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Belt Levels In BJJ: A Guide To Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belts And Ranking System

The belt levels in BJJ (or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) can be pretty confusing. If you are looking to get started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or to simply learn something new then you are in the right place!

Here’s the scoop on the different belt levels in BJJ!

The Basics of BJJ

belt levels in bjj

The belt system in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a way of denoting a practitioner’s ranking and experience within the art.

The standard BJJ belts are: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each one requires a significant amount of time, hard work, and dedication to achieve.

Jiu-Jitsu is unique in that there is no time limit on how long it takes to progress through the ranks. Some people may advance quickly, while others may take a more measured approach.

The important thing is that each person is progressing at their own pace and soaking up as much knowledge as possible along the way. Reaching the next rank should never be a student’s only goal throughout their training. 

What Is Jiu-Jitsu?

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport that originated in Brazil in the early 1920s. It focuses on grappling and ground fighting with the goal of submitting one’s opponent.

Jiu-Jitsu is an effective self-defense system as well as a great workout. Rising in popularity, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the most dominant martial art that involves grappling.  

The premise of Jiu-Jitsu is to use an opponent’s momentum and body weight against them to take them down to the ground.

Once on the ground, a practitioner can then use a variety of basic techniques (chokes, joint locks, etc.) to force their opponent to submit.

This can be done from a number of different positions, such as the guard position, side control, back mount, and combination attacks. Mastering the subtle art of weight distribution is one of the most important concepts in Jiu-Jitsu.

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation is responsible for creating and upholding many of the regulations within the art.

Along with this, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation hosts several of the biggest Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in the world.

Through titles in such competitions, people have become world-famous due to this art.

Grandmaster Helio Gracie is one of the most well-known martial artists due to this sport. He is known as the father of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The History Of The Jiu-Jitsu Belt System

The belt system in Jiu-Jitsu was established in 1934 by one of the art’s founders, Carlson Gracie. Carlson Gracie is a legendary figure in Jiu-Jitsu and is responsible for popularizing the art in Brazil.

The original belt colors were white, blue, red, and black. The brown and purple belts were introduced later.

According to the IBJJF standard, these belts should be 4 to 5 cm wide and worn over the top, wrapped twice around the waist, and tied using a double knot. 

The Jiu-Jitsu Belt System Today

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system is a way of indicating a practitioner’s level of experience and expertise.

In the Jiu-Jitsu belt system, a white belt is the first rank.

Next is the blue belt which is given to those who have demonstrated a good understanding of the basic movements and are beginning to develop their own style.

After blue comes purple which is given to those who have a wide breadth of technical knowledge and can execute advanced techniques.

Then the brown belt is given to those who have a high level of skill and are considered experts in the art.

Lastly, the black belt is awarded. This is the highest rank in Jiu-Jitsu and is reserved for those who have mastered the art.

How Do You Move Up In Ranks?

To move up to the next belt rank, a practitioner must first demonstrate a good understanding of the techniques associated with their current rank. They must also be able to execute these techniques effectively against resisting opponents.

Once a practitioner has demonstrated these things, they will be eligible for promotion to a higher rank. As a practitioner moves up in rank, the knowledge gained from previous belts builds onto itself.

Belt promotions come with experience and years of dedicated training. Each belt has five levels, a clear belt, and four white stripes. This stripe system is based on time, knowledge, behavior, and tournament performance.

A BJJ student must receive four stripes to become eligible for the next level and a new belt

Promotions are generally awarded by a Jiu-Jitsu instructor after 3-6 months and an evaluation of the practitioner’s progress.

The length of time may vary depending on the individual and the instructors’ discretion. Some schools have belt testing requirements, while others do not.

What Are The Different Belt Levels?

There are five different belt levels in Jiu-Jitsu: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each one requires a significant amount of time and dedication to achieve

White Belt

belt levels in bjj

The white belt is the starting point for all Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. It is the first belt in BJJ, and arguably one of the most difficult to achieve.

At this stage, the white belt level practitioner will learn the basics of the art and develop a foundation on which to build their future game. The average time it takes to achieve a white belt is around 2-3 years, although this will vary from person to person. 

Blue Belt

The blue belt is the second adult rank and where many students start to develop their own style of Jiu-Jitsu.

A blue belt practitioner should have a good understanding of the basic principles of the art. As well as be able to apply them in live training and competition.

The average time it takes to achieve the blue belt level is around 3-4 years, although this will again vary from person to person.

Purple Belt

The purple belt is the level at which practitioners start to become true masters of Jiu-Jitsu. At this stage, a purple belt-level practitioner will have a deep understanding of all the techniques and can flow seamlessly from one to the other.

The average time it takes to achieve a purple belt is around 4-5 years, although some may take longer.

Brown Belt

The brown belt is the penultimate level in the Jiu-Jitsu ranking system. The average time it takes to achieve a brown belt level is around 5-6 years, although some may take longer.

Black Belt

black belt

The black belt is the highest level in Jiu-Jitsu and is a lifelong commitment to the art. At this stage, these high-level practitioners should be able to master any situation. As well as to be able to teach Jiu-Jitsu to others.

The average time it takes to achieve the black belt level is around 10 years, although some may take longer.

The Jiu-Jitsu belt system is a great way of indicating a practitioner’s level of experience and expertise. By moving up through the ranks, practitioners can track their progress and see how far they’ve come.

The different belt levels represent significant milestones in a practitioner’s journey and are a source of great pride.

Beyond the Black Belt 

Those new to this sport may be under the impression that the belt levels in BJJ stop at the black belt. While reaching this skill level requires immense amounts of dedication and proficiency, there are higher belts than this.

The belt levels in BJJ also include the red belt and the coral belt.

Additionally, there are separate belt systems for adult and juvenile Jiu-Jitsu students. The belts within the juvenile belt system differ from the five traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belts.  

Coral Belt

The coral belt is the next highest belt following the rank of black belt. The coral belt is either a seventh-degree or eighth-degree belt only granted to those who have been an active black belt for more than 30 years.

This would mean that someone would have had to begin their training as a young child and have been consistent with the art for 30 or more years. With only 34 total coral belts existing in 2021, these belts are rare and hard to come by. 

Red Belt

The red belt is a belt reserved for Jiu-Jitsu grandmasters. Becoming a grandmaster requires a minimum time of 50 years of training.

Those who earn this belt have reached either the ninth degree or tenth degree in BJJ. According to martial artists Renzo and Royler Gracie, the red belt is reserved “for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of art.” 

Juvenile Belt System

It is important to remember that the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belts awarded to children differ from the adult belt system. The two have different requirements and belt rankings.

The juvenile BJJ belt system consists of a white belt, gray belt, yellow belt, orange belt, and green belt. The green and orange belts are reserved for advanced students.

The green belt is highly significant for younger students in Jiu-Jitsu. This belt is the highest rank that can be achieved before the age of 16.

This belt is a massive accomplishment typically only earned by students who begin their training as young children. 

Beginning Your Jiu-Jitsu Journey

Undertaking the sport of Jiu-Jitsu as a brand new white belt can feel scary, but you can only get better with practice!

These lower belts are just as important to master this sport as the higher ones. It is important to remember that all of the other students, were once in the same position.  

Anyone is welcome to learn the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! There is no specific body type, gender, nationality, or minimum age requirement for the sport.

Some children begin their training as young as three years of age, but most BJJ professionals suggest the best time to start your child is around the age of six.

Classes of different age groups are often taught separately to promote the best learning and safest environment. Younger students are grouped together in sessions with children ranging from ages 6 to 12.

It is also never too late to learn! Many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students begin their journey much later in life and find great success as adult practitioners. 

New students must remember to be patient as it takes a long time to earn these achievements and become a master of this difficult sport.

Attaining the next belt level or a certain color belt should not be your main focus as a student, but rather making significant progress in your abilities.

We hope that this article helped you to understand more about the belt levels in BJJ!

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