Unbelievably, we’re coming up on the 6 month mark since starting BJJ. It’s funny to think that at this point last year, BJJ was nowhere near our radar, but now it’s become a pretty central organizing principle in our lives. Oldest son starts soccer soon? How can we still get to train twice a week. Maui vacation coming up? Are there any schools we can get a training session in at while there. Thinking about moving closer to downtown to reduce the commute times? Must also factor in commute to BJJ school. From the technical growth aspect, well… I can at least say that I’m certainly “better” than when I started. But, there is so much to learn and so far to go in every position and/or situation that each class feels like a new undertaking. We’re also coming up on grading, which means there’s some traditional curriculum that we’re working through.
Our school is of the Master Sylvio Behring lineage, which means part of the curriculum is the progressive system. The Behring school/lineage has some testing requirements that other schools do not. There are a some principles and techniques that you have to demonstrate for the purposes of promotion to higher belts and stripes within belts. Based on what little I know of these things, there are some schools/lineages that have no testing whatsoever, and stripes and belts are handed out in less formal ways, based on each professor’s evaluation/observation of your skill level. I’m not going to get into what my requirements are for skill demonstration, in large part due to the fact that I’m not sure if I should be posting about the details of the system. Through some Googling you can find videos of grading demonstrations of the progressive system (here is my professor’s black belt demonstration), but there is little written detail about, say, progressive guard or progressive standing. Basically, I don’t want to get into any trouble by freely giving out anyone’s “intellectual property”.
Most of the classes over the last few weeks have been all, or in part, focused on the basic techniques we need to know and demonstrate in grading. Demonstrations for grading are fine with me, and in this circumstance the techniques we’re choreographing for the demonstrations are grounded in fundamental principles and, when done correctly, are totally applicable in live sparring. I am aware that there is a huge difference in knowing techniques for demo purposes, and knowing techniques to where you can deploy them in sparring. Since I’m still at the very beginner levels of knowing any jiu-jitsu at all, the preparation we’ve been doing for grading has been really good for me. Lots of reps at basic positions and basic techniques, lots of focus on the details.
As for the grading itself, I’m not sure what to expect, to be honest. I’ll do my best to be as prepared as possible, but otherwise I’m going in with the lowest of expectations. I think I’ve got the basics of the techniques I have to demonstrate, and my professor wouldn’t let me go if I didn’t, but I certainly don’t have my heart set on some sort of promotion. I’m not very hung upon stripes or belts, I guess I’m too old to get worked up about that stuff now. I mean, everyone likes a little recognition from time to time, but attaining stripes or belts is not a goal of mine. The process is the goal, and if I’m getting a little better each day or week, that’s all I’m really looking for. I’m having fun each class, and it’s cool that my wife and I can share a hobby that we both really enjoy. The part of the weekend I’m most looking forward to is the seminars on Sunday. I’ve never been to a seminar for BJJ, and I think it will be pretty cool to get some detailed instruction from someone who’s been a black belt since I was 7 years old. The worst case scenario for me on grading weekend is: no stripes on my belt and 2 hours of instruction from a BJJ coral belt. Sounds good to me.