Robert Degle Promoted to Black Belt and Immediately Suspended by the IBJJF

It’s been a whirlwind few days for prolific no-gi competitor Robert Degle.

On Tuesday, Degle was awarded his black belt in jiu-jitsu from Renzo Gracie black belt Brandon Bennett. Also a student under John Danaher, the leg lock specialist started competing in IBJJF tournaments earlier this year when the organization changed its ruleset for adult brown and black belt competitors to allow leg reaping and heel hooks. Degle found success, winning the Atlanta Open with two heel hook wins.

Degle’s black belt celebration didn’t last long, though. Shortly after he was promoted, he received a message from the IBJJF informing him that he would not be able to compete in any IBJJF competition again until May 23, 2022.

According to the IBJJF, Degle must be registered as a brown belt for one full year before he can upgrade his competition belt rank to black belt, even though Degle has already been a practicing and competing brown belt for well over a year.

Degle was understandably frustrated but reasonable in his response.

“What an unbelievably stupid system. I would’ve been better off not receiving my black belt until next May so I could have at least done brown belt tournaments. If you wonder why I won’t be doing any IBJJF events for the next 10 months this will be why. 10 months is a long time. I can’t even guarantee this sport will interest me at that point.”

Congratulations to Robert Degle on the promotion! Even if we can’t see him in any IBJJF competition for now, we hope to see him on the mats as a black belt soon.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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