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BJJ Belt Progression Full Guide Explained

Jiu Jitsu Belts Explained

Jiu Jitsu belts signify a person’s rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Your rank in Jiu Jitsu depends on your ability to demonstrate your knowledge and perform the necessary techniques and skills for your level of proficiency.

The first rank in jiu-jitsu is the white belt, and the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) requires no minimum amount of time to be a white belter. 

Then, after about 2-3 years of training, you will earn yourself a blue belt. Next, approximately 4-6 years of training under you to reward yourself with a purple belt and then another year for a brown belt.

The IBJJF then requires three years as a black belt to go to the next black belt rank and finally get to the red belt.

Rener Gracie estimates that just 10% of new BJJ students will earn a blue belt, and even more interesting is that only 1% of that 10% will acquire a black belt.

Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, really introduced the belting system to his Kodokan martial arts school in 1882. Kano was influenced by Japanese high school swimmers who wore black ribbons around their waists to signify their advanced level.

Jiu Jitsu Belts in Order

Jiu Jitsu has its own unique belt progression that sets it apart from the systems used by other martial arts to demonstrate and rank a practitioner’s proficiency in techniques, knowledge, and form.

There is no shortcut to becoming an expert in this combat style; rather, it demands years of practice like other martial arts. To progress in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, students must earn a new belt color at each training milestone.

There are five belt levels: white, blue, purple, brown, black, and red. White represents the beginner level in Jiu Jitsu, followed by blue, purple, brown, black, and finally red for advanced students and professionals. There is a specific meaning behind each belt level as students advance through the ranks.

What Does a Stripe in Jiu Jitsu Mean?

Professors utilize stripes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belts to signify a student’s belt rank. More stripes indicate a higher proficiency level.  Each belt, from white to brown, can have four stripes before being promoted to the next belt rank.

On the other hand, degrees are also stripes but on a higher scale. A black belt can have up to 6 degree’s on it. After the 6th degree, a new belt is given for each degree: a red/black coral belt for the 7th degree, a red/white coral belt for the 8th degree, and a red belt for the 9th and 10th degrees.

However, the 10th degree (currently) has only been given to the pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

BJJ White Belt

All students start at the white belt, the lowest belt level. This stage necessitates a focus on learning the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu, including the basics of technique and strategy. Students also need to show they can behave courteously and respectably around their professors and classmates.

Unlike other martial arts organizations, the IBJJF does not have a strict time requirement for earning a white belt. White belts can advance to higher ranks at any time at the discretion of their instructor because there is no time in grade.

BJJ Blue Belt

At this stage, you should have a firmer grasp of jiu-jitsu techniques and a honed ability to apply them in real-world training scenarios. A blue belt should have strong interpersonal skills and be able to properly communicate with instructors and fellow students.

Ultimately, the blue belt is the most prevalent rank in jiu-jitsu. It can take as long as four years for a consistent blue belt to advance to the next level.

In contrast, some blue belts enjoy a very speedy promotion to purple within a couple of years. Either owing to intense dedication or a more informal academy.

BJJ Purple Belt

Many martial artists consider the purple belt level to mark the halfway point between novice and master. Obtaining a purple belt in jiu-jitsu is widely recognized as the halfway point in a student’s training and is a testament to the student’s dedication to the art form throughout the course of a major chunk of their adult life.

A high level of technical knowledge and expertise, as well as the regular application of these approaches in live training and competition, are prerequisites at this level. Purple belts should also be strong leaders, able to help and mentor trainees at lower belt levels.

BJJ Brown Belt

For many schools, a brown belt is basically a black belt, but a few needed polishing. A practitioner with a brown belt has developed enough self-awareness to begin formulating sophisticated and effective strategies for themselves and other practitioners in training and competition.

Anyone who has trained jiu-jitsu for long enough to obtain a brown belt should have the knowledge and self-control to teach a beginner’s class.

BJJ Black Belt

Most jiu-jitsu students strive for the prestigious black belt, as is the case in other martial arts. Although there is a higher rank in jiu-jitsu, black belts are generally considered to be the instructors and leaders of the art.

When a martial artist achieves the rank of black belt, it usually means they have trained for at least a decade or two to earn that respect. The black belt is both the culmination of one’s training and the beginning of another’s.

BJJ Red Belt

Once a practitioner earns a coral belt, they have demonstrated that they are as close to a master of jiu-jitsu as it is possible to get. Even though no one can ever know every nuance of every technique, a red belt has devoted their entire life to the sport and deserves respect for that.

When martial artist reaches the red belt level, they are expected to put less emphasis on their individual development and more on contributing to the success of those around them and the community at large. It’s the pinnacle of Jiu-Jitsu and deserves all the awe and responsibility that come with it.

BJJ Belt Progression Timeline Youth

For kids under 15 years old, this is recommended progression of belt levels should look like this:

  • white,
  • grey/white,
  • solid grey,
  • grey/black,
  • yellow/white,
  • solid yellow,
  • yellow/black,
  • orange/white,
  • solid orange,
  • orange/black,
  • green/white,
  • solid green,
  • green/black.

There are five tiers to a belt: the belt itself, plus four stripes. You can earn these stripes in a variety of ways, including time, behavior, Jiu-Jitsu expertise, and competition performance.

The white belt is considered the beginner level.

  • The group of three grey belts is for children aged 4 through 15 years old.
  • The group of three yellow belts is for children 7 through 15 years old.
  • The group of orange belts is for children 10 through 15 years old.
  • The group of three green belts is for children 13 through 15 years old.  

When a kid reaches the age of 16, they need to start using the adult belt system. White belts don’t move up in rank while others may. For instance, belt colors can change from grey, yellow, or orange to white or blue at the discretion of the coach.

When it comes to those with a green belt, the coach will also decide whether or not it will be upgraded to a white, blue, or purple belt.

How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt

  • Hold your belt in both hands and place it flat against your belly.
  • Pull the belt tight around your body as you cross the sides in the back. 
  • Pull both ends of the belt back in front of you.
  • Cross the right-hand belt over the left-hand belt.
  • Feed the side of the belt on top underneath all the layers.
  • Loop the bottom belt in your right hand around the other belt.

BJJ Belt Ranks Conclusion

As can be seen, the BJJ belt system is highly nuanced. The Jiu-Jitsu belt system can be perplexing to outsiders, yet it clearly reflects the years of training and dedication required to advance through the ranks.

Learning BJJ is different from learning other martial arts like Muay Thai or Kung Fu in that it takes a lot more time and practice.

It’s true that BJJ can be a lot of work, but for those who commit to it, the benefits are well worth it. We hope you have a lot of success on your own path to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

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