How does your school handle baby white belts?

No, no! Not THIS kind of baby! I meant “baby” as in “new”!

I was scouting out BJJ academies to visit during my vacation home and I came across Cassio Werneck’s gym. More specifically, I came across their school guidelines and read something interesting:

The white belt stripe rules break down as follows:
0 & 1 stripe:

Only permitted to train with blue belts or above.
2, 3 & 4 stripes:

Can train with anyone two or more stripes.

This made perfect sense to me. Absolute beginners are a lot of struggle and no finish, and they’re the ones most likely to hurt you and themselves. Stick two absolute beginners together and that’s a formula for bad.

My gym does not have any policy like this, but our instructor assigns sparring partners during class. Our class typically runs for an hour and then there’s a half an hour open mat. During that open mat, anyone can spar with anyone.

I find myself a bit afraid of big guys who have no stripes on their white belts. Little tiny guys, like the 15 year old skinny boy in our class, that’s okay. New people (even me) use strength and don’t always know how to control their bodies. I can deal with a kid who weighs 90 pounds and whose waist is smaller than my thigh, but a big, muscular dude who can bench press me with one hand? Those guys scare me. At first I didn’t know to be afraid of them. After all, here’s one of the guys I sparred with my very first day:

Okay, he’s not REALLY an orange belt. He’s a blue belt who FORGOT HIS BELT! ^_^

Eddie is a big dude, but he knew how to control his body. I was never injured with him. I trusted his skills.

So what does your school do with newbie white belts? Can they spar with anyone? Who is usually put with the brand new people during their first roll? Are there “standard” people to help break them in?