Jul 182011
 

Helio Gracie with a blue beltMy brother and I had our picture taken with several other bjj guys, and when we were looking at the picture my brother said, “Why are we the only ones in the picture with our bars on the left side?” This of course sparked an extremely dull debate with other online BJJ folks as to the correct side to wear your rank bar.

I’ll digress for just a second for those uninitiated among us. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the ranking structure is a little different from the normal Japanese rank structure that most martial arts loosely follow. Depending on your martial art, you might have ten or more ranks (kyu ranks, which mean steps, or student rankings) before reaching your black belt ranks, (dan ranks which are advanced or instructor ranks). In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are only three ranks before black belt rank, blue, purple, and brown. BJJ also takes much longer to progress than most (and I am stressing MOST) other martial arts. This is off set by sub-belt promotions indicated by white stripes on a black (or in the case of black belt holders, red) sleeve attached to one of the ends of the practitioner’s belt. As far as I know, they are the only martial that does rank like this.

Wow, that was longer than needed. Anyway we know what the rank bar is, now where do you wear it. A quick google search reminds me why I hate reading online forums. You know the drill,
Person one: Which side should I wear my strips in BJJ class.
Person two: Only an idiot would ask a question like that!
Person three: You are both idiots. You care too much about rank! You need to find a real teacher!
Person four: BJJ is stupid, you train in gi’s, that’s sooo not realistic…
And at some point someone calls someone else a nazi. But from what I can glean, different BJJ schools do it differently. BJ Penn wears his strips on the right side, Royce Gracie wears his on the left. The picture above is of Helio Gracie with some blue belt and they both have their’s on the left, but Carlson Gracie says the right. So ask your instructor and ignore online advice, including this one.

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