“There are black belts, and then there are BLACK BELTS”

This line that I heard come out from the mouths of several MMA commentators (UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator) frustrates me to no end.

It is true that, in general, rank is not necessarily an absolute indicator of skill level. Moreover, for example, a sport jiu jitsu gi competitor may not necessarily be able to effectively apply his game to the no-gi or mma scenario.

To me, however, when said by people that are not practioners of jiu jitsu themselves, this quote comes off a little disrespectful. To me it’s like talking about how good of a soldier someone who was awarded a purple heart is. It doesn’t matter how “good” of a soldier someone is, the purple heart in itself deserves respect and honor. A man that was awarded a purple heart is a hero, no matter how accurate he might be at a shooting range or mentally sharp in a combat situation.

A jiu jitsu black belt is a mark of years of dedication to a sport, art form, and way of life.

Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but when an MMA commentator says “there are black belts, and then there are BLACK BELTS”, I cringe. I think there a better ways of saying the same thing, without disrespecting this tremendous accomplishment.

0 thoughts on ““There are black belts, and then there are BLACK BELTS”

  1. Chris Round

    Agreed. It should be noted that there will always be question of the quality of rank amongst some individuals. I can think of several cases where I may not have likely promoted or recommended someone being promoted to black belt. I also know of several individuals who were brown belts for an exceptionally long time and were more then capable of holding the rank of black belt. On the whole however, I can count on one hand the number of cases where someone truly should not have held that rank. This however is coming from someone who has held that rank and understands the dedication and level of knowledge that rank entails. It is frustrating to hear that from someone who may be ignorant of the little nuances that go into this. Especially in MMA. Its a different environment. For instance, I can think of a few examples where I got double legged and landed on my back during a scramble during my wrestling career. Does that say anything about my rank in Judo? Not particularly, its a different sport all together. Someone should not make a comment regarding someone elses rank unless they are in fact very very qualified to commentate on it. Considering its such a sensitive topic, its probably shouldn’t have any real commentary at all applied in a public arena.


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