Reader Question: “I received my first stripe a couple of weeks ago and I was over the moon. I also noticed that there were people who started BJJ around the same time that I did and they have still not received a stripe…When I went to ask one of my black belt instructors what made me get my stripe, he mentioned that “another thing we look for is how well you can learn at your own pace.
Maybe I’m thinking too hard about what he said but I either perceive this as: my professor and coaches notice that I’m a quick learner and need less training as such or, they notice that I’m good at what I do at my own learning level, meaning that they expect my training partners to be more advanced in order to get their first stripe.”
Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are correct. I think you are over thinking a stripe promotion, though. Getting your first stripe is a great feeling. Your coaches saw that you were starting to assimilate the techniques and recognized the improvement.
At the same time it is the first step of many towards the higher belts and, with all due respect, not a huge deal when we consider the length of time and experience that it takes to earn a blue, purple belt, and beyond.
In BJJ, there is no set standard for why or when a stripe or colored belt is awarded to a student. Promotions may be affected by training length of time, previous martial arts experience, natural ability, training frequency, and the age of the student. They can even be delayed if the student competes in order to allow students to gain competition experience at their current belt. There are a lot of factors and each student brings a different set of circumstances and ability.
Without seeing you roll, I would guess that your instructors observed you perform the techniques and saw some progress in employing technique over pure survival instinct. You may be quickly grasping the ideas behind the various positions on the ground.
Most instructors that I’ve talked with on the subject do not place a high priority on who tapped who when it comes to awarding a stripe or belt. Two BJJ students may roll evenly with each other, but one relies heavily on athleticism and instinct while the other demonstrates jiu-jitsu technique.
In the future, I would humbly suggest not concerning yourself too much with why one student got a stripe and why another didn’t. These things are up and down and sometimes defy logical understanding. Instead, concentrate on sharpening your techniques and accruing mat time with solid training partners, and the promotions will take care of themselves.