You’ve put in your years of training. Blood, sweat, and
tears. Worked through and around some injuries and have learned infinitely more
about BJJ than most people will about anything else at all. What is expected of
you at this level? What are your responsibilities and how do you represent this
From a technical perspective most students do not radically
change their game from brown to black, it is a series of refinement. Brown
belts should be comfortable from any position, even from positions of severe
disadvantage. Brown belts should have a good ‘poker face’ when it comes to
being crushed by someone on top – they should be able to weather the storm and
come out fighting. Brown belts must be able to adapt their games to fight
opponents of different sizes. They must be able to turn up the intensity to a
competitive level and turn it down to a coaching level at will. The brown belt
must exhibit self-control and not get upset, throw a tantrum, or pout when
things don’t go his way. They should have attack sequences that are often
uniquely their own and a good set of high-percentage finishes.
Brown belts will be called on to coach in class and/or teach
their own classes. They are expected to refine their coaching skills and be
able to teach even to students who are having extreme difficulty learning what
they perceive as a ‘simple’ movement. This sometimes requires a radically
different on-the-spot approach to that student.
Brown belts must exhibit confidence and command presence.
They have earned what would be the equivalent of a Masters degree and operate
in a military sense as a senior NCO/junior Officer in the club. Black belts
should take what the brown belts have to say very seriously. When I make
decisions about changes that are going to take place my brown belts are my
executive council – their input matters very much to me.
The move from brown to black can often be a long one but
many lessons are learned along the way. There is a certain level of mental and
emotional maturity that occurs during this journey. A brown belt must have made
some significant contribution to the Academy or the art of BJJ before I will
promote or recommend them for promotion to black belt. This can take many forms
but this project is an absolute requirement for promotion at Valhalla.
Brian Jones, PhD