Recently, a picture was circulated of Brock Lesnar being awarded his blue belt by famed black belt Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros. When I first saw the picture, I thought very little of it, but as time has progressed, I’ve realized the implications of this picture are astounding.
This picture shows us two diametrically opposed concepts: The belt means nothing. The belt means everything. Yes I just wrote that. Yes I mean it. Check out my rationale…
Brock Lesnar is a heaving monster of a human being, the guy could probably submit 90% of BJJ black belts without much difficulty simply due to his physical strength and athletic pedigree. Like many people who are “just blue belts” his belt doesn’t indicate his real ability to do damage to another person. Don’t believe me? You go ahead and tell Brock that because he’s a blue belt he can’t out grapple you, let me know how that goes for you…
On the other side of this same coin, many instructors have been accused of giving out belts prematurely to high level MMA fighters simply because of their accomplishments in the cage. People get upset about no gi grapplers getting promoted without ever putting a gi on because they feel it has potential to water down the art. I’m sure that many unscrupulous instructors would have gladly awarded Brock belts over time simply for the photo op and the notoriety. But neither Comprido nor Greg Nelson (who has coached Brock in the past) is unscrupulous. It has been 9 years since Brock Lesnar made his MMA debut, and he just now received his blue belt.
What does this mean to you? Why should you care about this?
On the one hand, it is clear that Brock Lesnar’s rank cannot and should not be used as a measuring stick of his ability; one would be foolish to assume that. In fact, if one looks at the list of current UFC champions, how many of them are BJJ black belts?
Let’s take a look…
- Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic BJJ WHITE BELT
- Light Heavyweight: Jon Jones last we heard WHITE BELT/Daniel Cormier BLACK BELT
- Middleweight: Michael Bisping BJJ BROWN BELT
- Welterweight: Robbie Lawler BJJ WHITE BELT
- Lightweight Rafael Dos Anjos BJJ BLACK BELT
- Featherweight Conor McGregor BJJ BROWN BELT
- Bantamweight Dominick Cruz BJJ BLUE BELT
- Flyweight Demetrious Johnson BJJ WHITE BELT
- Women’s Bantamweight Miesha Tate BJJ PURPLE BELT
- Women’s Straw Weight Joanna Jędrzejczyk BJJ WHITE BELT
Are we seeing a trend? Being a top level fighter who is capable of technical grappling doesn’t necessarily translate to belt rank.
Rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu generally means that you have devoted a certain amount of time and commitment to training. In many cases it means that you have put in a certain amount of time training in the gi and have been able to display an aptitude or at least understanding of techniques and how they work. Every person’s belt means something different, therefore the belt cannot mean any one thing, therefore the belt means nothing…
However, Brock Lesnar’s choice to work with instructors who haven’t just ranked him up is in and of itself a demonstration of the sanctity of the belt. Comprido gave Brock his blue belt, but in all reality if Brock decides to go train elsewhere and someone else gives him his black belt, he will not be known as “blue belt under Comprido” but rather black belt under ____. This is important. This speaks to Comprido’s integrity. It also speaks to Brock’s.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Brock Lesnar, and even some of Comprido for “giving” Brock his blue belt. Some of the criticism of Brock I’m sure is valid, but in the case of him EARNING his blue belt, I applaud his humility and I think it will help him in the long run if he continues fighting.