The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Gauntlet, is a traditional initiation process in which students whip a newly promoted individual, using their belts. Also known as ‘Corredor Polonês’ or the Polish Corridor, the Corredor has become synonymous with BJJ-belt promotions. Some practitioners religiously believe that Running the Gauntlet is the real right of passage in solidifying their promotion in BJJ.
Easter Europe BJJ-website claims the practice originated in the USA during the early nineties, by one of the Dirty Dozen, Chris Haueter. Although the practice persists, it has seen a decline in the past ten years amongst modern academies, due to legal liability. As more academies become organised and professional, one does not require a degree in rocket science to conclude that this archaic rite is ‘bad for business’.
As a subscriber to the philosophy laid down by Roy Harris and taught to me by Roy Dean, there is no other solidifying proof of one’s ability than being promoted by your instructor after a formal demonstration. The art challenges your ability to suffer through injury and pressure, resulting in no justification of your ability. BJJ-practitioners are in agreement that the mat does not lie.
As a supporter of formal exams and demonstrations of skill, the hours of sacrifice in preparation lends itself to certain credibility and prestige. A ceremony that culminates in one single moment to share your skill with friends, family and fellow students. Some friends and family have never visited a BJJ-facility, nor may never again visit one. How you showcase your ability during an exam or demonstration, should leave an impression of skill, trial and pure tribulation. Friends and family should find motivation and inspiration from your courage to overcome the challenge of showcasing your talent.
Shortly before starting my own Blue Belt demo, Roy Dean told me to add value to the promotion of those that preceded me. It struck me how much I am responsible for making them proud. Shaken and blue, Roy promoted me and my fellow students lauded my accomplishment. I was bruised, shaken and stirred; but not broken.
Imagine if running the Gauntlet followed my promotion. Exhausted and all bruised, you receive your new colours, readying yourself for the Gauntlet. Suddenly the Gauntlet overshadows the poetry of motivation and accomplishment. Your mother, wife and girlfriend, all shy away from what is transpiring in front of them. Shock and horror replace tears of joy. Your fellow students turned from proud co-adventurers to sadists, delighting themselves in your unrelated suffering.
Running the real Gauntlet
BJJ in itself is a rite of passage; a gauntlet one runs from white and beyond. It is a lifestyle that changes you from victim to champion and from shrew to a lion. You learn that you compete against no one else, but yourself. A journey of self-discovery and ultimately concludes in self-conquest.
I leave you with Fabio Gurgel, one of the three founders of the Alliance team: “Perhaps my biggest mistake and that must have cost me hundreds of students, was the Gauntlet.”
(Kilian Academy, a martial arts academy in Owen Sound, Canada, does not subscribe to Running The Gauntlet as a means of solidifying BJJ-promotions. Students are required to present their ability during a formal open ceremony, under pressure and resistance. There are two parts to the demonstration: technical and sparring. The technical portion of the test involves demonstrating techniques and the sparring portion of the exam, will demonstrate a student’s physical skills and heart.)
- BJJ Instructor Blows Out Student’s Knee As Punishment For Using The ‘Lockdown’ in Class. (2019, June 22). Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.bjjee.com/articles/bjj-instructor-blows-out-students-knee-as-punishment-for-using-the-lockdown-in-class/
- Fabio Gurgel: ‘The Gauntlet Was My Biggest Mistake as an Instructor’. (2018, December 09). Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.bjjee.com/articles/fabio-gurgel-gauntlet-biggest-mistake-instructor/