22 May 2012

Red Belt: The Grandmasters of BJJ

Red Belt (9th degree black belt and above) is the highest rank attainable by a BJJ instructor (also the name for a terrible movie but we'll skip that anomaly). There aren't many of these grandmasters around but they are there, somewhere, mostly in Brazil, a few in America. You can bet one thing - they have stories to tell, they know a lot about the sport and they've probably seen it all already.

Film maker Hywel Teague, owner of the popular video site BJJ Hacks, will be making a documentary about these extraordinary men. He will track down, interview and film the remaining red belt masters living in Brazil. It'll be an amazing film. In his words: "it will be an intimate and revealing look into the art of jiu-jitsu, focusing on a group of men with amazing history in the sport."

Hywel has form. He made the awesome films on Kyra Gracie, Miyao Brothers and a whole ton of BJJ films for BJJ Hacks. Formerly, he was also editor of Fighters Only, one of the the biggest MMA magazine publications in the world.

The red belts Hywel wants to film each have over 50 years of grappling experience. We're talking about guys who were learning their craft when jiu jitsu was barely known about in Brazil. As Hywel says, these guys are now mostly retired and sadly been largely forgotten.

"Most exist outside of the knowledge of those within the jiu-jitsu world. The attention is firmly on current world champions, but we should be careful not to forget the lessons these masters can teach us."

So here's how you can help. Go visit the http://www.redbeltbjj.com/ and read more about the film. Hywel needs to raise money to make the film. The fund raising website is here: http://www.indiegogo.com/redbeltsbjj

Listen to Hywel describe the project on the FightWorks Podcast.

You can buy items or just donate. I'm supporting the campaign by offering strictly one-off art prints, signed and sent by me to the donor. There's other cool stuff too, like rare BJJ gis, videos, books, prints and all manner of goodies. The spending of every cent involved will be on full public display - no shady hand dipping into the pot here, it's all above board.

Genuinely it's a media project that I want to see get made. I hope you can help too.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Liam H Wandi said...

Fantastic idea Seymour to support this beautiful project!

Terrible said...

Isn't there a red & black belt? I believe I've seen Rorion Gracie wearing one.

Meerkatsu said...

Yes red and black I think = 5th degree and above. Red belt = 9th dan and above. We're talking about BJJ dudes who are into their 70's and older I think...very distinguished masters of the art that for whatever reason, not much is known or written about them.

Meerkatsu said...

Here is one of them...Renato Paquet: http://meerkat69.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/faixa-vermelha.html

Sovereign Warrior said...

Have him Check out the website kickstarter.com they help provide a venue for people to raise funds for creative projects as well.

Sovereign Warrior said...

Have him check out www.kickstarter.com this website helps people raise funding for their creative projects as well. Might help.

Terrible said...

Are BJJ red & black belts still being promoted to red belt?

I believe I read somewhere that red belt was reserved for 'pioneering' figures in the art.

I only ask because I could not imagine Rickson Gracie being promoted by Rorion (who apparently received his red belt from Helio). But then again... I couldn't imagine Rickson being promoted by anyone else either since his own father taught him.

Terrible said...

Oops... scratch that Meerkatsu. I have a bad memory. It seems that red belt 10th stripe is reserved for the founders of jiu jitsu, not the red belt itself.

Thank for the article. I'm eagerly awaiting the result!

Anonymous said...

Some of you are kind of right. The red and black belt is awarded to BJJ practitioners who reach 7th degree. Now when it comes be awarded ones eighth degree, it can go two ways. First the IBJJF approved a few years ago that when one is awarded their eighth degree belt, they can wear a red and white (coral belt) just like in judo or for some of the eighth degree black belts, they just wear the black and red belt awarded to them. For example, Rigan Machado is a eighth degree he elects just to wear the black and red belt. The red belt is awarded to 9th and 10th degree practitioners. The 10th is the highest level in BJJ that is awarded. The 10 degree is only awarded to the pioneers of BJJ, this is debatable. There are few non-Gracies who helped developed BJJ at the same time and were trained by the same source. Oswaldo Fadda is one that should be awarded his 10th degree.


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