BJJ White Belt Stripes Explained
Wondering how long does it take to get your first stripe in BJJ?
On average, with consistent training, it takes 2-6 months to receive your first stripe in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Similar to other martial arts, BJJ relies on belt color and stripes or degrees to identify ranks. Stripes, indicate your progression through your belt rank. I remeber I got my first stripe ~ 4 months of training (…after many hours of being collar choked).
We have a created the below graph on when bjj practitioners received their first stripe compiled from a survey of answers from over half a dozen posts on reddit and almost 40 responses:
From these surveyed results we can see a couple things:
- there’s a high variance which is soley depending on your gym and coaches
- most people can expect to achieve their first stripe in 2-6 months (with consistent training of course)
- of all the people surveyed, majority of them received their first stripe at six months
Achieving your First Stripe in BJJ – Key Takeaways
- you can expect your first stripe in bjj at about 2-6 months
- this will depend on your gym and how often they give stripes and how structure it is
- some gyms may even give out more than 1 stripe at once if they feel you are at that level
- Also some gyms may not even give stripes out and only belts
- if you’re athletic or have a background in sports or other martial arts you can expect to get your first stripe sooner
- we have included tips to getting your first stripe sooner below but really all you have to do is keep showing up! (the first and second stripe aren’t really used as a measurement of skill)
How long does it take to get your first BJJ stripe?
If you are consistent in training, then you can earn your first stripe in 3 to 6 months. However, this will still vary depending on several factors.
Let us say that you have been training for 3-6 months already, but the consistency of how much you show up weekly also matters. If you are not consistent, you will likely forget techiques you’ve already learned and be unable to properly add in new techniques in your bjj tool kit.
Although some people can get it faster than others because they may have a background in a different sport or another grappling based martial art like wrestling, sambo, or judo.
For your first stripe you don’t have to show mastery of fundaments, you just have to:
- be consistent
- be willing to learn
- focus on understanding main concetps
No, you do not have to be a master at these techniques and skills. What is highly important is that you understand the concept or at least be able to try and execute what you want to do.
There is no pressure though! Progress is progress. What matters is you keep showing up to learn. Things do not happen overnight and it takes hard work and dedication to achieve your goals.
Factors affecting the timeline
The time it takes to get your first stripe in BJJ can vary based on several factors, including
- your athletic background
- learning ability
- training frequency
- the criteria used by your instructor
Again, on average, most beginners can expect to receive their first stripe at ~2-6 months of consistent training of 2-4 times a week.
How many classes before the first stripe BJJ?
The average number of classes needed to earn your first stripe in BJJ varies based on individual progress and factors such as training frequency and gym criteria. However, it is generally accepted that attending around 24-72 classes or training consistently for 3-6 months should be sufficient to earn your first stripe.
Importance of consistency in training
Consistency in training is essential for both skill development and understanding BJJ’s fundamental principles. Maintaining a regular training schedule allows you to build muscle memory, improve your technique, and demonstrate your commitment to the art.
Try to pick a set training days each week and if you miss one of those planned sessions make it a point to show up to the very next day’s training.
Getting Your First White Belt Stripe In One Year
Factors that may slow down progress
If it takes you a year to earn your first stripe, several factors may have contributed to the slower progress, such as inconsistent training, lack of focus on fundamentals, or personal circumstances that limited your ability to train frequently.
Getting Your First Stripe In Six Months Or Less
Factors that may speed up progress
Some individuals may earn their first stripe in BJJ within six months or even less.
Factors That Speed Up Your Progress in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Regular and Consistent Training: Committing to a consistent training schedule helps build muscle memory, retain techniques, and develop a strong foundation.
- Goal Setting: Establishing specific, measurable, and attainable goals helps you stay focused, motivated, and track your progress.
- Cross-Training: Incorporating other sports and physical activities can enhance your overall athleticism, strength, flexibility, and endurance, which can positively impact your BJJ performance.
- Embracing Feedback: Actively seeking feedback from your coaches and training partners allows you to identify areas for improvement and accelerate your growth.
- Focusing on Fundamentals: Developing a strong grasp of fundamental techniques ensures a solid foundation for more advanced techniques.
Tips to getting your first stripe faster
To accelerate your progress towards your first stripe, here are some tips.
These types can be used throughout your bjj journey and have personally helped me improve much faster:
- Focus on your breath and staying calm during sparring
- Set small goals for each class (like hit a specific sweep or practice a specific escape)
- Focus on one or two techniques/positions and build off of them
- Don’t worry about learning and retaining everything
- Consider using a bjj journal
- Try to learn outside of class with instructionals or drilling with a friend or partner
How Long to Get Second Stripe in BJJ?
If you have earned your first stripe in BJJ, know that it will most likely take 6-12 months to achieve your second stripe.
Here are some of the factors that should be put into consideration:
- Training – Yes, one of the most important things being looked at is how much time you spend on the mats learning about the sport.
- Skills – Aside from training, your skills and progress will be looked upon by your coach or professor. There are some things that your professor or coach is looking at. Moreover, this can be evident during the open mats or rolling sessions with your teammates.
- School – Each and every BJJ school is different. Some may require certain moves or skills to be accomplished before you get promoted. Others rely on the skills that you currently have and how much time you have spent on the mats.
How long does it take to get 3 stripes in BJJ?
As you continue to get more stripes on your belt, the time will vary widely gym to gym.
While with most gyms you can expect to get youer 3rd stripe at ~1.5 years of consistent training.
If your gym doesn’t follow the more traditional method, they may award more than 1 stripe at once.
How Often Should You Get a Stripe in BJJ?
There is no definite time table as to when you get a stripe in BJJ. Truth be told, this will depend on several things like:
- How consistent you are in showing up to class
- Skill set that you currently improving and learning
But if you are consistent in training and improving, it can be as often as 3 to 6 months.
One thing to note is do not be lazy! If you want that stripe to come in as often, then work hard to earn it.
How Many Stripes Are There Before Blue Belt?
You will start with a plain white belt once you step on the mats. From here, you will have to achieve 4 stripes in order to gain a blue belt. Some people can receive one, or two stripes during the promotion. This though, will depend on your progress on the mats.
BJJ Progression timeline
How Long Does it Take to Progress in BJJ?
Check out the photo below showing the average years spent of an individual in a certain rank before getting promoted. Remeber these are average years and can vary widely.
What you have to keep in mind is that there are always things being looked at for each individual in order to get promoted faster. Here are some of the things to consider:
- White Belt – Being able to escape in different positions and knowledge about the fundamentals and principles of BJJ.
- Blue Belt – Knowledge and skill set of different attacks. This means, there is understanding of the technicalities of jiu jitsu.
- Purple Belt – Chain of attacks to counter defenses of the opponent is expected at this rank.
- Brown Belt – Knowledge of the sport and being able to think 2 to 3 moves ahead of the opponent.
- Black Belt – Living embodiment of what jiu jitsu is all about on and off the mats. Moreover, able to teach, guide and spread BJJ to everyone as a movement philosophy.
Trust me, the most important thing is to show up. Show up to learn and improve your skills and knowledge about Jiu Jitsu.
How fast can you rank up in Jiu-Jitsu?
Well, the reason behind this is that these people have a background or some of the fundamentals of BJJ in their arsenal. This is due to the fact that some movements and attacks are similar.
Aside from that, if you win competitions and show immense progress on the mats then you can level up faster. Why? Well, you brought honor to the school and have competed against someone who most likely has the same skill set as you and yet won.
How long does it take to progress in BJJ?
Belt progression timeline
Belt progression in BJJ is a long-term commitment, with each belt level typically taking several years to achieve.
It can take around 8-12 years or more to reach black belt status, depending on the individual’s dedication and consistency as well as athletic ability and martial arts experience.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu?
Achieving a black belt in BJJ can take anywhere from 8-12 years, on average.
This timeline is heavily influenced by factors such as consistency in training, athletic ability, prior experience, and the gym’s promotion criteria.
Black belt promotion is based on a combination of technical proficiency, teaching ability, and personal growth within the art. It is essential to remember that the journey to black belt is unique for each individual, and focusing on personal growth and skill development is more important than the belt itself.
What do you need to know to get your first stripe in BJJ?
Fundamental techniques and principles – Requirements for your first stripe
Specific requirements for your first stripe may vary depending on your gym and instructor, but generally, you should have a solid understanding of the basic techniques, attend classes regularly, and exhibit discipline and respect for the art and your training partners.
Aside from showing up to train consistently. There are other requirements to get your first stripe.
Just like any martial arts, the beginner stage is when you learn about the foundations and principles of the sport. These things are the ones that will go along with you until you reach the final stage or mastership of the sport.
Hence, in order to get your BJJ first stripe, here are some of the things that are most likely expected of you by your school or gym:
- Basic movements namely:
- Familiarity with controlling positions such as:
- Knowledge about attacks like:
- Others like:
-Basic sweeps and take down
-Familiarity with BJJ terms and body anatomy
-Improved fitness strength
-Increased muscle or weight loss
A Short History of BJJ Stripes
History of Stripes and Belt System in BJJ
Here is a timeline of how the BJJ belt system evolved over time (with strong influences from Judo):
- 1882 – Kigoro Kano introduced the belt system in Judo. His inspiration were actually swimmers who are wearing black ribbons on their waist to indicate that they are advanced level. Hence, at the Kudokan, white belts are classified as beginners while black are those who mastered Judo techniques already.
- 1952 – Gracie brothers Helio and Carlos started to apply the belt system in Gracie Jiu Jitsu based on instructorship. What this means is that, white belts are the accomplished practitioners who did not pursue instructor diplomas in BJJ. Now, if the instructorship was pursued and accomplished, a light blue belt is provided. From here, they will become professors who are given a dark blue belt. Therefore, no black belts existed at this time.
- 1967 – Gracie Jiu Jitsu introduced the bar system to make BJJ belts distinguishable from other martial arts. From here, black belt students with white bars means they did not pursue teaching the sport. But if they are black belts with red bars with white borders then they are BJJ professors.
Origin of the stripe system
The stripe system in BJJ originated from Judo, where practitioners were awarded stripes to demonstrate progress within a belt rank. This tradition was carried over into BJJ as it developed into a separate martial art, providing a way to recognize and reward students’ progress within their belt levels.
How are Stripes Awarded in BJJ?
How Are Stripes Given in BJJ?
Each and every BJJ school has their own way of giving stripes to their students. Aside from that, there are even schools like 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu who do not provide stripes but promote their students on to the next rank if they are ready.
But typically, these are how stripes are given in most schools:
- Coach or professor announces that they will be giving stripes that day. This is usually at the end of training after the open mats session.
- Your name will be announced if you are getting a stripe.
- From here, your coach will reach out to your belt and provide you with another stripe using finger tapes or athletic tape.
- Personally, I like shaking my coach’s hand as a sign of respect and gratitude.
- Time to get that photo taken! (Not a requirement, but a good way to commemorate the milestone)
Who Can Award Stripes
The criteria for awarding stripes in BJJ can vary between gyms and instructors, but typically, they are given based on factors such as technical proficiency, understanding of techniques, training frequency, and the student’s attitude and commitment to the art.
Generally, the head instructor of a gym will be the one to award strips. However, it is not uncommon for other coaches to award stripes to students with the head coach’s approval.
Additionally, kids classes instructors are able to award kids stripes and belts to their students. The instructor awarding stripes and belts to their students must be done with the approval of the head instructor, and they must be of the purple belt level.
Ultimately, the decision to award a stripe is at the instructor’s discretion. They will consider factors such as the student’s skill level, progress, and dedication to determine when a stripe should be awarded.
Since, unlike Judo, there is no standard for Brazilian jiu jitsu. Awarding stripes and belts to students is entirely up to the head instructors discretion.
What Does A Stripe Mean In Jiu-Jitsu?
Significance of a stripe
A stripe in BJJ represents progress within a belt level, showing that the student has improved in their understanding of techniques and principles.
It serves as a milestone in the student’s journey and motivates them to continue working towards the next belt level.
It can also be used as a form of motivation to keep training hard since we all know that in the beginning off bjj you can use all the motivation you can get!
Stripes can be viewed as progress markers, allowing students to gauge their development within a belt level. They help to break down the often lengthy process of earning a new belt into smaller, more achievable goals.
While stripes are not a scientific measurement of your skill, it is a decent gauge of where your understanding is at. However, it is not uncommon for those with less stripes to submit somone with more stripes of the same belt.
This also applies to belt levels. It is not uncommon for a a lower level belt to submit or beat a higher belt in training. For example, its not all too rare for a blue belt to submit a purple belt every now and then.
How To Know You Are Getting Close To Your First Stripe On Your White Belt
Signs of progress
Signs that you are getting close to earning your first stripe may include an increased understanding of fundamental techniques, improved ability to execute those techniques, and a growing sense of comfort and confidence on the mat.
Signs That You Are Improving at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Enhanced Technique Retention: As you progress, you will be able to remember and execute techniques more effectively.
- Improved Defense and Escapes: Your ability to defend against submissions and escape from unfavorable positions will improve.
- Better Positional Control: You will become more skilled at controlling your opponents and maintaining dominant positions.
- Increased Stamina and Endurance: Your physical conditioning will improve, allowing you to train harder and longer without getting exhausted.
- Greater Confidence and Self-Awareness: As your skills develop, you will become more confident in your abilities and aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
Importance of focusing on technique mastery
It is essential to focus on mastering the fundamental techniques rather than solely chasing after a promotion. Demonstrating a solid understanding of the basics will naturally lead to progression and the eventual awarding of a stripe.
Don’t Focus On Getting Your First Stripe
Importance of focusing on personal progress
It is crucial to focus on your personal progress and development in BJJ, rather than obsessing over receiving your first stripe. Improvement in technique and understanding of the art should be the primary goals in your journey.
The danger of obsessing over promotions
Obsessing over promotions can lead to a narrow-minded focus on achieving the next rank, potentially neglecting the broader aspects of BJJ, such as personal growth, camaraderie, and the enjoyment of the art.
Focusing solely on achieving a new belt or stripe can hinder your progress and enjoyment of BJJ.
This mindset can lead to ego-driven training, impatience, and a lack of focus on personal growth. Instead, concentrate on learning, improving, and enjoying the process, and the belt promotions will come naturally.
What Does It Mean To Be a White Belt With One Stripe
Significance of the first stripe
Earning your first stripe as a white belt signifies that you have taken the first step in your BJJ journey and demonstrated a fundamental understanding of the basic techniques and principles. It serves as an acknowledgment of your progress and a motivation to continue learning and growing in the art.
You Have The First Stripe, Now What?
Continuing the BJJ journey
After earning your first stripe, the focus should be on continuing to develop your skills and understanding of BJJ. Attend classes regularly, seek feedback from your instructor and training partners, and be open to learning from your successes and failures on the mat.
Do Blue Belts Earn Stripes in Jiu-Jitsu?
Explanation of the stripe system for blue belts and beyond
Yes, blue belts and higher-ranking belts in BJJ also earn stripes.
The stripe system continues to serve as a means of recognizing and rewarding progress within each belt level, with up to four stripes awarded before promotion to the next belt.
All belts aside from black belt will earn 4 stripes before being promoted to the next colored belt.
This is the same for all belts aside from black belt and beyond.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the black belt is accompanied by a series of six stripes, also known as degrees. After earning a black belt, a practitioner can request their first-degree stripe only after a minimum of three years since their black belt promotion.
For the second and third-degree stripes, practitioners must wait a minimum of three years from their previous stripe promotion. As for the fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree stripes, they can be requested only after a minimum period of five years has elapsed since the last promotion.
In addition to the black belt, there are other distinguished belt ranks for highly experienced practitioners. The black and red belt (masters) features seven stripes. The red and white belt, which has eight stripes, was introduced by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) and is designated for masters as well. Finally, the red belt (Grand Masters) is adorned with nine stripes.
How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt
Proper way to tie a BJJ belt
If you are newer to jiu jitsu, here are some basic tips and steps for how to properly tie a bjj belt:
- Begin by holding one end of the belt just below your navel, with the other end hanging down.
- Wrap the long end of the belt around your waist twice, making sure it lies flat and doesn’t twist.
- Bring the long end up and over the top of both layers of the belt, then under and through the loop created by the layers.
- Adjust the length of both ends, so they are approximately the same length.
- Finally, tie a square knot by crossing the top end over the bottom end, then tucking it under and through the loop created. Pull both ends to tighten the knot.
We’ve also included a video guide for your reference:
Is It Hard to Get to your First Stripe in BJJ?
Challenges faced by beginners
Getting your first stripe in BJJ can be challenging, as it requires dedication, consistent training, and an understanding of fundamental techniques. Beginners may face a steep learning curve, but with persistence and patience, progress can be achieved.
Some key challenges that I struggled with when I started that you should be aware of are:
- Overwhelm: The sheer volume of techniques can be overwhelming for beginners. Focus on mastering fundamental techniques before moving on to more advanced moves.
- Frustration: Progress in BJJ can be slow and challenging. Embrace the journey and remember that everyone improves at their own pace.
- Physical Demands: BJJ can be physically demanding, especially for those new to martial arts. Prioritize rest and recovery to avoid injuries and burnout.
- Ego: Let go of your ego and be open to learning from everyone, regardless of their rank or experience.
Not Every Gym Is the Same When It Comes to Stripes and Belt Promotion
Variation in promotion criteria across gyms
Promotion criteria for stripes and belts can vary significantly between different gyms and instructors. Some may focus more on technical proficiency, while others might emphasize competition performance or adherence to the gym’s values and principles. It’s essential to understand your gym’s specific criteria for promotion.
The biggest takeway when it comes to earning your first stripe or wondering when you will be promoted to your next belt is that it heavily varies between different bjj gyms. There is no set standard and its all up to your coach’s discretion and decision on when they feel you’re ready.
Do No-Gi Jiu Jitsu Gyms Like 10th Planet Use Stripes?
Stripe usage in no-gi BJJ gyms
The heavybjj site creator, Zack Nicholas, trains exclisvely at a 10th planet gym that is fully no gi based and he has offered the below insight.
- No-gi BJJ gyms, such as 10th Planet, may use a different ranking system than traditional gi-based BJJ gyms.
- My 10th planet gym doesn’t use stripes at all but I know others that still give out stripes
- Instead, my gym does give out belts when you reach a new belt rank (this can be done randomly or at a yearly schedule promotion event
- In some classes (particularly the advanced/competition classes) you are required to wear a colored, ranked rash guard based on your belt rank.
- Even in some more traditional gi based gyms they may not use stripes either and may only promote practitioners with
Some no-gi gyms use colored rash guards or shorts to indicate rank, while others may use a modified stripe system or forego stripes altogether. Always check with your gym to understand their specific ranking system.
Looking at How Much You’ve Accomplished
Reflecting on progress and achievements
As you progress in BJJ, it’s important to periodically reflect on your accomplishments and growth. Recognize how far you’ve come since your first class, acknowledge your successes, and appreciate the hard work and dedication that has brought you to this point in your journey.
What Other Martial Arts, Sports, or Activities Will Help You Reach Your First Stripe Faster?
|Sport/Activity||Benefits for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)|
|Wrestling||Improved takedowns, body control, and pressure|
|Judo||Enhanced throws, balance, and grip strength|
|Sambo||Better leg locks, submission techniques, and takedowns|
|Water Polo||Increased cardiovascular endurance, and coordination|
|Football||Improved agility, explosiveness, and lower body strength|
|Breakdancing||Enhanced flexibility, body awareness, and strength for ground movement|
|Yoga||Increased flexibility, core strength, and mindfulness|
- Wrestling: Wrestling’s focus on takedowns, balance, and control can significantly benefit your BJJ game. If you’ve ever rolled with someone who has wrestling in the past you know that their intensity, aggression, and control is different than a pure bjj practitioner.
- Judo: Judo’s emphasis on throws and grips can help you develop a strong standing game in BJJ. For any gi practitioner a strong background in judo will rapidly excel them in bjj.
- Sambo: Sambo: Sambo’s combination of wrestling, judo, and jiu-jitsu techniques can provide a well-rounded grappling foundation that translates well to BJJ.
- Water Polo: Water polo can improve your cardiovascular endurance, upper body strength, and agility, all of which are essential for BJJ.
- Football: Football can enhance your overall athleticism, coordination, and explosive power, which can be advantageous in BJJ.
- Breakdancing: Breakdancing can help develop your flexibility, balance, and body awareness, allowing you to move more fluidly on the mat. My coach, Richie Martinez, had a strong background in breakdancing which (along with his strong work ethic) enabled him to reach hi black belt at 4 years of training.
- Yoga: Yoga can improve your flexibility, balance, and core strength, while also teaching you breath control and mental focus, which are crucial for BJJ performance.
So even non traditional sports or hobbies can definitely have a carry over into Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Why The First Stripe in BJJ Matters?
Earning your first stripe as a BJJ practitioner is a moment to be proud of. You most likely have dedicated around 3 to 6 months of training already.
To be honest with you, these 3 to 6 months are probably one of the toughest moments you will endure as a BJJ practitioner. This will test your will, if you would like to continue with the journey. Why?
Well, there is adjustment to the physical demand of the sports. Moreover, having to learn how to get back up and try again after tough classes and rolling sessions. Even changing your lifestyle, habits and schedule to fit BJJ.
This just means that whatever sacrifices and hard work you are putting in for your love of the sport, your first stripe is the reminder that it is paying off.
Hope this has been a good read! Do not forget to check out the other resources we have here at Heavy BJJ. Catch ya next time!