HJJ White Belt Curriculum

First Stripe Public Version

Harris Jiu Jitsu

White Belt, First Stripe, Curriculum – Public Version


I. Lineage

A. Iso Mataemon Masatari (Founder of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu Jujutsu)
B. Kano Jigoro (Founder of Judo)
C. Tsunejiro Tomita
D. Mitsuyo Maeda
E. Carlos Gracie
 (Founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu)
F. Helio Gracie
 (Founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu)
G. Francisco Mansur
H. Joe Moreira
I. Roy Harris

* I believe it is important for all student must know their roots! I also believe they must understand that Jiu Jitsu does not come from Brazil; it comes from Japan. And while the Brazilians have had a profound and positive impact upon the art, the roots of what we call Jiu Jitsu comes from Japan. So, I want all of my students to know their lineage back to – and a little beyond – the instructor of Judo Founder, Kano Jigoro.


II. Rank / Titles

A. Blue belt: Sir / Ma’am
B. Purple / Brown belts: Coach
C. Black belt, 1st and 2nd degrees: Sensei
D. 3rd, 4th and 5th degrees: Professor
E. 6th, 7th and 8th degrees: Master
F. 9th and 10th degrees: Grandmaster

* In addition to knowing their roots, I believe all students should have a foundation in respect, honor, consideration, etiquette and dignity. These are the titles represent the respect each student should give to those who teach them!


III. Proper Mindsets (Becoming A Great Training Partner)

A. Safety and enjoyment for EVERYONE are the first two priorities in training
B. Communicate with your instructors/training partners (i.e. express your thoughts and then listen, don’t just talk)
C. Good personal and environmental hygiene
D. Respect, honor, humility and consideration for your training partners
E. The two roles of training partners

* I believe it is imperative for instructors – and senior students – to teach and demonstrate these mindsets before, during and after class. Additionally, I am convinced this instruction should be emphasized each and every class so that it becomes a part of the academy culture. Why? It should be emphasized so that all who train in Jiu Jitsu can benefit from it!


IV. Fundamental Movements

A. Fundamental movement #1
B. Fundamental movement #5
C. Fundamental movement #11
D. Fundamental movement #14
E. Fundamental movement #16
F. Fundamental movement #22
G. Fundamental movement #25
H. Fundamental movement #58
I. Fundamental movement #59

* Once the mental aspects of Jiu Jitsu have been taught, memorized, prioritize and practiced, it is now time for the students to learn how to move properly. This is the role of fundamental movements. Here is an example:

The bridge is fundamental movement #1. I gave it this rank because it is the most important movement. Why, you ask? It is this important because (a) it is found in 90+% of your positional escapes, (b) 90% of your submissions, (c) it is one of the ways in which you make yourself heavy from the top positions and (d) it is one of five unstoppable movements.

Plus, fundamental movements can be trained on your own – without a training partner!


V. Positions

A. Front mount
B. Back mount
C. Side mount
D. Guard
E. Turtle

* With this first stripe, we are going to focus on these five positions. We will not go into depth on any of these positions, but you will know your way around them fairly well by the time you take your test! Additionally, these five positions represent the five primary positions in Jiu Jitsu, and that is why we will focus on them.


VI. Positioning

A. Positioning #1
B. Positioning #2
C. Positioning #3
D. Positioning #4

* Positioning yourself using these four positions will make your escapes SO MUCH easier. One of the biggest mistakes I see in the teaching of Jiu Jitsu is when instructors have their students begin their escapes from a horrible position. For example, I am going to teach you how to escape from the side mount position.  I have you start your escaping techniques flat on your back. This is the worst thing I can do as an instructor – I know this because I taught this way for many years. So, having learned many lessons the hard way, I no longer teach my students such poor positioning. Instead, I teach them a more efficient way of escaping that looks like this:

#1 – ???
#2 – Positioning

#3 – ???
#4 – ???
#5 – Technique

With this newer method of teaching, my students find it much easier to escape than the older method of beginning every escape from an inferior position AND horrible positioning. So THIS is why positioning is taught at the first stripe level.


VII. Basic Techniques

A. Front mount escapes

1. Technique #1
2. Technique #2
3. Technique #3
4. Technique #4
5. Technique #5
6. Technique #6

B. Side-mount escapes

1. Technique #1
2. Technique #2
3. Technique #3

C. Throws and takedowns

1. Technique #1
2. Technique #2
3. Technique #3
4. Technique #4

D. Sweeps

1. Technique #1
2. Technique #2

E. Submissions

1. Technique #1
2. Technique #2
3. Technique #3
4. Technique #4

F. Self-defense

1. Defense against a jab
2. Defense against a cross
3. Defense against a haymaker punch
4. Offense #1
5. Offense #2
6. Offense #3

* While there are only twenty-five technique required for this exam, it is enough to keep a serious student busy training for 150 to 160 hours. And for the brown or black belt instructor, it is enough information to study, memorize, develop and polish for ten to twelve hours of dedicated training!


VIII. Preparating For The Exam

A. Mindsets

1. Become a great training partner FIRST (i.e. Be safe, humble, disciplined and enjoyable to practice, drill and spar with).
2. Focus on attention to detail. It is a VERY important quality to harness at this stage of your training.
3. Come test time, I want you to be CONFIDENT in your knowledge and abilities with this material. In other words, knowing the techniques WILL NOT be enough for you to pass this exam. I need to be convinced that you have (a) paid attention to detail, (b) know the material thoroughly and (c) have put in the appropriate amount of time to become confident with the material.

B. Training

1. Your primary training method.
2. Your secondary training method.
3. Your tertiary training method.
4. Your fourth and final training method:

a. Part 1
b. Part 2
c. Part 3
d. Part 4
e. Part 5
f. Part 6
g. Part 7
h. Part 8
i. Part 9
j. Part 10
k. Part 11
l. Part 12
m. Part 13
n. Part 14
o. Part 15
p. Part 16
q. Part 17
r. Part 18

* From my perspective, testing is not so much about the student “knowing” a specific amount of techniques. Rather, it’s about them taking the time to ensure you develop specific skill sets. Also, these tests ensure that I don’t play favorites. Either the student meet the stated standard or they don’t.

I have had standardized testing for my students since I became a black belt in January of 1998. I believed in them back then and I continue to believe in them now. Why do I believe in them? I believe in them because I think it is a shame for brown and black belts to compete in tournaments – whether they are gi, no gi or MMA competitions – and then struggle to perform basic escapes from the front mount, back mount or side mount positions. Granted, I understand it can be difficult to escape from these positions against another brown belt who just so happens to be a phenom at using the position. However, when I see “Brown Belt A” use the front mount  position on “Brown Belt B”, and “Brown Belt A” uses mediocre positioning and control to control “Brown Belt B”, and then “Brown Belt B” flails with his legs and his arms are out of posture, I think that shows two things:

1. Brown Belt B’s coach did not push his student very hard.
2. Brown Belt B has not made himself vulnerable in many months or years.

So, I have standardized tests at each belt level to ensure my higher belts get tested from every conceivable position. This is one reason why my black belt tests are nearly four hours long. The black belt has to escape, control and teach from all ten positions.

What you’ve read thus far is the public version of the test. There are two other versions of this document: (1) The student’s version and (2) the instructor’s version.

By viewing this document, I hope I’ve given you a good idea of the kinds of things I will be looking for on a student’s first test. Granted, the test will be challenging but it will also be rewarding.

Also, each belt test for each stripe builds upon the previous exam. So with each exam, there will be more information to learn and more skills to develop.

I hope this article has been enlightening!

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

P.S. If you have questions or comments about this video, please feel free to email me here!

Copyright © 2015  Roy Harris. All Rights Reserved.