Several times a year, I sit down and ask myself a series of questions to evaluate where I currently stand.
This gives me a chance to thoroughly examine my skills, recognize my strong points and highlight weaknesses that need to be addressed.
It also gives me a way of comparing how far I’ve progressed since the last time I’ve done an evaluation, which can be nice. If you do this as a white belt and then as a blue belt, you might surprise yourself at how much you’ve learned.
Most of my questions are based on Roy Harris’ blue belt examination and his articles on the fundamentals of BJJ. His words have helped me a lot since I started training.
I recommend sitting down and writing down your answers to these questions:
How is your hip movement? Vertical and horizontal (e.g. bridging and shrimping)? How good are your elbow and upa escapes?
How well can you escape from under side control? North-south? Turtle? Knee-on-belly? Mount? Rear mount?
What if they are holding the positions different ways (e.g. side control with head-and-arm versus 100 kilos; rear mount face up versus face down)?
Can you escape headlocks, standing and on the ground? Scarf hold escapes?
How are your defenses, escapes and counters to each major submission: guillotine, armbar, triangle, omoplata, kimura, americana, arm triangle, RNC, collar chokes, leg locks?
What about from different positions (e.g. armbar from guard versus armbar from mount)?
How is your base and posture in guard? Can you open closed guard?
Can you pass half guard? Can you pass different open guards?
Can you pass the guard with deliberate pressure and control? Under, over and around the legs?
Can you hold side control? North-south? Knee-on-belly? Side ride? Mount? Rear mount? Can you hold each one several different ways?
Can you transition between different positions smoothly?
How is your closed guard? Half guard? Butterfly guard? Each open guard?
Can you defend and counter guard passes? How is your guard retention (i.e. recovering mid-pass)?
How are the mechanics of your basic sweeps from guard?
How are your mechanics for basic submissions?
Can you use basic moves and submissions in combination?
How well can you breakfalls in every direction?
How is your posture, footwork, grips and takedowns from standing? Takedown defenses?
How much strength do you use sparring? Could it be less?
How do your answers change with and without the gi?
How do you know you can do all of these? Who did you test yourself against?
Feel free to send me your answers.
Perfect. Now for the harsh reality to set in.