Updated: Nov 10, 2021

There are several different ways to tie your belt. I use the first variation demonstrated in the video below. If you get tired of your belt coming untied during sparring, use the third variation.

The best way to let people know you are new to training in the gi is to tie your belt so that its tails hang vertically instead of horizontally (examples below). The video above will help you avoid that.



Updated: Nov 10, 2021

A couple weeks ago I found out that I was with someone who was asymptomatic, but tested positive for COVID. My thoughts about it flowed as follows:

  • F*ck!

  • I made it through all of 2020 and 8 months of 2021 with no issues and now this happens

  • I'm probably fine

  • Both the person who tested positive and I are fully vaccinated

  • I'll just get tested, see if I'm positive, and let people know if I am

  • I don't want to cause unnecessary concern for the people I was with after I was exposed

  • I had taught class the night before I found out I was exposed

  • Maybe I should wait until I get my test results before freaking them out

  • I don't want to interrupt my schedule unnecessarily, maybe I can just continue with my normal routine and then just let people know if I get a positive result

Then I realized that I was being an idiot and my last several thoughts were stupid and selfish. My teammates and students were counting on me to protect them and their families and they have a right to know if I've been around someone who's tested positive.


Chris, Sean, and I had previously discussed how we'd handle things if someone got COVID, so we already had a plan — I just didn't think I'd be the reason we had to implement the plan. I texted them and let them know. We proceeded to contact everyone who was in class with me and they all scheduled tests. We then cancelled classes for the remainder of the week.


Fortunately, everyone's test came back negative. I remained isolated 10 days after my exposure and tested negative one more time after the 10th day and before returning to the gym.


I share this experience because if you're exposed, I want you to feel comfortable letting me know. Yes, it sucks and it will probably feel like you are screwing up everyone else's training, but that's ok. It's better for us all to miss a few days of training than to potentially risk the lives of our families, friends, and coworkers.


I think I was exposed to someone with COVID, now what?


If you think you may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID and you've trained at Groundworks since your exposure, please call, text, or email the gym and then go get tested. There is a drive through testing center about 5 mins away from the gym at 4480 Jennifer St NW that offers free PCR tests. Click here to book an appointment.


Groundworks requires all members and coaches to be fully vaccinated. However, if you are exposed, you can expect Groundworks to act as follows:

  • Thank you for letting us know you had a COVID exposure

  • Ask you to get tested and let us know your results

  • Ask you whether or not your exposure was a “close contact”

  • The CDC defines a “close contact” as interacting with someone less than 6 feet away with more than 15 min of cumulative exposure in a 24 hour time period

  • Ask you to provide a negative PCR test at least 5 days after exposure before returning to training

  • If you had close contact with the positive person:

  • All members (coaches included) present at class with you will be asked to show a negative PCR test before returning.

  • If you tested positive, you must remain out of class for 10 days per CDC guidelines

  • If all coaches were present, the gym will be closed until one of us tests negative to begin running classes again

  • If you did not have close contact with the positive person:

  • Classes will remain open, but we kindly ask that you go get a PCR test and not come train until your results come back negative

  • If you are positive, we will take the measures listed above

I recognize that COVID is a highly politicized issue and that some people will see our approach as unnecessarily conservative while others will see it as not going far enough. If you are a current or prospective student and you'd like to have a conversation about it, please let me know.


Updated: Sep 28, 2021



In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, belt promotions are subjective — there is no set criteria to earn a belt. This doesn't mean there aren't criteria. If size, strength, and age are equal you should expect more senior belts to be able to consistently submit lower belts. But how do they do it? The answer to that question will give you an idea of the belt criteria and what you should be working on to earn your next belt.

Groundsworks holds belt promotions twice per year. Before belt promotions, instructors will spar with you, tell you what you need to work on over the next 6 months, and tell you whether or not you are getting promoted.

There are only four color belts in Jiu-Jitsu. You may spend several years at each rank, so it's best not to focus too much on getting promoted and instead focus on getting better than you were yesterday, last week, last month, etc.


How each belt rank defeats lower ranked opponents


Blue Belt (Faixa Azul)

Blue Belts understand all of the basic positions in Jiu-Jitsu. They know a couple techniques from each of those positions and can perform them successfully against resisting opponents. Most importantly, Blue Belts have learned how to escape from bad positions. As white belts they spent a lot of time in the bottom position with their opponents mounted, in side control, and in back control. Out of necessity, they learned to defend submissions and escape bad positions. Blue belts beat white belts because they know techniques white belts don't and have a deeper understanding of techniques than white belts do.


Purple Belt (Faixa Roxa)

Purple Belts chain techniques together and attack their opponents in a systematic way so that the opponents' defense leads them into the Purple Belt's next attack. As Blue Belts, they added a lot of techniques to their arsenal and have identified favorite techniques that fit both their body type and personality. While Purple Belts are familiar with all guard and passing styles, they typically specialize in just a few styles. While Blue Belts typically wait for openings to use a technique, Purple Belts beat their opponents by creating those openings.


Brown Belt (Faixa Marrom)

Brown Belts have refined their technique to such a degree that they do not need to rely on their physical attributes (size, strength, speed). Because they rely less on their physical attributes, bigger/faster/stronger opponents are less problematic for them than they are for Purple Belts. If they aren't lifting weights outside the gym, they are usually physically smaller than they were at purple belt because they rarely muscle technique.


Brown belts are very advanced practitioners and are capable of directing much of their own training; they can effectively teach and troubleshoot the their core techniques. They beat Purple Belts by being more efficient and by having a more nuanced understanding of technique.


Importantly, Brown Belts represent the academy and are leaders in our community. When Purple Belts are being considered for promotion to Brown Belt, their character on and off the mat is taken into account. This is not the case for all gyms, but it is for Groundworks.


Black Belt (Faixa Preta)

Black Belts have a deep understanding of all techniques, not just the techniques they use. They are exceptionally good at setups — they recognize that all setups start with the first point of contact, usually a grip, so it's common to see them fight for and insist on getting the grips they want.


As Brown Belts they spent a lot of time refining their game and looking for techniques and adjustments that fill in the gaps in both their defense and offense. They likely spent time teaching and learning how techniques work with different body types and ability levels. Black belts understand the principles behind why techniques work and are capable of troubleshooting techniques and positions they've never seen before. Most importantly Black Belts can teach all of the core techniques of Jiu-Jitsu and can help advanced students level up their games.