About Testing

  • Overview
  • The Three Questions
  • Bruce's Journey

Welcome to the Gracie University online Testing Center. For the first time ever, you can learn Gracie Jiu-Jitsu from anywhere in the world and get specific feedback on your progress via our revolutionary Video Evaluation Process!

Once you have mastered all the techniques in a learning module, you will have the opportunity to digitally record yourself performing specific techniques and drills with your training partner. These videos will be uploaded in the Testing Center for evaluation by Gracie University senior instructors. Multiple instructors will provide detailed, time-coded feedback on your performance, so you know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you can adjust your training habits accordingly. If, upon completing the Gracie Combatives beginner program, your techniques and reflexes meet Gracie University standards, you will have the opportunity to earn a Gracie Combatives belt through the Video Evaluation Process or via live testing at a Certified Training Center. To watch an important video featuring Rickson Gracie and Pedro Sauer along with Ryron and Rener, in which they discuss the future of jiu-jitsu and the importance of the Gracie Combatives program, click on the video below.

It should be noted that even though Gracie University will provide a complete training path for dedicated at-home students, from white to black belt, in order to maintain the integrity of the Gracie University belt system, all official belt promotions, from blue to black, can only be earned via live testing at a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Certified Training Centers. To learn more about the Gracie University belt system and the testing processes, explore the various tabs in the Testing Center. If you're one of those people who don't believe that at-home learning is possible, click on the video below and watch what happened when a full-time Gracie University student, Scott Butler, traveled thousands of miles to test himself in live sparring with regular students at the Gracie University Headquarters!

The Gracie University Belt System
In the beginning, there were no tournaments associated with the practice of Gracie (Brazilian) Jiu-Jitsu. The dangerous and unforgiving “street” fight was the only testing ground. In 1967, the first Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was established in order to give practitioners the opportunity to test their skills in a safe setting. The fun and excitement of competition, coupled with the prestige that accompanied tournament victories, drove the vast majority of instructors to focus entirely on preparing their students for the jiu-jitsu game. This shift away from jiu-jitsu for self-defense had a profound impact on the practice of the martial art.

The Philosophical Difference
While nearly all Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools have succumbed to the lure of tournament glory, Gracie University remained true to the practice of techniques that would work in a real fight. The Gracie University training objective was, and remains to this day, to enable practitioners to defeat an all-out attack from a larger and more athletic opponent. In comparison, the sport jiu-jitsu objective is to win against an opponent of similar size in a closely-monitored and controlled match. The fundamental philosophical difference between street self-defense and tournament competition affects all aspects of jiu-jitsu training and mindset.

To watch Ryron and Rener demonstrate the primary differences between “Street” and “Sport” jiu-jitsu, click on the video link below.

The Technical Difference
Several hundred techniques will work both in a tournament match or a street fight. But, the complete Gracie Jiu-Jitsu curriculum also contains many techniques that were developed exclusively for street fight scenarios with no applicability in competition. The problem is that most Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools have totally eliminated the “street only” techniques from their programs in order to allow more training time for techniques that will lead to victory under the point-based system, rules, and weight classes of sport jiu-jitsu tournaments. This technical difference between the Gracie University curriculum and other Brazilian jiu-jitsu programs reflects the philosophical difference between street self-defense and sport competition and carries over to the award of belts as measures of proficiency in the system.

The Belt Difference
The Gracie University belt system is distinct from that of sport-oriented schools. Sport-oriented schools promote students based exclusively on their mastery of techniques that will lead to victory in a tournament setting. In most cases, sport belt holders are very comfortable in sport jiu-jitsu matches and controlled sparring sessions. However, when confronted by a larger and more athletic opponent who doesn’t play by the rules, they are often shaken by the unpredictable, violent attack and find themselves unable to respond.

At Gracie University, belt promotions are based, first and foremost, on the student's mastery of the techniques that will ensure victory in a street fight. The beginner curriculum, Gracie Combatives, is entirely dedicated to instilling each student with an essential “street fight filter” comprised of distance management, energy efficiency, and natural body movements. Once a student learns the fundamental techniques and truly owns these core principles, they are awarded a Gracie Combatives belt. As a student advances through the rest of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu curriculum, their “street fight filter” is continuously tested at increasing levels of intensity all the way to black belt.

In order to access the Testing Center, view the detailed belt qualification requirements, and use the Video Evaluation Process, you will need to log in to your GU student profile. If you are a not a GU student, please click here to sign up for free.

1. What if I already train at a sport BJJ school?
If there is not a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Certified Training Center in your community and you currently train at a sport oriented BJJ school, don’t stop. There is much to gain from training in sport jiu-jitsu, such as exercise, coordination, fun, and camaraderie, not to mention the fact that some of what you learn may be applicable in a real fight. You must, however, be cognizant of the fact that you are almost certainly developing reflexes that will be disastrously counterproductive in a real fight. Once you are aware of this, we recommend that you use your access to the Gracie University curriculum to learn the techniques in their purest form, consciously undo any bad habits you have developed, and begin building the reflexes that you will sharpen your “street fight filter” to ensure victory in a real fight.

2. If I am a sport BJJ belt holder, will Gracie University recognize my rank?
If you have achieved rank in Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from any school that is not accredited by Gracie University, your belt color will be recognized in the Gracie University student database, but it will be tagged as “unverified." In order to officially recognize your rank, we must verify your knowledge of the street applicable techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and the only way to do this is for you to demonstrate proficiency in the Gracie Combatives techniques by passing the Gracie Combatives belt test. In other words, if you were awarded a purple belt by a BJJ instructor, and you pass the official Gracie Combatives test, then Ryron and Rener would consider assessing your skills to see if your purple belt can be formally recognized by Gracie University. Bottom line: without the street readiness, nothing matters.

3. Can I jump straight to the tests if I know the techniques?
Absolutely. If you were promoted by a legitimate source and are confident in the street applicability of your techniques, you are invited to jump straight to the tests without completing the lessons. But, if upon viewing the belt testing requirements/demonstration videos, you are not 100% confident in your ability to execute all the required techniques and drills instinctively, we recommend you dedicate yourself to completing the entire curriculum in the prescribed sequence before taking the test. Remember, the belt should be a result of your training, not the reason for it.

Bruce Banner

Bruce Porcelli is a Senior Network Engineer from Long Island, New York, who became fascinated with jiu-jitsu after witnessing its effectiveness in the early UFCs. After trying out a few BJJ schools, he became frustrated with the lack of curriculum structure and disproportionate emphasis on sport jiu-jitsu instead of self-defense. Just before he gave up on jiu-jitsu altogether, he learned about the Gracie Bullyproof program (he wanted to teach his daughter), which in turn led him to discover the Gracie Combatives program, and he never looked back!

Gracie Combatives Test - 2013
In the very beginning of his Gracie Combatives journey, Bruce would still attend classes at his neighborhood BJJ school. In fact, that’s where he recruited training partners to complete the Gracie Combatives program with him. Juggling his full time job, his family, and his jiu-jitsu practice, he finally submitted and passed his Gracie Combatives Test (formerly the Blue Belt Test) on September 12, 2013.

Here is what Bruce had to say about the Gracie Combatives journey:

“Before I learned Gracie Combatives, I was ready to quit BJJ because even though I had bounced around to several BJJ schools, I never felt that what I was learning would adequately prepare me for a real street fight. Gracie Combatives changed everything for me. It was everything I imagined jiu-jitsu could be, and the fact that it was organized in such a clear linear format made it so easy to learn.”

Blue Belt Stripe 1 Test – 2015
As soon as he completed Gracie Combatives, Bruce established a Gracie Garage to recruit training partners, and then he jumped head first into the Master Cycle curriculum. Less than two years after passing his Gracie Combatives test, Bruce passed his BBS1 test.

He appreciated the fact that the linear curriculum structure didn’t end in Gracie Combatives:

“I wasn’t sure what to expect in the BBS1 curriculum, but was ecstatic to see that not only did the BBS1 curriculum teach me all the counters to the Gracie Combatives techniques, it followed the same linear structure that I had fallen in love with in the beginner program. By the time I took my BBS1 test, the pieces of the jiu-jitsu puzzle really started to come together.”

Blue Belt Stripe 2 Test - 2016
Bruce wasted no time moving on to the next segment of the curriculum, and just over seven months after earning his BBS1 stripe, he passed his BBS2 test.

At this point Bruce started to recognize the universal principles that hold it all together:

“Now that I’ve completed the BBS2 curriculum, it’s becoming clear that even though there are hundreds of techniques in jiu-jitsu, there are only a handful of principles that make everything work. The more techniques I learn, the clearer it becomes that it’s these universal principles that I need to master.”

Blue Belt Stripe 3 Test - 2017
Bruce’s career required him to move to Orlando, but he quickly linked up with other Gracie Garages in the area and was able to continue his training. Just over a year after his BBS2 test, Bruce passed the BBS3 test in flying colors!

This is when Bruce realized that he was learning much more than self-defense:

“At this point it’s clear to me that Ryron and Rener have been teaching me much more than techniques. Through the Rapid Mastery Drills and Focus Sparring sessions, they’ve shaped my mindset on how to approach jiu-jitsu, they’ve taught me how to use any training partner to create the perfect growth opportunities, and most importantly, they’ve taught me how to train in a safe and sustainable manner so that I can enjoy jiu-jitsu for the rest of my life.”

Blue Belt Stripe 4 Test - 2018
By the time he completed BBS3, Bruce had truly found his way in the Gracie University curriculum, and there wasn’t anything that would stop his progress. Less than 12 months later he passed his BBS4 test and in doing so he joined an elite group of students to complete BBS1 through BBS4 in less than 3 years!

Bruce no longer does jiu-jitsu, he is jiu-jitsu:

“Completing BBS4 was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Up until this point I was learning jiu-jitsu, but upon completing BBS4 I realized that I am jiu-jitsu. Ryron and Rener have developed me into a jiu-jitsu scientist, and even though learning online was challenging at times, I feel like the challenges ultimately made me the martial artist I am today. I couldn’t imagine learning jiu-jitsu in any other way.”

Instructor Certification Program – 2018
Ever since he started Gracie Combatives, Bruce’s dream was to teach Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. In 2018, he applied for the Instructor Certification Program (ICP) and was accepted. He successfully completed the program and was awarded his Instructor Certification and his Purple Belt on the same day! Today, Bruce owns a Certified Training Center in Long Island, New York and is living the jiu-jitsu dream.

When asked about his ICP experience, here is what Bruce had to say:

“Having experienced first-hand the difference between regular BJJ and the Gracie University curriculum, I decided that I wanted to go through the ICP (Instructor Certification Program) so that I could impact others the same way that the Gracies impacted me. The process was demanding, but could not have been more well organized. The fact that I was able to learn the bulk of the instructor material online from home, before heading out to California for the live evaluation, was perfect for me considering my full-time job and family obligations. Between the in-depth instructor video lessons and the accompanying literature, Ryron and Rener have created the perfect system to create amazing jiu-jitsu instructors. Even though I’m not a black belt, the ICP has given me the confidence to open my own CTC in New York, and seeing the growth in my students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

When the actor, Kevin James, became intrigued by the linear structure and the self-defense emphasis of the Gracie University online curriculum, he reached out to Gracie University Headquarters to inquire about doing private sessions in his home in Long Island. Rener immediately reached out to Bruce and made the connection, and they’ve been training together ever since!

Bruce and Kevin