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Honorary Black Belt Jair Bolsonaro Visits Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio Tour
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Honorary Black Belt Jair Bolsonaro Visits Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio Tour

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Ideas on honorary black belts...

Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro dropped in for a visit at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio Tour. The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio Tour is collaboration between the UAEJJF and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.  Jair has been making headlines for a myriad of reasons. One notable reason for the Jiu Jitsu community is he was awarded an honorary black belt by Robson Gracie. He was awarded the black belt but has not spent time on the mats training Jiu Jitsu.

Many in the Jiu Jitsu community have been supportive of Jair Bolsonaro. Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Renzo Gracie are among his supporters.

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Political opinions are definitely out of the scope of this article. However, I wonder if a black belt is really the best way to honor someone who has never trained? I know the belt is honorary. But with so much furor over 8 year olds receiving junior black belts, the criticism that Jiu Jitsu has lost its self-defense edge, dojo storms exposing frauds, the IBJJF increasing fees so it can afford to ensure only “qualified” competitors compete, is a honor black belt the way to go? There has to be some other way to honor people.

Perhaps the issue is twofold. First, it is natural to want to protect something that you love. There are diverging ideas in the Jiu Jitsu community on the best way to protect Jiu Jitsu. However, we all want to protect it. No one wants Jiu Jitsu to evolve to something of comedic value on Wushu Watch. Many would argue that an honorary black belt is a step in that direction. Second, an honorary black belt does not understand what it means to have a black belt. Even if you don’t care about the rank and you just want to get better in Jiu Jitsu, you understand the sacrifice and struggle on the mats. You know the constant lessons in humility. You experience the injuries that you have to fight through. You see the time away from your family. An honorary black belt is not aware of any of the struggle and sacrifices necessary to achieve that rank.

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