“You sell the story the person tells themselves”

Thinking out loud here.

That is a quote by Seth Godin. I am not sure what he means exactly. And in this post I am going to try to think about what that means to me as I have a marketing problem because I feel like people are just not getting my message on ESLinsider.

You’re probably anxious about going abroad. You don’t know who to trust and you are probably not sure what you need. You want to make a change and you want a job, but it’s a whole new beginning and I have to say the challenges that you are having right now aren’t going to go away when you get a job.

In fact if your experience is anything like mine then your challenges are going to increase when you get abroad and start teaching. Sorry to say that. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s part of the truth. Teaching is hard and it’s especially hard when you have no experience.

Yes, there’s excitement that comes with something new, but it wears off and if you are not enjoying your day to day life then you won’t be very happy.

That’s why I made this course. It’s because I want you to have a better experience teaching than I had.

Look if you just want to get a job then you don’t always need a certificate to do so, but if you just want a certificate to check the box then go to Groupon.

The reality is that on paper TEFL certificates are viewed mostly the same by most employers. The brand doesn’t really matter. Sure some schools may be familiar with some brand names, but they are in a different country and they don’t really care about certificates.

What do they care about?

Many schools just want a good teacher and 99% of schools value experience more than any certificate. A certificate is just a piece of paper that shows that you supposedly learned something. “Supposedly” is the key word because if it’s a low quality course without any teaching observation, feedback and it’s just not targeted towards who you will be teaching then you probably won’t remember much of it.

And it’s the same if you chase the carrot – the certificate.

It’s like that saying that life is a journey and not a destination. It’s the same with a course.

And it’s not all your fault.

It’s the education system. It’s focused on ends too like grades and useless archaic info to memorize that just goes in one ear and out the other. With TEFL courses that useless info is called studying English grammar and teaching theory.

The 2 other courses I have taken were boring and impractical. I learned a lot of… well I shouldn’t say learn because most of it went in one ear and out the other.

I took a TESOL course before I went to Taiwan (my first country) in 2004 and if I remembered right it was “accredited”, claimed to be “internationally recognized”, said it was a 120 “hour” TESOL course and offered a “guaranteed job”…

I later realized that none of those things mattered and the whole “hour” thing was a bit of BS and I could find more jobs on my own if I just looked.

So what mattered?

The teaching is what matters. What you learn in the course is what matters. The process matters.


“Don’t do it for proof, do it because the learning itself is worth it.” – Seth Godin

How to sell a TEFL course without a certificate?

I am thinking out loud here. I recently made a change to my site and am in the process of updating and upgrading my course to improve it. And I removed the certificate.

Why?

Because everyone is just after the certificate. They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They are chasing the carrot.

Sure some of them may need it for a job, but the certificate doesn’t mean much. And that is why more and more people are saying just get the cheapest one.

They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They don’t realize what they are getting into.

But why should they take my course that doesn’t have a certificate when they can take another course that gives them a certificate?

Why?

They have to have a really good reason to do that.

Here are my reasons:

  1. Short practical instructional videos – watching other teachers is the easiest way to learn how to teach period. Although it does of course matter who the teacher is.
  2. Feedback. It’s a live course with feedback on assignments from me – someone with years of experience teaching in China, Korea and Taiwan. Oh, and I live in Japan now.
  3. It’s targeted towards teaching children (especially in Asia). Why does that matter? Because most courses out there actually focus more on teaching adults. I took one of those courses – actually 2 of those courses and I can say that they weren’t very helpful for that.
  4. Personality development. Many of the improvements that I am working on now are in this department. Teaching abroad is an experience and it’s not only a job. So how can people take that experience and make it a life transforming one?

Another reason is I give them long term access. Apparently scarcity sells and giving people short term access sells, but what happens when you take a course when you haven’t even started teaching yet, complete it, go abroad, jump in the classroom and start teaching and then realize oh man this is difficult what did that course saying about teaching vocab?

Or maybe how was I supposed to deal with these kids speaking in another language? Did it say anything about that? I don’t think it did.

So what I am supposed to do with that.

The experience with the courses I took had a very weak classroom management section. Teaching kids is not simple. You are going to need some skills and classroom management is one and “positive reinforcement” only goes so far.

Now how am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

I removed the bait.

I guess it’s not for everyone and there are fewer people now that will be interested just based on that. So that’s partly why I raised the price and am adding value to it.

How am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

Maybe if I targeted licensed teachers as they already have a qualification that’s considered higher than TEFL certification. AND they are more of the higher performance types compared to many of the low performers who are just looking for a job.

How would I reach them?

Who else?

Experienced teachers? Some experienced teachers have taken my courses, but were they taking the course to learn or get a qualification? IDK.

But some experienced teachers think that they don’t need it.

What about new teachers?

Maybe new teachers would be less likely to take a course without a certificate. They’re looking for a job and very unfamiliar with the territory.

Why would they pay more for a course that gives them less? No, it’s not less it’s more but there’s no certificate.

Do people assume that all TEFL or TESOL courses are the same? I think some of them do as you have seen on Reddit. That’s why they say get the cheapest or a CELTA.

There is CELTA and there are all the others. So they think.

Some people think courses are the same. I think many are actually too. How can they know the difference? You have to show and tell a different story.

What’s the value of this?

Why have you removed the certificate?

The value is the learning. The value is in the process. If you are seeking a fix to your solutions then a certificate is probably not the answer.

Wait. Maybe I am wrong.

Because if they want a job that requires certification then a certificate is a solution.

But what kind of solution is it?

It’s a short term solution.

Why?

BECAUSE GETTING A JOB IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

I don’t think they get that.

Why not?

Because maybe they are not abroad and they are not teaching so they have zero context or knowledge of what they are getting theirselves into.

It’s abstract. Teaching is not yet a real thing.

So then maybe you should sell to people who are abroad and leave a note for those to remember you when they get abroad and start teaching.

Why take your course and not another?

I mentioned the video, the feedback which also enables them to use their materials.

They have there eyes set on their problem which is getting a job and getting abroad. Hence why they want an “accredited TEFL certificate”.

They want the security even if it’s all for show. They don’t know that. “Hours” like that famous, lol 120 hour TEFL course are fake but they don’t know. Accreditation is for show. A certificate is for show.

So you can’t compete with that.

So what do you do?

Maybe you should try to get people who have already started. Instead of trying to persuade people who haven’t go for people who have.

Figure out who you are talking to.

Getting a job is just THE BEGINNING. But that is all they are focused on. So IDK. Maybe focus on those that have started. But are those people looking for courses?

IF YOU NEED A CERTIFICATE AND A JOB THEN THIS COURSE IS PROBABLY NOT FOR YOU

At least not now…

Maybe this is a way to separate the people who are looking for a cert. and the people who are looking for a job.

Maybe they will remember you for later. Maybe. So who do I talk to? Maybe it’s better for people who have a job, don’t need a certificate and WANT TO LEARN.

Did I say want to learn?

But are those people out there? Or are all of most teachers abroad low performers who really don’t care about improving their teaching skills?

There are a lot of teachers out there. I think you are assuming they are all the same.

A kosen judo competition between universities in Fukuoka, Japan

This is a Kosen judo competition between the former “imperial” universities in Fukuoka, Japan.

Kosen judo has a different rule set from the standard kodokan judo rule book. Kosen judo allows for more newaza (ground fighting). Kosen judo is basically “old” judo.

The new rules to judo have become stricter and stricter. Unlike kodokan judo you can pull guard, and attack the legs for single leg takedowns, leg picks and more.

One of the guys from my new judo dojo here in Fukuoka told me about the competition and we went together. He trained kosen judo at Kobe university. Kosen judo is more like BJJ, but with the throws and is perhaps a little more simpler than modern day BJJ.

There are no leg locks in Kosen judo, but you can do ashi garame and I saw many players doing something like an ankle hold or my friend said heel hold.

The matches were 6 minutes long and the winner would stay. The coach would chose who would fight next. I think the team with the most points would be the one to win.

I didn’t learn all the rules, but there was a tie between Osaka university and Tohoku university.

 

 

I got a cultural visa to live in Japan and practice Judo

…for a year!

Cool eh?

I am excited.

So I came over here to Fukuoka, Japan about 5.5 months ago. I started off training a lot of jiu-jitsu and tried to get a visa through that school, but it didn’t work out.

Probably cause it was “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu. There’s not much of a difference between judo newaza and BJJ as BJJ was derived from judo.

And…

I tried to explain to the immigration officer how there were only like 5 teachers between me and Jigoro Kano – founder of judo. Yet, it didn’t work.

But that’s o.k. because I was planning on training judo too.

Ironically there are more places here to train BJJ than there are judo. Judo is popular in the school system, but after school it’s not that popular. I only found like 2 places in all of Fukuoka where adults could train compared to like 5 or more places for BJJ.

Anyways…

It cost me $40 to get my residence card after I received my COE (certificate of elgibility). I had to do a second application that looked almost identical to the COE, but was for a a change in residence status.

It took about a month to process after my application was submitted. I didn’t have to leave the country to get a new visa like I had to in China, Korea and Taiwan when I taught English there. I heard you could get these for karate or aikido too. And maybe for stuff like: archery, tea ceremony or other Japanese cultural things.

Anyways, it doesn’t permit you to work. You need your own money and you need to show them your accounts.

Then you need to find a school that wants to help.

How did I do it?

  1. Come over on a tourist visa
  2. Find a school and a Japanese cultural activity
  3. Fill out the application and have your school enter their info
  4. Create additional documents including your experience that is related like for me that was practicing judo and BJJ in the USA (photos of me in competitions and getting promoted in both BJJ and judo)
  5. Bank balances and or proof of income outside of Japan
  6. Submit and wait

Sharehouse Fukuoka

sharehouses in fukuoka

Are you looking for a cheap place to stay in Fukuoka, Japan? Have you thought of staying in a sharehouse? WTF is a sharehouse? Is that like a guest house? What’s a guest house?

So…

Based on my experience it’s like a hostel/apartment – somewhere in between. They can vary in quality and building type. Some are in old creepy houses with freaky looking ghosts like above and some are in newer apartment buildings.

What are the advantages of staying in a sharehouse?

  1. short term housing
  2. fewer move in fees or non at all
  3. you don’t need a special visa – a tourist visa will work
  4. you can meet people that you might like
  5. you’re lonely and you want to talk to someone… anyone… you don’t care

A sharehouse can be a good way to get started cheaply in Japan if you want to teach English in Japan or if you want to do something else.

Some have weird rules too.

Like…

  • you have to pay for guests
  • no sex
  • only girls allowed
  • you need a “Line” account… like what? can’t you live without your damn social media account?
  • forced sociability

Negative reviews of share houses in Fukuoka…

“I hated that motherf***er. He acted all tough and I just tried to keep cool, but really I was imagining breaking his arm or blowing out his knee… but if that dude touches me I’ll really damage him and then what will happen? He’ll cry, call the cops and the owner and pretend to be all innocent.”

“Man, are all Japanese this anal? Or maybe it’s an Eastern Asian thing.”

“I hope that jealous fat b*tch chokes on her rice.”

“They lied to my face.”

“This place is a sh*thole. If an earthquake hits this place it will be a goner.”

But don’t mind the negative reviews.

You might loooove Sharehouse Fukuoka…

Oh, I should mention that some of these sharehouses have flaws like:

  • noise
  • dirty toilets
  • mold
  • no doors or maybe a curtain separating your room
  • old tatami mats which might have dust mites
  • stupid f**ks that are managerial types. Like why do you need a manager in a house?
  • pro-social types
  • anti-social types
  • old and dirty houses
  • cats that might shit in your room
  • off the beaten path places. Some places that are far from anywhere you want to be.
  • drunks
  • random people

How much do share houses in Fukuoka cost?

I paid:

  1. My first room was 30,000 plus 12,000 a month in utilities
  2. My second room was 35,000 plus 12,000 a month in utilities
  3. My third room was 50,000 a month for everything
  4. I visited a share house with cats and a whole lot of shoes that was 42,000 a month
  5. I saw one online that was like 40,000 something for a dorm room (what?!) and like 60,000 something for a private
  6. You are looking at about 35,000 for the cheapest and 60,000+ on the high end for your own room

Are there contracts and fees involved?

Sometimes…

  • cleaning fees which are questionable when no one appears to clean the damn place.
  • a 6 month contract in one
  • no contracts in others
  • 3 months in one
  • 1-3,000 to have a guest spend the night
  • one month deposit in one
  • no deposit in others

What’s the best sharehouse in Fukuoka?

Best for what? It doesn’t exist in my experience.

If you don’t mind interrupted sleep, general dirtiness, being pro-social, living in rickety old house that won’t survive an earthquake, living under a sexually oppressive roof – which means NO SEX, and living with random people then Sharehouse Fukuoka might be for you.

Hehehe, this post was part fiction, but a large part truth.

Bye Bye, Bank of America

I hate Bank of America and I finally closed my account there after many years and here is why.

1. They charged me like $12 a month if my balance goes below a certain number like maybe it was $1500 or $2000 or if I don’t make deposits in it monthly over $250.

Like don’t you guys make enough money?

2. They have extremely high withdrawal fees abroad. I withdrew money in Japan ONE TIME and they charged me like more than $37 ($5+$5+$11.05+$16.54) in fees for one withdrawal.

3. Seems like they require a phone for verification. I really hate this. Isn’t email enough? Some other sites do this too. I don’t have a working phone now. And I got locked out of my account for 3 days until I finally got a hold of customer service.

4. They have no 24 hours call service and really SLOW WAIT TIMES. I had to stay up late until like 2am here in Japan to contact their customer service. Then they make you hold for 30-40 minutes and listen to their annoying advertisements. They do say they will call you back, but if you don’t have a number you are out of luck.

There is also no chat. There used to be, but not now.

5. While in the USA they locked me out of my account and not let me withdraw money from a different ATM. So then I have to go back into online banking to verify it’s me. One time I even went into a Bank of America branch when they did that and one time they said you have to go into online banking and change it.

So then I have to go somewhere else where there is internet (home) and log in and verify that it was me. And then go back to the ATM to get money.

6. After waiting so long online to talk to someone then I get asked like 5 minutes of questions to verify my identity based on public service records.

I got asked how old my mother and father where, where I went to college, where my father owns land, what model vehicle I used to own, addresses where I used to live, etc. All in one call so I can just log into my account.

7. They charge money to transfer money from one bank to another. Other banks don’t.

Finally my account is closed there and I just unsubscribed from their “promotional emails” as a day after they confirmed my account was closed they sent me some junk mail.

Bye bye.

If BJJ or Judo Is Hard On Your Body, Why Do It?

Are BJJ and judo hard on your body? Are you going to get injured? Are you going to hurt your knees, shoulders, back, etc?

If they are dangerous why do them?

Well, first I will answer the question if judo or jiu-jitsu is bad for your body based on my experience training which has been oh maybe 5.5 years or so of pretty steady training.

I estimate I have over 300 hours of judo practice and about 1400 hours of BJJ practice.

Watch this video to hear my experience on how hard these martial arts are on your body.

So did you watch the video yet?

So if they are hard on your body why do them?

Well, like many things in life there is a good side and a bad side. Let’s now look at the good side.

  1. It’s fun
  2. You’ll learn a lot
  3. Get high! (natural source of drugs)
  4. You’ll get a great workout
  5. You’ll probably make some friends
  6. Learn self defense!
  7. It might change you

Jiu-jitsu is fun

It can be scary, difficult and sometimes it sucks, but…

It’s usually a lot of fun because for one it’s a game. Sure, it’s self defense, but it’s also a game and most people like games. Think you’re not a competitive person?

Think again!

Competition is your very nature!

Think of it like checkers or Scrabble or chess.

Well…

Actually people compare jiu-jitsu to chess, but I never played chess so I couldn’t relate. It’s like you make one move and I can make one move. If you do this then I can do that. What I can do is dependent on what you do.

In the beginning you don’t know what to do, but you learn slowly.

You’ll learn

It’s fun to learn new moves and new ways of using your body. Basically you learn solutions.

Now…

The learning is slow, but you will gradually learn solutions to the problems that you are having on the mat.

In the beginning you don’t know anything and you lose a lot. It’s tough! You’ll get submitted a lot and discouraged, but remember it happens to everyone even black belts.

Through trial and error you learn.

Free hits of dopamine

Jiu-jitsu can be very addicting. Like I told you already it’s fun to learn. But it’s really fun to win! And winning in jiu-jitsu is catching someone in a submission or it can feel good to do a sweep, escape or some other dominant position too.

In judo it could be a throw, pin, submission, sweep, etc.

Now if you are new chances are that will take time before you get anybody in a submission because… you are new.

But when you do you’ll get a little a shot of dopamine that will probably keep you coming back for more.

It feels good.

But…

What happens when you get tapped out?

Ahhh, it doesn’t feel as good, but you get to reset and try again or if you don’t tap out you can go to the hospital and get some kind of shot from them.

Hehe, that’s my dark humor…

Also at the end of class you’ll probably feel better than when you went into the class. I can’t tell you how many times I had a hard time getting to class. I didn’t feel like it and I wanted to stay home, but I pushed through it.

And almost always I felt better once I started and then even better at the end of class.

You’ll learn that this is a skill.

And that’s cool.

Yes, strength and size matter, but so doesn’t skill. And jiu-jitsu/judo is something you can learn. Chances are that you will meet a higher belt who can tap you out and they will be smaller and weaker than you!

You’ll be like WTF!

“That guy or girl who is like 50 lbs less than me just got me.” It hurts your ego a bit, but it’s cool.

That will give you faith…

Because then you realize that this isn’t just a brutal game of people trying to out muscle one another.

Well, wait sometimes it can be like that, but that’s usually at the lower skill levels. Strength matters, but remember that skill can overcome strength.

I remember KRS-ONE saying something interesting once. It was something like…

“What can you do without technology?”

In this day and age we are so dependent on computers and phones and other electronic gadgets.

They are cool, but how about you? What can you do without technology?

One of your answers could be “judo” or “jiu-jitsu”!

That’s cool.

You’ll probably get a great workout

Now I don’t mean you’ll get buff or ripped because of it alone, but chances are you’ll get a great workout.

What kind of workout?

I’d say mostly cardio.

Will you get stronger?

Probably somewhat and you might get some muscle tone if you do it frequently, but I wouldn’t expect much. At first it’s difficult and like anything new you will feel pain, soreness and be short of breath.

Remember that first day of soccer, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, ____ (fill in the blank)?

It’s kind of like that.

However, with time your body will get used to it.

Now what’s practice like?

It depends on the school.

Often it’s something like: warm up, technique, drilling, and sparring.

It can depend on the school a little as to what sort of warm up you will do. I have trained in some schools that do an extensive warm up: push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, bear crawls, squats, burpees, hip escapes, forward rolls, falls, walking on your hands, cartwheels, running, skipping, sprints, carioca, stretches, etc.

But where I am training BJJ now in Japan we hardly do a warm up. It’s mostly techinique and then sparring. Where I am training judo now there is a light warm up on your own, newaza sparring, uchikomi and then randori.

So it will depend on the school.

However…

The real workout to judo and jiujitsu is the sparring. That’s the core of the workout. You’ll work up quite a sweat through that especially if you spar many times in a row.

I like to do that if possible because if I stop and rest my mind gets too active and I start thinking too much and getting scared to spar. Perhaps it’s anxiety. And maybe I don’t want to get cold.

I am more of a slow twitch guy and I can last pretty long, but don’t have much power.

Anyways…

In judo sparring is called randori and in jiu-jitsu it’s often called “rolling”.

You’ll sweat a lot and it’s good

Here’s how sweating is beneficial:

  1. Detox
  2. Helps your skin
  3. Relieves stress
  4. Good for your heart
  5. Improves circulation

You know what? I think that there might be more benefits because jiu-jitsu sparring in a fairly intense manner is kinda like taking a sauna.

Now I can’t say it’s the same, but I bet it has some of the same benefits.

Benefits of using sauna

Anyways…

You’ll probably make some friends

Grappling is an up and close personal thing. It’s hands on and it’s full contact. You’ll meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds. You’d be surprised. You might think at first glance that it is a bunch of meatheads rolling around, but no you’ll meet all types.

In my class today there was a barber, doctor, artist, fireman, a few office workers, and some others that I don’t know well!

Learn self defense!

Yes.

This was my primary motive for learning jiu-jitsu. Either judo or BJJ can be good for that. It can depend on where you train, but I’d probably say that judo is a little more well rounded though because it includes throws and newaza. BJJ classes can include throws or takedowns, but most of the time (90+%) it’s ground techniques.

But don’t expect to learn either one fast.

I say give it a year at least (a few days a week) if you want to learn it for self defense.

It takes time.

It’s been 5+ years and I am still learning and improving although as I said it’s hard to see.

Check out this video and story about how I used judo and jiu-jitsu in a street fight.

It might change you

I don’t want to say that it will change you and it’s this great character or personality building thing to do. I have no idea on how it will affect you.

But I think if you stick with it then you’ll at least learn something about patience.

I remember when I first got into it. I remember watching Youtube videos and getting inspired.

I think I wanted to change myself and become more of a confident person.

Now I have to be honest.

I don’t think I am anymore confident. I know I have learned a lot of techniques, but am I better?

I had one teacher (Sensei Palacio) say, “everyone else is getting better too” so that’s part of the reason you don’t see your progress.

Has it changed me?

I remember my first teacher Romelo Melo saying one wise thing after about a year of training. He said something like, “Ian, if the old you walked in that door today you would be able to kick his ass.”

I liked that.

That’s competing with yourself.

And even though it seems like we are competing with other people we are also competing against ourselves, maybe our older selves.

Have you ever been humbled by a lower rank in jiu-jitsu or judo?

I saw a question like this on Quora and thought I’d chime in with my answer.

Yes, I have been submitted by white belts in jiu-jitsu and thrown by white belts and green belts in judo. So in other words I lost to people with less experience and a lower rank.

Why?

Aren’t you supposed to be better than the lower belts if you are a higher belt?

Well, yes, but it’s not so clear cut. There are a few reasons why you might get submitted or thrown or beaten by someone of a lower rank.

7 Reasons

  1. They are bigger or stronger
  2. They may have related experience in other martial arts
  3. They could be “sandbagging” (unlikely)
  4. They might have forgotten their true belt
  5. They might be better and more experienced than their belt
  6. They might have let you (the higher belt)
  7. You can get caught

1. Size, strength and skill all matter

Even if you are a higher belt than your opponent they can still be stronger, faster, bigger and all of those give them an advantage.

Yes, skill matters, but so doesn’t size and strength.

According to Rener Gracie 50lbs is a belt. So what that means is that if you and your opponent are both white belts, but your opponent is 50lbs heavier then he is basically a blue belt compared to you.

The bigger guy has an advantage. And so to be able to compete with him or her then your skill has to be that much better.

So if you got beat by a bigger guy then don’t worry cause it happens all the time.

2. They might have other related experience

For example, they are several grappling sports which have some similarities: wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu and sambo.

They all use some of the same positions, techniques and different ones, but they just have different goals. So maybe your opponent is lower ranked than you but has related experience.

I’ll tell you a story.

In my first school where I trained in San Francisco, (Romelo Melo). My teacher was a black belt and maybe 180lbs. And then there was a guy there who could submit him and he was only a blue belt.

How?

Well there were two reasons:

  1. The blue belt was bigger. I can’t remember, but probably well over 200lbs.
  2. The blue belt used to wrestle in college.

Also in some BJJ competitions a judo black belt who is a white belt in BJJ has to compete as a blue belt in BJJ.

3. They could be “sandbagging”

It’s not very common, but some people might actually be a higher belt than the one they are wearing.

There are some people that enter competitions and compete at a lower level. They just switch their belt.

That’s deception and if the person sticks around anywhere eventually someone will probably fish out the truth.

4. They might have forgotten their belt

Also they might have forgotten their belt that day and be using a donor belt which is lower than their actual belt.

I have experienced this several times in different schools.

For example, where I train now in Fukuoka there’s a guy who is actually a purple belt, but wears a white belt.

When I first rolled with him and he tapped me out I thought this guy seems pretty good and maybe he has experience in judo.

So I asked him with my limited Japanese and he said yes that he did do judo before.

But…

Later on my teacher told me that he was a purple belt, but he lost his belt. So IDK if there is some rule that if you lose your belt here in Japan you have to go back to wearing a white belt or if he just doesn’t care, but he still wears a white belt.

5. They are actually more experienced than you

The belt is a general system. It’s a bench mark and I think it kind of works, but there are variations from belt to belt and each school is different.

For example, no two blue belts (or any other belt color) are the same. One might have been a blue belt for one day and the other for 5 years.

So there is a big difference in actual experience there.

Different schools also have different standards. For example, in my first school most people would get blue belts around the 1-1.5 year mark.

But in other schools like Caeser Gracie or Ralph Gracie those tend to come later like around 2 years.

It took me 3 years to get a blue belt in jiu-jitsu.

And I know people who were blue belts for 7 or 8 years.

There are no systematic standards to jiu-jitsu ranks.

6. Sometimes the higher belts let you get them

Or sometimes they want to practice their escapes. But I’ve known a lot of higher belts to do this. They will play with you and let you get submissions or maybe put themselves on the line so that they can try an escape.

If it’s the case that you just tapped out a higher belt it might be that they let you or maybe not.

I’ve tapped out higher belts: purple, brown and even black, but I know in some cases they let me or just weren’t trying that hard.

7. Sometimes you get caught

As the funny Kurt Osiander always says, “you fucked up”.

Anyone can fail.

Overall you might be better than your opponent, but just because you are better doesn’t mean you can’t get caught or make a mistake.

Maybe your opponent who is lower ranked than you knows something you don’t or surprised you with something you weren’t expecting.

Most of the time you can see things coming with the lower belts. But sometimes they can still surprise you or they might know something that most lower belts don’t.

You can lose. You are not invincible.

It’s hard

Just yesterday I was rolling (sparring) with a white belt here in Fukuoka who was a guest from Korea. It was the first time that I rolled with him.

He said he wanted to “light” spar and well it was my first one of the day.

But he didn’t really go “light” and he was being aggressive. So we rolled for probably 12 minutes or so and one time he almost got me in an ankle lock.

Why?

He just caught my leg. I guess my mistake was that I exposed it at some point. And I almost tapped out, but I got out and did the escape I had learned before.

I didn’t get hurt and I was fine.

But it was close.

I could have tapped.

I was thinking to myself, “don’t get hurt because you don’t want to tap out to a white belt”.

He was bit stronger than me as I felt like I was loosing my grip on his collar to prevent him from going back and finishing the ankle lock, but I took one last chance to push down his foot on my hip and scoot past his leg and get out.

I actually really wanted to tap him out, because he said he wanted to go “light”, but was being really aggressive so that just made me mad. I like to go lighter for my first few rolls to warm up and not go 100% right off the bat.

But hey he’s a white belt and a lot of white belts are wild like that.

Eventually I caught him in an arm bar and he tapped out. And that was the end of that.

But you have to be careful.

I remember Steve Maxwell (cool guy) on the Joe Rogan show saying that a lot of the injuries that he sees are from higher belts not tapping out to lower belts.

It’s hard.

You don’t want to lose to someone who is lower ranked than you, but you have to “remember that your joints have no pride”.

Someone said that on Reddit and it’s true. You have an ego and losing to a lower rank is more of a blow to your ego. But if you want to stay healthy you should get used to it.

And me too.

I understand it is hard when you are in the moment. You don’t want to fail, but tomorrow is another day. You got to think long term.

Getting thrown in judo

I spend less time doing judo, but getting thrown by a lower belt seems to matter a bit less to me.

Maybe because to me it’s just getting thrown and the consequences are not that big. But when you get submitted with a joint lock or choke the consequences in reality are much greater if you don’t tap.

That’s because if you don’t tap your joint is going to get damaged or you will be knocked unconscious (possibly die) if you are choked.

A throw is easier in my eyes. But maybe it also depends on what you value more. If you are a fierce judo competitor getting thrown is a big deal.

But I started with jiu-jitsu and it’s less of a blow to my ego if I get thrown.

Conclusion – It’s easier to lose to a higher belt

It’s less of a blow to your ego if you lose to a higher belt or higher ranking person, but if you lose to a lower belt it’s harder.

There are a lot of reasons on why you may have lost to a lower belt such as they could be bigger, stronger, actually more experienced, sandbagging, not the belt they are wearing, or you just might have gotten caught.

I have lost (been submitted, pinned or thrown) to lower ranks for all of those reasons.

We all want to win, but losing is just part of this game and you are going to lose many times. I know it’s a little cliche to hear but there is often some truth to it and that is that it is a “learning experience”.

Tomorrow is another day and you want to be healthy so despite their belt color you probably want to do what one of my teachers said, “tap early and tap often”.