Wednesday, December 30, 2009

High Standards or Sandbaggers?

I want to start off by saying that the jiu jitsu standards at Daegu MMA are extremely high.  I've rolled with some really tough dudes back at home. I've rolled with belts of all colours including black and brown.  I've been successful in grappling tournaments.  I trained with the National no-gi champ right before I left for Korea and didn't feel the least bit out of my element.  Things are different here.  Every blue belt in the place will choke me out quick if I'm not right on my game.  There are white belts who give me heaps of trouble.  Purple belts?  Forget about it.  When I'm at my best and they're at their worst I can keep it pretty even... in no-gi at least.

To put hings in perspective, there's an American guy here who had a blue belt from his club in the states.  After a few weeks at Daegu MMA he started wearing a white belt again.  One of the purple belts here won the Korean Abu Dhabi Trials against black and brown belts.  As I said, standards are high. The Jiu Jitsu curriculum here is centered around competition.  Sport Jiu Jitsu takes precedence over self defense techniques, although there is obviously lots of overlap.  It takes a long, long time to advance your belt ranking here.  There are people who have been white belts for years and train almost everyday.

One of the good things about Jiu Jitsu is that a Jiu Jitsu blackbelt still symbolizes years of study nd true mastery of the sport.  Jiu Jitsu rankings haven't been corroded by the money making McDojo's who hand out belts for cash like many other of the traditional martial arts.  The Jiu Jitsu community polices itself constantly and is absolutely ruthless with those who fake or embelish their credentials or Jiu Jitsu lineage.  Daegu MMA seems to hold true to that ideal.  A blue belt from this club really means something. 

The flip side of the coin is that some of the competitors here probably could move up in ranking but haven't taken their belt test.  Having to move into the blue/purple belt division in competition is a major deterent for some people.  At home, people would probably call this sandbagging; competing in a division that you probably should have moved out of so that you can still win.  The Koreans definitely don't look at this as a negative thing the way it's looked at at home.  The common belief is that it keeps the standards for progrssign throught the belts high.  This is true, but at the same time I think it might hold some promising grapplers back a little bit by keeping them from stepping up to tougher competition.

I waffle back-and-forth about whether or not these very high standards hurt or help in the long run.  In the end, I usually settle on the fact that regardless of belt ranking I get to roll every day with a lot of tough dudes and will be much better for it.

Me and one of my homies, Po Kue.  He is a 90 kg stud and one of my favourite training partners.
Notice the blood on me and not Po Kue.

New Vision Quest Movie?!?!
I've posted the dramatic conclusion to "Vision Quest".  Louden Swain's showdown with Shute is pretty awesome, but I wonder what it would look like in an updated version.  We may just get a chance to find out.  Rumour has it the guy who plays the werewolf in the Twilight movies wants to play the role of Louden Swain.  Check it out.


  1. Sweet shirt


  2. In the Motorone BJJ tourney in Seoul over the weekend, I lost my second round of the White belt division to a guy with a 12-6 pro MMA record. He went on to win the division. Soundly.

    Looking at videos of his fights, he's definitely weak in BJJ, but still far above white-belt level. He probably learned his jits informally, via MMA and never belted, so now he's focusing on improving his ground game.

    I'm not really mad about it, but I'm not exactly in a hurry to jump back into tournament competition either. WTF is the point of all the physical and mental preparation if you're just going to run into someone like that?