Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Valente Brothers on Belts

The Valente Brothers had a podcast episode about the jiu-jitsu belt system, and it was quite informative, as they covered the history of belt colors of martial arts in general, not just jiu-jitsu.

But what I highlighted was when they talked about “warriors” and about why Helio eventually abandoned the Federation and went back to wearing the blue belt:


And he felt that with the new belt system, the tough guys were all being awarded belts faster than those people who had other focuses and were not warriors on the mat, but were warriors off the mat and their lives.


I wouldn’t even say they weren’t warriors on the mat. I understand what you’re saying.

But you know, and that’s something that we heard a lot growing up. Oh no, this guy is competing. This guy is doing this or that. The other guy is working every day and he’s joining a jiu-jitsu school because he wants to be ready for a street situation. Yeah.


And we’re going to make him into a warrior. The truth is that when someone trains, when you get someone that has never practiced jiu-jitsu before, has never been in a fight before, but they feel that they want to develop the physical confidence and that person now trains, and they’re capable and they develop that ability to defend themselves, that person is a warrior.


Yeah. But I also think it’s important. It’s very important to us, for us to, to really express this because this is something we believe in deeply. The fact that you win a medal in a jiu-jitsu championship or in any type of martial arts or in any type of event, any sport, means a lot and you should be praised for it, but it does not make you better than anybody else.

And honestly, you winning a medal or even a fight in a cage does not compare to a firefighter who runs into a building on fire to save someone else’s life.

I’m only saying this again, not to put down the winner or the champion. 100%, that’s not the reason. It’s just so that, that does not do the other, or go the other way, to then make people feel like, oh, you have to win a tournament to be considered someone brave.


And because when they say that, then a military person can come to them and say, you have to go to war in order to be considered brave. Where does it stop? So everybody has their own journey, and they should be judged based on their path, and not compared to anyone else.


And I think that Gui did a very great job in illustrating some of the disappointments that Grandmaster Helio had in the, I remember him very clearly saying this, you know, I, I’m not happy with the route that the art has been taking since the creation.

Yeah, the route. Since the creation of the Federation. And a lot of that route was based on people in which he believed needed was just the most, not feeling comfortable, and not being attracted to join jiu-jitsu schools, uh, since the creation of the Federation. And he used to say those people are the ones that really motivate me to teach jiu-jitsu, because they’re the ones that need jiu-jitsu the most. They’re the ones that are going to really feel the difference, before they learn and after they learn, and jiu-jitsu can save their lives. So if, if after the creation of the Federation, we’re creating champions and, and there’s advance and all this, but those people are no longer training, my mission is going the wrong way.

And that’s why he decided to, you know, very publicly, you know, say that he didn’t agree with that system. And in his ranch, in the mountains of Rio, he was following that older system that he believes was the right way.


He went back to the blue belt. Yeah. Right. Because the red belt, the black, all of those belts represents the Federation. When he disagreed with that system, he said, I’m going to go back to what I was doing before the Federation. And he put the blue belt back on.


Let me just go back to what Joaquim said, which is so important, but I think it’s also worth mentioning that the individuals who then benefited more from jiu-jitsu because they had more time, they wanted to compete. They had maybe, the natural skills that allowed him to, to flourish in sport jiu-jitsu. But I have to say that many of those individuals, and we talked to some of them today, they would have also preferred, looking back to learn everything else that jiu-jitsu has to offer, the philosophical aspect, the life changing elements that jiu-jitsu in its wholesome format teaches.

The podcast episode (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/valente-brothers/id1542559074?i=1000543173415) is on YouTube is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM9Gtov6kH4. The clip above is from around the 57:30 mark.

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