Getting promoted is a significant event in the life of every BJJ practitioner. Being rewarded after long, hard work, blood, sweat and tears, constant daily grind brings a true sense of accomplishment. With that blue belt around your waist, that you have been working on for some time and big simile on your face, you realize there is “a bonus reward”, its time to take your Gi top off and get whipped on the back. It is time for The BJJ Gauntlet.
The Gauntlet or the belt whipping is traditional ritual after belt promotion, in which fellow team member use their belt to whip promoted person. Students form a corridor, positioning them self on each side of the mat. The promoted person walks slowly through the gauntlet while their teammates use their belts to “whip” them on the back. The BJJ Gauntlet is part of jiu jitsu tradition just like saying OSS.
Why NOT do the BJJ gauntlet
This experience can be painful and sometimes people get carried away and just forget that you actually can hurt someone. Getting hit in the eye by mistime swing can be dangerous. Some famous BJJ instructors raised their voice against this tradition, amongst them Caio Terra who shared his opinion on social media:
“Tonight we had belt promotions and for the first time, we did NOT do the gauntlet.
In this day in age we should not condone hazing or impose it on people who don’t want to do it IMO, we are too smart for that.
If people want to do the gauntlet it’s their choice. Congrats to everyone who got promoted, for those who did not keep training and keep working hard. Your time will come!”
Sometimes decision of implementing this decision can be made depending on the composition of people attending your class. If you have a lot of females and especially kids in your class, you should consider removing the gauntlet. Imagine parents reactions seeing their kid “whipped” after promotion.
Also, there is a legal side of story In US this kind of tradition is considered hazing.
Why to DO BJJ gauntlet
Personally, I’m for the BJJ gauntlet. I think it promotes team spirit and in that way, it connects people. The most important thing is that you shouldn’t force anybody to do it and to take caution on how and where you hit your fellow teammates.