgements based on limited evidence?

    For example if you knew NOTHING about me and I told you the following:

    I am a Judo brown belt.

    - or -

    I am a Kenpo brown belt.

    - or -

    I am a black belt in a whatchit-never-heard-of-style.

    - or -

    I am a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

    What kind of assumptions would you make? What would hold more weight? In terms of a heirarchy everyone would probably juggle them differently. But the truth is all of the above is true. I have all of that and much more. But depending on what I told you you would have completely different reactions. You would judge me differently, and the assumptions about me would all be different.

    So where is the bullshido? Is it in the art, the belt, the person, or the perception? I guess it could be everywhere. But I am finding more and more people who will only recognize BJJ as a legitimate fighting art. And it kind of pisses me off. It belittles the individual. But at the same time I have to accept the generalization that BJJ certainly stands on top right now. The sad thing is I know everything is cyclical. And BJJ's days are numbered. Nobody stays on top forever. The ranks are continually shuffling.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Queens, NY
    I guess it has to do with "If you're in the know". I didn't think too highly of Judo until I started reading the posts here. I also know of some Karate BB that have said " if they try a judo throw, you just do this...".

    If before I started reading/posting on you asked me which style would have carried more weight with me I would have said Kenpo, because that's what the guy from the "Perfect Weapon" did. Now it would be both the Judo and BJJ rank, that would impress me more, becasue now I know first hand of the quality control that goes into geting rank in those 2 styles.

    Edit: I shouldn't say first hand that is kind of a lie, I've seen a BJJ Blue belt own people in grappling first hand and I've seen BJJ classes. I've also seen Judo classes and how they train.
    Last edited by ojgsxr6; 12/08/2005 6:49pm at .

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    MA, U.S.
    TKD; BJJ
    Any predictions on what comes after BJJ, then?

    I agree with you, that we all make some assumptions. If I hear someone is a TKD black belt, I immediately assume they are sucky fighters until they prove otherwise. Similiarly, if I hear someone does Aikido, I'll assume they pretty much can't fight (unless proven wrong). If someone has a BJJ belt (even a blue belt), I assume they are pretty good.

    Basically, for me, the arts that command respect are Judo (mainly high belts only), BJJ (blue and up), Kyokushin, Boxing, Wrestling (but only if paired with another style, pure wrestlers don't train for fighting), and Muay Thai.

    I know there are other great styles, and that rank and style don't mean much as long as the person trains hard. But these are my prejudices right now. If someone mentioned one of those styles, I would assume fighting ability. If not, I wouldn't. Just by reflex.

    Good post (rant?), Yrkoon9

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Seattle (Ballard), WA
    FMA, Jujutsu/Judo/SAMBO
    I recently began training in Yabe Ryu Ju-jutsu, where there are only three belts. Black, brown, white. Many of the senior guys with 5+ years are monsters on the mat. They completely victimized me when I first started. Just friggin toyed with me. Took me down, controlled, submitted. Rinse, repeat x 100.

    Yet many of these guys are still white belts. I know they get that **** all of the time. "Oh, you're only a white belt?" "Oh, it's not Brazillian?" Smirk smirk, roll of the eyes, etc.

    It's total BS. Rank does not determine someone's skill. It may be indicative of their skill, or it may not. Just because people are not familiar with a style doesn't mean it isn't effective. Yet people go shooting off their mouths anyway. Thinking that they know better.

  5. #5
    theraydiator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    New Haven
    no gi bjj
    I understand that people prejudge each other based on styles, and I completely agree that an over-emphasis on style devalues the power of the individual to develop HIS/HER ability as a fighter.

    But at the same time, the reason that some styles are considered to be more effective than others is based on training methodology and intensity.

    Some styles are known *generally* to train effectively, some are known *generally* to train ineffectively, and some are a big X-factor. Many styles utilize many of the same techniques, and the curriculum of an effective style is often similar to the curriculum of an ineffective style - the difference is in the training.


    I think what I posted is right, but I wonder how many style-bashers arrived at their opinions about other styles thru the same reasoning as opposed to something much more superficial (movies/MMA results/legendary anecdotes)
    Last edited by theraydiator; 12/08/2005 7:08pm at .

  6. #6
    JohnnyCache's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Here is what I think: If a bunch of guys made those statements to me, I wouldn't make any particular assumptions about most of them - but the judo and the BJJ belt, the difference would be a belt in those arts means something certain - so the evaluation would be "does he have the belt" not "does the belt mean anything" if that makes any sense.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Brisbane, australia
    BJJ - ex-Judo ex-Karate
    i'm glad to see people taking Yrkoon9 seriously, but i ask the question what if "kung-fu-ninja" posted the same post??

    would many of you have just jumped down his throat??

    personally i am guilty of bashing styles without proof and making stupid assumptions about people based on style/belt colour

  8. #8
    There's an easy, quasi-mathmatical formula for calculating an art's value:

    BA/BB = Q

    Or in other words, the number of certified badasses representing an art, divided by the number of people who hold black belts in that art that cannot be considered badasses, equals the value of the black belt itself.

    Obviously I'm only half serious here. But for all intents and purposes, as far as hasty generalizations go, it's a good way to present the issues of belt factories and low standards to an average person who only knows what pop culture tells them about martial arts.

    It's starting to turn, but we also need to be careful of what I call the "Kenpo Chuck" factor. Chuck Liddell trained in Kenpo once upon a time, and even has a tattoo. But he doesn't train in Kenpo.

    But that won't stop Kenpo people from claiming him. The same goes with David Loisseau. Yes, he trained in TKD once upon a time. But he's not wearing a dobak and doing poomse to prepare for his UFC fights.

    The good thing, however, is that the rest of the martial arts is starting to wake up and notice the difference between good training, and BS training. The two approaches to this will be either a.) embrace it and enrich their existing training by filling in the holes in their games, or b.) burying their heads in the sand so deep that they eventually suffocate themselves into a niche market.

    It's a very good thing, and I'd like to think we're leading the charge in a lot of ways.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Soviet Canuckistan
    BJJ, JKD Concepts, Kali
    I also look at it in terms of how did they achieve their blackbelts in terms of demonstration of actual fighting/grappling skill against fully resisting opponents. Arts which people literally and realistically fight against others have a much greater degree of credibility than ones in which predefined movements are demonstrated or non-damaging techniques are used in sparring.

    BJJ (as an example) is an art in which in order to receive your blackbelt, you need to train for years and be able to defeat an ever higher standard of opponent who is completely and fully doing everything they can to kick your ass at the same time. There are other arts in which a blackbelt hasn't a hope of pulling off "their game" against someone who really wants to do them harm.

    I would also add the MMA component into the mix. In this specific ruleset, BJJ (for example) has been extremely sucessful when placed up against other arts. It has some competitive credibility against fully resisting opponents using a different toolset as it were. Other fighters and arts recognize the value of it.

    I think Sambo also holds this credibility. I think that Savate is also quite well recognized.
    The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
    ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, smashing things up is sometimes very pleasant.
    ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  10. #10
    Virus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    If we are talking about black belts, then we are basicly talking Japanese arts and their derivatives that use Kano's grading system. (judo, bjj, jjj, bujinkan, sambo?) If the black belt comes from an aliveness art, then I would assume they are very competant in what they train to do. In something like the bujinkan which is notorious for it's chaotic grading system, a black belt means next to nothing. You need to see how they handle a non-compliant partner. BJJ commands respect becase of its use of free sparring and its strict grading requirements. Same as judo. To the layman however, a black belt is assumed to mean a death machine. I will say that even if someone has trained for a few years in an art we consider a bit silly, like animal style kung-fu, Most martial arts have their own tricks up their sleve which could catch someone who wasn't aware of them.

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