Have you ever seen a “BJJ black belt” getting their butt whooped by a blue belt in a viral “dojo storm” video? Or have you asked a purple belt with, erm, questionable technique knowledge who promoted them, only to get a vague or inconsistent answer? Or, on the other hand, have you ever had your rank questioned by someone even though you are, in fact, a legitimate whatever-belt?
Christian Graugart, a.k.a. the guy who founded BJJ Globetrotters, has created a working solution: Belt Checker. The website is still in production and has a few bugs to work out, but the verification process is thorough enough that it should satisfy anyone’s questions about whether a coach or student is truly the person and rank that they claim to be.
The Belt Checker verification process is appropriately thorough (and, yes, a bit time-consuming), but for those who either want their rank verified despite not being registered with the IBJJF or want to make sure that their new coach is really who they claim to be, it’s well worth it. To get registered, you first create a profile for the site. After receiving your verification email, you’ll be invited to create and build your profile and verify your identity. This includes uploading photos of you receiving your belts, information about when and from whom you received your belts, and uploading documentation (such as phone bills or forms of ID) to prove that you’re really the person who’s creating the profile. You can also include your competition history so that anyone who questions your claims of winning any given event can have proof that you did indeed win that event.
Again, the process is a bit involved, but given jiu-jitsu practioners’ propensity to publish every BJJ milestone on social media, you can get a lot of this done quickly by plugging your name and keywords like “black belt” into the Facebook search bar.
From there, it’s up to the community to vouch for you. Other verified profiles can cast their votes, which give you points towards being fully verified. The lower your belt, the fewer points you need for verification, but that also means that your vote is worth fewer points when verifying another person’s profile. Belt Checker’s point system is as follows:
- Points needed for verification:
- White: 0
- Gray: 50
- Yellow: 50
- Orange: 50
- Green: 100
- Blue: 200
- Purple: 400
- Brown: 700
- Black: 1000
- Points given for verification:
- White: 0
- Gray: 0
- Yellow: 0
- Orange: 0
- Green: 0
- Blue: 5
- Purple: 20
- Brown: 50
- Black: 100
Each degree on a black belt will add an additional 25 points to their voting weight.
The voting system also allows for disputes, which means that verified users can deduct points from others if they believe their rank deserves to be called into question. Any negative points will mark a profile as “disputed,” but users should be careful about deducting points from other practitioners. For example, if a local “black belt” doesn’t know how to do a triangle and is wishy-washy about the name of the professor who allegedly promoted him, yes, that’s worthy of a dispute. But a brown belt who was promoted by a legitimate professor and happened to lose to a purple belt in competition that one time probably doesn’t deserve to have their own legitimacy called into question on the site.
Like any community-based system, the more people sign up for Belt Checker, the easier and faster it will become for everyone to get verified. In the early stages, though, users will have to be patient as they wait for the extended network of jiu-jitsu practitioners to get verified and ultimately verify others. The site hosts a forum to allow users to offer their own opinions and develop a better understanding of whether or not they should vouch for someone’s rank legitimacy.
To check out Belt Checker and register your own profile, visit the website.