Jiu Jitsu tradition: SBG Founder Matt Thornton, awarding the BJJ brown belt to Hamilton Ash.
For more than a decade now the ‘ironman’ has been an SBG tradition whenever one of our athletes recieved a new Jiu Jitsu promotion.
Anywhere from 30 to 70 students will line up around the man. One person enters the center, and over the course of 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the Jiu Jitsu belt level, the athlete in the middle wrestles everyone on the mat, one after the other.
The first Jiu Jitsu belt promotion in SBG, which was held almost twenty years ago, featured the classic line up, and belt whipping. Each newly belted Jiu Jitsu athlete walked the line, while being hit all the way down. Sadly, this Jiu Jitsu ‘ritual’ continues to this day in many Gyms.
We dropped the Jiu Jitsu belt whipping in SBG after that first promotion, and the reason we did so is because, speaking bluntly, it’s stupid.
Whipping people with belts is a form of hazing, and hazing is both idiotic and degrading. Would you whip female students? If not, do you hold them to a different Jiu Jitsu standard?
At SBG the measurements we hold for all our athletes, male or female, remain consistent.
Would you subject your child, your son or daughter, to a “belt whipping”?
These are questions every Jiu Jitsu student and instructor must ask themselves, but for SBG, these questions have been answered for the last fifteen years.
At SBG, our Jiu Jitsu tradition is the ironman.
Each Jiu Jitsu promotion is something to celebrate. It has usually taken years for the athlete to achieve the skill level that is merely represented by the color of the Jiu Jitsu belt. In the case of brown and black belts, this often means a decade of hard training, or longer.
During that time everyone, from the newest white belt to the most seasoned upper belt, helped play a part in that athletes growth. It is the entire Jiu Jitsu community, the entire meritocracy that you will find on an SBG Jiu Jitsu mat, that helped mold that individual athletes game.
This is why the entire Jiu Jitsu community plays a part in the ironman ritual.
One by one each student steps forward and has a match with the athlete being promoted. It is at once both a very tangible and very symbolic representation of the entire Jiu Jitsu process itself, that is, when it is done in a healthy manner.
Here is a video shot by SBG Portland coach Chris Stearns, which shows our tradition:
You can also read about this topic on coach Stearns Jiu Jitsu blog, working class Jiu Jitsu, located here: Jiu Jitsu
One of the questions that often gets asked is why we start with the white belts? The answer to that is safety. It is healthier for everyone involved that the least experienced athletes wrestle the Jiu Jitsu athlete being promoted when they are most fresh.
One by one each member of the academy rolls, ending with the black belts.
Jiu Jitsu belts mean something to the degree that they are sincerely valued by both the one recieving the belt, and the one giving it. The SBG standard is renowned for being at a very high level. But for those of us in the SBG Jiu Jitsu community, that isn’t because our level is so far above everyone else, it is because we have never compromised on our standards. And that, is why it has such meaning.