Should Promotions Be a Surprise or Not? /// By: Vincent Inoncillo
When we first start Jiu-Jitsu we are so alien to the whole thing. We may have seen it being used in an MMA or Jiu-Jitsu match, or maybe from videos online. But nothing could be more different than the actual first time you get a full on roll. As in it being your first day and totally getting smashed. As time goes on we learn and we get better. In this beginning stage it is just fun and learning. Through progression our belt color will change. The way these belts are given vary between academies. Sometimes they are given thorough belt testing, given unannounced (by surprise) or given by saying “Hey, make sure to be at the Saturday morning class to receive your new belt.” The promotion is inevitable, but the methods are different.
Some curriculums in particular academies require that the student learn a certain set of fundamentals before they can progress to the next level. Displaying that they can professionally apply these techniques in a live situation will graduate them to the next belt. Typically this type of situation would be in belt testing. A student can show progress in class and later the professor will announce a day for candidates for the next belt to test for their next belt.
Belt promotions can also occur by surprise. An example of this is after a student has shown progress of their Jiu-Jitsu and the professor feels it’s time for them to change color, the professor can then award the new belt at their discretion. Sometimes this is in the middle of class or maybe even at the end of class. Other forms of surprise promotions can take place on the podium after a competition or even on the mat, like AOJ’s Johnatha Alves after he won his finals match at the recent IBJJF World Championship.
Regardless of who you are or how serious you are about this art and sport, the next belt is always motivation. Each level is a goal that every practitioner wants to reach. Now, the question in mind is how do surprise belt promotions affect a student compared to already knowing they’re going to get their belt on a particular day? Does knowledge of already knowing when you are going to receive your new belt motivate you or make you feel comfortable? It seems like it can go both ways depending on the student and maybe the environment.
Knowing that your next belt is coming should be the mindset, it’s just that the day can solely be up to your instructor. Everyone will get promoted, but everybody’s promotion day will be different. Whether you know you were going to get promoted or it’s going to be a surprise that belt will come. Keeping a positive mindset and just continuing to improve daily or even when you can lead you to the next step.