Jiu-Jitsu Letter

White Belt Sparring

After class one day, a white belt student asked me about how to get out of certain situations he was running into while sparring. I hesitated in answering, because he shouldn’t be sparring in the first place.

In the Gracie Combatives program, white belts don’t spar. There are pros and cons to this, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Gracie haters like to point to this rule as a reason to enroll elsewhere, where white belts get to (have to?) spar. They argue that without live rolling, students aren’t going to be effective.

It’s true they won’t be effective in a jiu-jitsu vs. jiu-jitsu match, but that’s not the point of the program.1 Gracie Combatives gets you prepared for a real fight. (It’d be a fight against an untrained opponent, but that’s OK, since 99% of the population are untrained.)

We know what the most common scenarios you’d encounter in a fight are, so we know exactly what to train for: straight punches, haymakers, headlocks, etc. It’s just action-reaction.

We want white belts to have automatic responses to specific attacks. We don’t care if you can’t win a white belt tournament.2 That’s not what the program is for.

  1. There will be plenty of time for sparring and competition, if you have the mindset that you’ll train forever. What’s better: winning a tournament as a white belt or winning as a purple belt? If your goal is to train forever, I suggest not caring about being a “good” white belt. ↩︎

  2. Maybe no one should care. At lower rank competitions, it’s more about physical attributes and athleticism, than about jiu-jitsu. ↩︎

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