Belt Testing in BJJ

7:53 AM Editor 2 Comments


If you know anything about me, you know I am morally opposed to "testing." As a teacher, as a human, on principle and especially in Jiu Jitsu. It is a topic I have heard furiously debated in the BJJ community.  When I heard I would be taking a test for my Blue Belt, I turned to my boyfriend and said "Nope, no way. When the professor thinks I'm ready he will give it to me." In my mind, I had this magical Mr. Miyagi, "you have done well grasshopper" moment on replay. My boyfriend said "He would not let you test, if you weren't ready to do it. Stop complaining and get it done. I'm not going to let you sand bag forever." My previous motto was "white belt for life."

I begrudgingly and nervously, studied all of the moves and information I was supposed to know for the next few weeks. I was horrendous at the street defense aspect and figured that area is one, where I should fail just on principle.

By the time the test came around, you could feel the nerves. The school was packed with students assisting with our tests. We were to demonstrate our skills in front of the class. Every time I have ever been asked to answer a question in class or demo a move, I turn into a big ball of nerves and uselessness and typically end up giggling like an idiot while my professor corrects me, even if it something I know how to do. During this test our professor would call out a move and counter and one by one we would demonstrate with our partner. I've played rugby for years so I am no stranger to having crowds full of people watching my every move, including mistakes, but somehow this felt more personal. Having another partner, relying on me to not mess up was definitely added pressure. I had a rocky start and when the professor asked me "which sweep is that?" I responded "Ummm, an improvised one?" As the test went on, I actually surprised myself with how much I knew. There were so many things I had no idea that I knew. It was also pretty amazing seeing the other people I had worked so closely with demonstrate the things they knew. I felt proud watching each person show something they learned and it was awesome getting to see a bit of their personal style.

After we completed the testing portion we moved onto the live rolls. Arguably, the harder portion for me at least. The first section was a test of knowledge, but this tested our heart. We started in various positions, always in the inferior position as fresh legged training partners came in to either sweep or submit us. There were no breaks and it allowed very little time to think in between partners. It all came down instinct. Before the test, the other blue belts told me to conserve my energy, use my technique and trust it. The first few rounds were difficult and I soon forget about conserving my energy. By about the 10th person I stopped worrying about being tired and starting focusing on trying all of the things I have always wanted to try. It became less about survival and more about proving something to myself.

Honestly, I have never been more proud of myself and that certainly isn't something that I say often. My general go to mode is "humorously self deprecating."  My professor knew I could do it, my boyfriend knew I could do it and afterwards I knew that I could to. I have changed my beliefs on testing. It isn't better or worse than being granted a promotion when your professor thinks you are ready. What it did do, however, was reassure me that I was on the right track, that I could defend myself if need be and that I could absolutely do the things that had previously seemed impossible.


2 comments:

  1. Awesome stuff! I'm very proud of you! You are a great example for the team and for the BJJ community as well. OSS

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  2. Congratulations, Maggie!! I'm so excited for you!!

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