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During his tenure as president, Theodore Roosevelt held a third-degree brown belt in Judo.

I know that in standard ranking systems, a third-degree brown belt is just below Black Belt, and just below an understanding of all the tenets of Judo, but what I don't know is if that was true in the first decade of the 1900's, or in America at that time.

What degree of expertise would a third-degree brown belt indicate for the president?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

A third degree brown belt is the lowest level of brown belt, not the highest, and is thus the furthest from black belt. A black belt does also not denote an understanding of all the tenets of judo.

A third-degree brown belt means that you're not a total novice to the art. Sometimes it means even less.

Teddy Roosevelt was a tough guy who liked many combat sports. He was also a major political figure. When he trained a little jiu-jitsu, someone gave him a minor rank. The practice of giving Presidents rank in martial arts is fairly common and doesn't always reflect anything beyond goodwill. In this case, it probably meant that Teddy could play competently with the judo guys who he trained with.

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According to this document. he was the first brown belt in America.

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