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How Many Black Belts Are There in BJJ? (Full Statistics Breakdown)

How Rare Are BJJ Black Belts?

As of January 2024, we can estimate (based off of IBJJF registered black belts) that there are approximately ~35,828 black belts in Brazilian jiu jitsu worldwide.

I surveyed black belts from my current bjj gym, 10th Planet San Diego, and found that, on average only 1 out of every 4 black belts were registered with the IBJJF, so we can estimate there are approximately ~35,828 (8,957 IBJJF registerd black belts x 4 = 35,828) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts in the world.

Currently, as of January 7, 2024, there are 8,957 listed black belt holders on the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) website. However, this number only reflects those people who opted to register as black belts for competition, validation, and formality. Meaning, there can be many more unregistered black belts untallied on the site.

At my bjj gym (10th Planet San Diego), there are 28 total black belts, of the 28 only 7 were registered with the IBJJF so that means we can estimated on average only 1 out of every 4 black belts are listed on IBJJF’s website.

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.

On average, it takes a dedicated jiu jitsu student ~8-12 years to achieve their black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

With these figures, it may seem pretty common to receive a black belt in in BJJ as there are thousands of people who have done so. But, relative to Earth’s 8 billion population, getting a black belt can be stated approximately as 1-in-a-million. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Black Belt?

The black belt signifies mastery in the art and roughly 10 years of consistent training. However, this time frame can vary depending on your dedication and skill level.

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 phase.

Factors that determine the time it takes to obtain a black belt

1. Training frequency

Mat time will always be the number one factor in high quickly someone improves in bjj. The frequency and intensity of training plays a significant role in the progression to a black belt.

Practitioners who train multiple times per week are more likely to advance faster than those who train less frequently. Consistent training helps develop a solid foundation of techniques and improves overall understanding of the martial art.

2. Individual ability and dedication

A student’s natural aptitude for BJJ, combined with their prior grappling or martial arts experience as well as level of dedication, can influence the time it takes to achieve a black belt.

Some individuals may grasp concepts and techniques more quickly, while others may require more time to hone their skills. A strong work ethic, commitment, and passion for the sport will always accelerate progress.

3. Quality of instruction

The quality of instruction and the guidance provided by a knowledgeable instructor are crucial factors in a student’s journey to a black belt.

This helps them develop good habits on the mat and avoid bad ones.

Learning from experienced and skilled instructors ensures that students receive proper, personalized technical instruction and a comprehensive understanding of BJJ principles.

How Many Black Belts Are There in the World in BJJ?

There is no definitive answer to this question as there is no scientific methodology for estimating the rarity of black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

But, if you based it on IBJJF’s official tally, there are 7,447 listed black belts and counting by the time this post is written.

If we use IBJJF’s registered black belts as a guide and from estimates taken at my current Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym, 1 out of 4 black belts were registered with IBJJF so we can estimate that there are approximately ~35,828 black belts in Brazilian jiu jitsu worldwide.

There are incentives to register as a black belt on the IBJJF’s website. For one, you can earn a certificate, and you are allowed to compete at IBJJF competitions. While the process costs money, many people see it as a way to validate their black belt status.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only way of counting black belts. Overall, the number of 7,447 also sounds quite small. In fact, there are actually more black belts unregistered on the IBJJF website.

While the IBJJF encircles many certified black belts, it doesn’t cover those who aren’t registered with the IBJJF. The number can be upward of 10,000 as a starting point of estimate.

How Many Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts Are There in the USA?

How many jiu-jitsu black bels are there in the USA?

The growth surrounding BJJ is massive and this holds especially true in the United States of America. In fact, in the country alone, BJJ accounts for approximately 20% of all gyms nationwide.

Using IBJJF’s registered black belts, there are 2,000 registered black belts in the USA, so we can estimate that there are approximately ~8,000 black belts in the USA.

The culprit of BJJ’s riseon the international scene is Royce Gracie. Add in the fact that more MMA events are taking place around the country, gaining millions of views, and thus, creating an American community full of BJJ enthusiasts.

According to Statista; “The popularity of martial arts has increased steadily in recent years in the United States. Between 2010 and 2021, the total number of people practicing this sport went up by nearly 23 per cent to hit around 6.2 million.”

Unfortunately, if you want to count the number of black belts specifically, the numbers can be blurry like how the number of black belts worldwide is predicated through the IBJJF’s official website.

You can look at some of the black belt holders on Jujitsu America. You can also look at the national rank system on the USJJF site to get a better view of America’s belt progression.

How Many People Practice BJJ in the World?

Based on a report from 2017, sourcing studies from and, the short version is that there are 2,945,240 people practicing BJJ (as of 2017).

Since it’s a 6-year-old report, we can estimate that the number of BJJ practitioners rose about 1.5 to 2.5 times since then. We’ve mentioned that the black belts listed on the IBJJF site are 7,447. So, since black belts relative to all BJJ practitioners is approximately .1%, this means that there could be over 7.5 million BJJ practitioners in the world. Not to mention more, since there are many unregistered black belt holders worldwide.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt Levels 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.

Belt LevelTotal Avg. Years to Reach Next BeltWhat to Know
White1-2 yearsBasic techniques and movements
Blue2-3 yearsExplore more advanced techniques, strategies and tactics
Purple4-5 yearsFurther refinement of techniques, deeper understanding of body positioning and bjj systems
Brown7-8 yearsAbility to execute techniques smoothly and efficiently, understanding of game theory
Black10-12 yearsMastery of techniques and ability to innovate and adapt

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.

White Belt in BJJ

The white belt is the first and toughest belt for many practitioners. It is marked by high dropout rates and serves as a test for one’s ego.

Key aspects to focus on during this stage include:

  • Becoming accustomed to live sparring
  • Learning the goals of jiu-jitsu
  • Practicing common escapes from pins
  • Mastering basic submissions
  • Avoiding flashy moves
  • Structuring your learning by understanding your learning style

Blue Belt

Blue belt is often the longest stage and has the second-highest dropout rate.

During this stage, practitioners should focus on:

  • Becoming proficient in a few favored positions
  • Actively trying new techniques
  • Exploring other common positions, submissions, and techniques
  • Structuring learning both on and off the mat

Purple Belt

The purple belt signifies progress and mastery of one’s training methods.

At this stage, practitioners should focus on:

  • Chaining attacks, submissions, and techniques
  • Building up weak areas
  • Growing knowledge of all common positions

Related: Wondering how many people actually make it to purple belt in bjj?

Brown Belt

The transition from purple to brown belt is generally smoother. However, when most purple belts get promoted to brown belt they may feel like they aren’t ready for it.

Brown belts should focus on:

  • Developing strong counters to most techniques
  • Choosing not to play favored positions
  • Looking at the larger picture of why things work or don’t work
  • Understanding the general hierarchy of techniques

Black Belt

Achieving a black belt represents a new beginning in the sport.

Black belts should focus on:

  • Improving all attributes that affect jiu-jitsu, including technique, strength, and flexibility
  • Deepening the understanding of mechanics and leverages
  • Developing the ability to completely structure one’s own learning and that of others

How Many Red Belts Are There in BJJ?

Few BJJ professionals have attained the red belt, which is presented at the 9th and 10th degrees. In fact, just five men have achieved the 10th-degree red belt rank; Carlos Gracie, Gastão Gracie Filho, George Gracie, Helio Gracie, and Oswaldo Gracie.

Fortunately, although the red belt might appear insurmountable, if you dedicate yourself to this martial art, you can definitely achieve the black belt or brown belt.

How Many BJJ Brown Belts Are There?

People start doing BJJ for various different reasons; to lose weight, for self-defense, or just to pick up a martial art. For most beginner practitioners, BJJ has a steep learning curve, thus, they’re more focused on attaining the next level, which is the blue belt.

Generally, blue belts tend to be a beginner’s crowning glory. Once they get to blue, they get a feeling of “mission accomplished”. So, at this point, many chose to quit.

White belts have the highest drop out rate with estimates as low as 10% making it to blue belt. Once you’re purple and higher, then you’re too invested so you won’t quit either. Therefore, blue tends to have the highest dropout rate just behind white belts.

This gives you an idea of how people, especially uninspired martial artists, play the ranking system. So, in the case of a brown belt, people who made it that far usually aim for the black belt and are unlikely to quit.

Let’s say there are 7.5 million BJJ practitioners in the world. Of the 7.5 million white belts, only ~10% of them make it to the blue belt. That gives us 750,000 blue belts.

Of the 20% (150,000 practitioners) who make it to the blue belt, maybe half will make it to purple. That gives us  75,000 purple belts

For some reason, many people are content with a purple belt. This other “crowning achievement” is enough for them. However, ~30% of them will go on to the brown belt. It gives us approximately 15,000 brown belt holders out there aiming for the coveted black belt.

That’s a reasonable number, considering there are  7,447 listed black belts on IBJJF.

How Many People Get Their Black Belts in BJJ?

Obtaining a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) requires significant effort. Many people’s journey toward a BJJ black belt is arduous and never-ending, with no obvious destination in sight.

Being awarded a black belt in BJJ is an accomplishment since it shows how much one values the activity.

Only 10% of new BJJ students, according to Rener Gracie, will proceed with a blue belt; what’s more intriguing, only 1% of that 10% will finish with a black belt.

What Are Some of the Best Places for BJJ in the USA?

Nowadays, you can almost always get good BJJ experiences. Gone are the days when you have to travel far just to get into a quality gym.

There are many great places to practice BJJ in the USA. Some popular centers include Gracie Barra (Sand Canyon Avenue Irvine, CA), Renzo Gracie Academy (Midtown Manhattan, NYC), Alliance Jiu-Jitsu (Atlanta, Georgia), and Revolution BJJ (Staples Mill Rd, Richmond, VA). There are also many gyms that offer classes specifically for women or children.

When it comes to finding some of the best places for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in America, there are many options available. Each region has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research and find a gym that offers the training you need. 

Do BJJ Black Belts Sometimes Quit BJJ?

There’s a lot of discussion on the internet about whether or not black belts in BJJ quit the sport. The answer to this question is complex and depends on a few factors.

While it is rare that black belts quit bjj entirely, it does happen. While bjj is the passion for many sometimes life gets in the way, a new job, a relocation, family, age. However, what we mostly see in black belts as they continue to age is that they will lessen their training or lessen the intensity of their training.

Some people who quit BJJ may do so because they want to focus more on other martial arts disciplines like MMA, while others find that they can’t continue to devote the time and energy necessary to keep up with the lower ranks and may lessen training or quit entirely

 In short, quitting BJJ as a black belt does happen, but it’s not something that happens very often.

Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

Can you get a BJJ black belt in 2 or 3 years?

While it is theoretically possible to achieve a BJJ black belt in 2 or 3 years, it is highly unlikely

practitioners. Such rapid progress would require exceptional talent, previous grappling experience, and an intense training regimen. In most cases, this accelerated timeline is unrealistic and does not allow for the development of a deep understanding of the martial art.

However, there have been a few notable examples of individuals who achieved their bjj black belts in a short amount of time such as:

  • Geo Martinez – 3 years
  • Demian Maia – 4 years 7 months
  • BJ Penn – 3 years
  • Travis Stevens – 18 months
  • Kit Dale – Under 5 years
  • Nicolas Gregoriades – 4 years
  • Richie ‘Boogeyman’ Martinez – 3 years 11 months
  • Caio Terra – 3 years

These cases are rare exceptions and should not be considered the norm for BJJ practitioners.

Fake BJJ black belts

With the growing popularity of BJJ, there have been instances of individuals falsely claiming to be black belts. However, they are quickly found out the moment the step onto the mat.

You simply can’t fake the movement, skills, and knowledge of someone who has been training bjj for 10+ years.

While its common to come across someone that may perform significantly higher or lower than their belt rank (I’ve seen many blue belts give black belts trouble), it is pretty rare to see a fake black belt in real life.

The only time I’m seen fake black belts is on the internet or social media, and even then they are quickly found out to be illegitimate.

Can a BJJ black belt beat anyone in a fight?

While BJJ black belts possess a high level of skill and expertise, it is essential to understand that no martial artist is invincible.

Factors such as physical attributes, strategy, and other combat experience can influence the outcome of a fight.

However, if we’re speaking hypothetically, BJJ black belts are often very well-prepared for self-defense situations, since in bjj training there is frequent live sparring.

Live sparring = where you practice bjj techniques on fully resisting partners/opponents.

Can a BJJ black belt beat a black belt from other martial arts?

Comparing BJJ black belts to black belts from other martial arts can be challenging, as each martial art has unique techniques, strategies, and philosophies.

While BJJ black belts may have an advantage in ground fighting, other martial arts may excel in striking or other aspects of combat. The outcome of a contest between practitioners from different martial arts will depend on various factors, including individual skill, experience, and adaptability.

However, if the other martial artist doesn’t have any grappling experience the odds that the BJJ practitioner will be able to take them down, control, and submit them if very high.

Best Places for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the US

Top training centers and academies

There are certain areas in the US that are hotbeds for some of the top Brazilian jiu jitsu academies in the world.

Areas like:

  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles
  • Austin
  • Florida
  • NYC

All of have some of the top gyms in the world all within the same city limits.

Some renowned bjj academies include:

  1. Renzo Gracie HQ (NYC)
  2. Gracie Barra, with locations throughout the US, is known for its structured curriculum and high-level instruction.
  3. Atos Jiu-Jitsu, located in San Diego, California, is led by multiple-time world champion André Galvão.
  4. Marcelo Garcia Academy, based in New York City, is home to one of the sport’s most respected practitioners and instructors.
  5. B-Team jiu jitsu out of Austin under Craig Jones, Nick Rodriguez, and Nicky Ryan
  6. Tristar gym (Montreal) under Firas Zahabi
  7. Art of Jiu Jitsu (Costa Mesa, CA, US) under the Mendes Brothers

These academies, along with many others, provide excellent training opportunities for both beginners and experienced practitioners.

BJJ competitions and events

BJJ competitions and events play a crucial role in the growth and promotion of the martial art. Plus if you can deal with the nerves of competition, they can skyrocket your improvement in jiu jitsu.

Some of the most prestigious bjj tournaments include:

  1. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championships, which attract the sport’s top athletes.
  2. The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Trials and World Championship, showcasing elite grappling talent in a submission-only format.
  3. Local and regional competitions, such as the Grappling Industries, NAGA, Grappling X, Newbreed tournaments, also provide opportunities for practitioners of all levels to test their skills and gain competition experience.