“When am I going to get promoted?”

I never would have thought it. In fact, I never did think it. I most definitely never would have even muttered it! The question that every instructor hears and the question that ticks off every instructor that hears it. “When am I going to get promoted?”

Yes, sadly this question is alive and well within academies. Several weeks ago, I was talking to our head instructor and he mentioned that someone at our academy had been asking this question. Really guys!? Really!? The answer to the question is simple, “When you’re ready”.

This, asking about being promoted, really is one of my pet peeves in jiu-jitsu, because it runs so much deeper than just being inappropriate by asking. It shows what kind of person you are at the moment. Apparently you don’t think much of your instructor and you’ve been bringing an ego into the academy!

First, the main job of instructors is to instruct and help others grow. Do you really think they can instruct without watching you? They see where you are, they see your level, and they see what you know. As black belts, because they’ve been through every belt level, they know when you are a blue, purple, or brown belt. Why in the world do you think you know when you’re ready to be promoted!? You haven’t ever been a belt higher than you are right now. If the next belt isn’t around your waist, then you’re not there yet, plain and simple. Don’t disrespect your instructor that way!

Second, stop bringing an ego into the academy! I’ve heard it so much on forums and from other people. “I submitted so-and-so tonight!” Whoopdeedoo! You submitted a blue belt with an armlock! Let’s alert the media! Anyone can submit anyone else, on any given day.

I’m a purple belt. I’ve been submitted a couple times by white and blue belts and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I got submitted because I was trying something, thought I could escape, or was just genuinely caught off guard by my teammate who executed everything perfectly and caught me. You know what I do after that? I brush it off, tell them good job, and keep on rolling and learning.

Gym wins don’t count for anything. Rolling in the gym is like rolling in Las Vegas. What happens in the academy, stays in the academy. It doesn’t go on some plaque. You don’t get a trophy or a medal. You didn’t just win the Worlds. So, just because you submitted a blue, purple, brown, or black belt, doesn’t mean you’re at that level.

In summary, stop asking about being promoted. Put your head down, stay humble, work hard,  learn, and become a better grappler and person. Remember, the journey is the reward.



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