As you know by now: everyone starts off as a White Belt. As illustrated above, you'll note the belt order (which is always correct), and the estimated time frames at that belt (which isn't always correct). Traditionally, the recipe stripes based on time served on the mats with a dash of noticeable improvement and, maybe, some extra effort awards for doing things for your school/BJJ community---such as higher ranks volunteering to referee tournaments, fill in to teach classes, etc. But regardless of all of that, your promotion is at the discretion of your instructor.
That doesn't mean you can't do something about it, though. As a matter of fact, you should be doing something to encourage your promotion(s). By that I mean doing something more than just showing up to class. While I do understand that not everyone can be as committed to BJJ as the next guy, that shouldn't be an excuse to not try to improve and push yourself. You may want to consider training/drilling with higher ranked partners so that you're forcing yourself to train at a higher level. (ProTip: Clear it with that person before class & ask for help. It's impolite for a lower rank to impose those kinds of situations on a higher rank.) Another fun way to put yourself out there is to compete in tournaments. Generally speaking, your instructor would love to see you take the risk and demonstrate what you know all for the sake of the art that they (and you) love--and they're fun!
|My instructor Sonny Achille and me after my White to Blue promotion|
-Asking another instructor at your school, not the head, what you can do to get better
-Start attending more classes [Many schools have classes by difficulty level, turn up the heat]
-Pushing a little harder during class. Meaning no slacking on warm-ups, drills, and yes, going a little harder during rolls.
-Compete in local, and maybe not-so-local, tournaments. Finishing high proves things to everyone. Even if you feel you're better than that rank, show 'em, prove it, seek & destroy.
Just remember to always love and enjoy BJJ. Promotions are a big part of the game, but trying to figure out why you're not getting promoted can leave you like Clark Griswold when he get's the "Jelly of the Month Club" instead of his annual bonus (see above). So before that happens, look to yourself first--where are you slacking? Look to improve on it. Remember that your head instructor sees more of you than you do, so there's something they may want out of you before you get that next stripe or belt. Even if you disagree with their line of thinking, they've done this before, trust the process. There are ways to go about drawing the right kind of attention to yourself when talking about promotions and the wrong kind. Like in all things, going about it the right way is the name of the game, but like BJJ, you need to find the right sweep, escape, transition, speed, pressure, pass, and/or technique to get what you need.
"Once you understand the way broadly, you see it in all things."
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