In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) the Gauntlet, or in Portuguese “Corredor Polonês” (Polish Corridor) often abbreviated to “Corredor“; is a traditional ritual/initiation process in which the person being initiated is whipped by his fellow training partners, who use their own jiu jitsu belts for the thrashing process.
The gauntlet is often used as a rite of passage when a student is promoted to a new belt, (though not exclusively for this purpose). This part of the belt ceremony has been snubbed by a few well known jiu jitsu figures, including Keith Owen and Caio Terra who in 2015 spoke against the ritual through their social media profiles, hinting to it being a brutal or unnecessary act.
Although this “Polish corridor” is regarded as a traditional jiu jitsu ritual its starting point does not trace back to Brazil, as it was not common practice in any Brazilian academy prior to the mid/late 1990’s. Instead, the BJJ Gauntlet is attributed to Chris Haueter, a member of the Machado Jiu Jitsu Academy during the 90s decade in California and one of the top students of Rigan Machado, being also a member of the first 12 men outside Brazil to earn a black belt in this martial art. According to Haueter himself, when interviewed by BJJ Heroes for this piece:
(…) having returned from some military training, and being kind of young and dumb, I thought we needed some sort of hazing ritual. Many, including some Brazilians, will disagree that it started at the Machado Academy, the brothers were not there as they were filming a movie. For a while, it got out of hand. – Chris Haueter
Haueter’s account of the birth of the Gautlet has been confirmed by different “old schoolers”, including 7th degree coral belt Márcio Stambowski, who acknowledged that this was not part of the jiu jitsu tradition as far back as the 1960s.
BJJ Gauntlet 1
BJJ Gauntlet 2
Sean Roberts Gauntlet @Ralph Gracie Academy (2013)
Carlson Gracie Academy, Camberley (UK) Gautlet (2013)
The Gauntlet in Brazil
Interesting, the short length of belt whipping's history in BJJ would fit with what Carlson Gracie Jr told me, when I interviewed him at a Carlson Gracie London seminar several years ago. Specifically, when I asked him about belt whipping, he said "I think it came in later. I think it was maybe an '80s thing." But entirely possible that he meant '90s, or it was late '80s.