In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the term “sandbagging” refers to a competitor who is held back in rank or skill division at a tournament in order to win. However, what constitutes sandbagging is very much up for debate.
Paramount BJJ students Mike Thomas and Phil Mento were accused of sandbagging after defeating their opponents to win a NAGA purple belt division. They were both blue belts at the time. The problem with this accusation is that those making it know nothing about Mike and Phil, only the result of those matches on that day.
The fact was Mike had been a blue belt for less than two years, and Phil was promoted to blue belt just 14 months prior to the match. But they- along with the many serious Paramount BJJ students- take their training very seriously, and spend time drilling and analyzing training sessions and matches.
Here are three important things to consider regarding sandbagging:
1. BJJ Competitors and students can be categorized into 4 levels:
- Below Average
- Above Average
- World Class
This applies to blue belt all the way through to black belt. Just because a competitor or student is a world class blue belt does not mean he should be a purple belt, despite the fact that he may beat or even submit some purple belts.
2. Standards vary from school to school as well as instructor to instructor.
What’s interesting about this is that standards also vary from student to student. In other words, a student who does not compete or competes casually and has reached the level of above average blue belt can, perhaps should, be promoted to purple belt.
On the other hand, an above average blue belt who competes and has the goal of winning an IBJJF world title should be kept at blue belt until he/she has reached the level of world class and had the opportunity to achieve that goal.
3. Sandbagging is an excuse made by losers.
Each person should worry only about themselves and improving their skills, rather than using sandbagging as an excuse for a loss. You will never hear a Paramount BJJ competitor complain about his or her opponent sandbagging. We look for top notch competition, because the goal is to improve in order to achieve your ultimate goal (which varies from person to person).
Ultimately, no one can stop sandbagging. So get used to it, stop complaining and train harder.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu