Vitor Belfort: ‘When Carlson Promoted Me To Black Belt at 17, Everyone Criticized Him’

Vitor Belfort first got into Jiu-Jitsu through Carlson Gracie. Initially, he was training with one of his students, who told him that he “needed to train with Carlson,” because he “was too tough for the other guys in the gym.” Belfort moved to the United States with Gracie, eventually receiving his black belt in BJJ under him at the age of 17 (you have to be 18 to receive a black belt) before they had a falling out.

He talked to Tatame magazine about the selling of black belts in BJJ and about his own controversial black belt promotion:

“Jiu-Jitsu is not much different from politics. People are selling something and folks buying. Nothing surprises me. While there are people buying, they will sell. It is a market, and they are exploiting it. Is it right? If it is not right, I will not pursue it. I will want to learn and earn the belt. I think we can indeed have online course, but the guy has to meet with the teacher to be evaluated, train positions and techniques.”

“The online part is a great learning experience. Today, we learn more by seeing, then back doing,  but I can’t approve of the internet. Soon, people who have never met will marry om the internet. You can’t do that. You have to meet, learn, join toothbrushes, smell the breath (laughs), ”

“Sometimes, the guy has never competed in a Gi, but he has the techniques to earn a black belt.”

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About his own black belt promotion:

“With Carlson, it became ridiculous. He gave me a black belt when I was 17 years old. Everyone criticized him, saying that I had never competed. He said: ‘Come train with Vitor to see’. If the guy trains in the Gi and has the proper techniques, no need to compete, he can now earn a black belt. You don’t need to be world champion for that. Sometimes the guy is not champion, but has the right to have a black belt. Jiu-Jitsu is also a sport, “

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