Enson Inoue responds to Jocko, admits he demoted himself to purple belt because of lack of humility

MMA legend Enson Inoue recently opened up about his decision several years ago to demote himself from BJJ black belt to purple belt after returning to training following a long hiatus. Enson Inoue has started training Jiu-Jitsu again in 2016 after taking a 10 year break from the sport. For refrence, he retired from MMA in 2004, with a brief attempt to unretire in 2010. He has since promoted himself back to black belt, and explained his reasoning in a recent podcast.

Willink talked to Inoue’s BJJ instructor John Lewis about the demotion and had words of praise for Inoue.


Enson Inoue recently appeared on a podcast to discuss renowned podcaster Jocko Willink’s comments about Inoue’s past decision to demote himself from BJJ black belt to purple belt. Jocko had praised Inoue’s act of humility, but Inoue clarified that was not his intention at the time.

“John (Lewis) laid it out honestly to me and he said that what he feels is one of the biggest reasons why I did that was lack of humility as a black belt. It was funny because majority of the people that was coming on and praising me, saying it was such a humble thing to do, so much humility. ”

“And I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t agree. I didn’t think – it’s not a humble thing. I’m not being humble. There’s no humility involved in this. ”

Later on he added:

“And for some reason, when I took off my black belt and I went and put on my purple, when I started going to my schools, inspiring, I didn’t have this. When you get into a sparring than you go into your purple belt students guard And as a black belt I felt I wouldn’t flow it jiu jitsu as much.”

“I would use strength and I would resist. And I’ll stop him here and stop him there and prevent him from, you know, stopping me from passing the guard. Or even if I’m in my he’s in my guard, I would start using power and strength. I’m like probably like 30, 40 lbs bigger than most of my students. And I’m using total power to stop them from passing my guard. “


Inoue explained that while rolling with lower belts as a purple belt, he flowed and moved technically instead of relying on strength and resistance. By contrast, as a black belt he would use his size and power to impose his will without technique. Donning the purple belt forced him to let go of ego and arrogance when sparring students of lower BJJ ranks.

So the attempted demotion unintentionally exposed Inoue’s lack of humility as a black belt. Restoring his black belt would rightfully force him to display patience, control, and finesse when training with lower ranking training partners.