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The Ultimate Guide: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt System

The Ultimate Guide: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt System

Progress is the ultimate way to stay motivated and get yourself attached to that specific activity. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the most popular combat intact.

This ancient combat fighting style has an encouraging history. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu still has its roots functioning in people’s hearts.

Even spreading more than ever before. The masters of BJJ have introduced a way to encounter the experience, skills, and progress of a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system is a significant way to learn the level of progress and grade it with colors.

Multiple specific colors signify the practitioner’s experience of Jiu-Jitsu and knowledge. 

Read about: What are the Best BJJ Workouts to Help You Become Stronger?

The Journey from White Belt to Black Belt and Beyond

Belts are a significant feature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a way to measure the progress of practitioners in the art.

Currently, there are 8 belt levels standardized for BJJ athletes all around the world.

BJJ 8 Belt Levels for Adults

  1. White Belt
  2. Blue Belt
  3. Purple Belt
  4. Brown Belt
  5. Black Belt
  6. Red and Black Belt (The 7th Degree Black Belt)
  7. Red and White Belt (The 8th Degree Black Belt)
  8. Red Belt (The 9th and 10th Degree Black Belt)

However, the black belt is considered the main goal amongst Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. The other belts before the black belt are the short-term goals or can be considered as the steps of a ladder to reach the top.

Well, obtaining a black belt requires a lot of time, which is probably a good amount of the number of years of your life.

Anyways, except for a lot of time, discipline, dedication, and hard work, most of them are crucial to becoming a black belt champion.

Further reading to know how many belts there are, how to belt progression works in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and what you need to do to get the next belt. 

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How Many Belts are there in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and What Are Their Requirements?

The information below is followed by the IBJJF adult belt system, which has been gathered from BJJ experts. Except for the IBJJF, other belt systems exist also, like the Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation (JJGF).

International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is acclaimed as an authorized organization that has official requirements of belts in BJJ.

Primarily, there are five Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belts: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Below the black belt, there are further belts which usually take four degrees.

The primary six degrees are held by the above belts till the black belt. The other three belts after the black belt represent 7th, 8th, and 9th degrees. The 10th degree is taken by the red belt which is eventually the last.

The practitioners with the 10th-degree red belt are considered as the pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Recognition of a BJJ practitioner can be only seen with an eagle’s eye. Only an expert can recognize the real skills.

A qualified instructor testifies the practitioner and grades him or her accordingly. Unlike other martial arts, a skilled instructor attests to the progression and increases the rank based on multiple factors like age, skill, and time.

There are limitations of time, age, and skills. You need to pass through all of them to get the next belt. For example: According to IBJJF, a blue belt must spend at least two years before getting to the next level which is a purple belt. 

Hence, the black belt is the highest rank counted based on progression grades. According to IBJJF, only an accredited BJJ 2nd degree black belt can promote a black belt practitioner.

Read and learn about the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system and age limits and experience regarding all belts.

Learn About: Why You’re Never Too Old or Unfit to Start Jiu-Jitsu

White Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: Any
  • Minimum Time Required at this belt: No Minimum Time Restrictions

The belt is basically the first belt and signifies the first step of your BJJ journey. This belt is received by everyone as the initiative.

According to the experts of Jiu-Jiu University, a student should spend at least 6 to 8 months at the white belt before moving on to the next belt which is the blue belt. Probably, it takes almost 2 years to move on to the blue belt.

What should be your main focus during the White Belt?

A white belt is a sign of survival. A white should be focused on learning how to survive and not to run away.

More specifically, a white belt should learn about the fundamentals. His main focus should be on:

  • How to open and close the guards.
  • Posturing in closed guards.
  • Three sweeps from the bottom.
  • Three basic submissions from closed guards and escapes.

Learn: Top 5 Most Effective Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submissions

Furthermore, there are three most vital escaping techniques that a white belt should learn:

  • Escape from the low mount.
  • Escape from the side control.
  • Escape from the back control.

However, a white belt is the start of this journey. A white belt fighter should learn the fundamental rules and drills and his focus should be on quality training. Intrusions can make you lost, so stay away from distractions. 

Blue Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 16 Years
  • Minimum time required at this belt: 2 Years

The blue belt is the first achievement that a practitioner makes and earned on merit. A blue belt probably takes a long time more than any other belt to achieve the black belt.

Blue belt is distinguished by experimentation and trying out multiple techniques to find out what works for you. The blue belt is usually kept for 2 to 5 years.

What should be your main focus during the Blue Belt?

A blue belt takes longer than every other belt, which becomes the reason for high expectations. After learning all the basics in a white belt session, a blue belt should find out his portion of expertise.

There are multiple important skills, which should be known by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt practitioners:

  • Blue belts should be equally effective on top and bottom.
  • Blue belts should be able to escape from someone of roughly the same training experience at will.
  • Blue belts should be able to finish the opponents.
  • Blue Belt should have a working knowledge of the hook sweep, elbow escape, knee slice guard pass, and back strangles.

Purple Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 16 Years
  • Minimum time required at this belt: 5 Years

The purple belt comes after the blue belt and signifies one more step closer to the black belt. According to BJJ experienced practitioners, the purple belt should be difficult to attain and it usually takes 5 years to earn this belt.

What should a purple belt know?

According to Jiu-Jitsu University mentors, a purple belt is not only the name of refining your skills and techniques, but also you should build yourself like a mentor for blue and white belts.

A purple belt deals with the matter of believing in ourselves. A purple belt should believe in his skills and do not let the white and blue belt interfere with his confidence.

A purple belt is actually the time to sharpen your techniques and clean up the edges in your skillset to make better progress on the way to a black belt.

Being a purple belt, you:

  • Should submit and control the blue belts regularly.
  • Should not fight against other blue belts unless they are experienced.
  • Should become a challenge in opposition to brown belts.
  • Must know complicated positions and combinations.

Professionals call it a “prototype belt” that permits you to start to specialize in particular areas of your game and enables you to build up the skills that will eventually take you towards a brown and black belt. 

Brown Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 18 Years
  • Minimum time required at this belt: 1 Year

A Brown belt is the last step before reaching the black belt. According to Saulo Ribeiro’s book Jiu-Jitsu University, a brown belt is the opportunity to polish the edges and to find out the loopholes before reaching the black belt.

Although, a brown belt is superior to a purple belt, which means they have the authority to control and submit purple belts. However, the brown belt is dominant to the purple belt.

How long do you spend at Brown belt?

According to the BJJ pioneers, a brown belt should spend at least 1 to 2 years before moving on to the black belt. 

Black Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 19 Years
  • Minimum time required at black belt: 31 Years
  • Other requirements to become an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) certified black belt:
  • Must provide a CPR and first aid certificate
  • Must be affiliated by IBJJF
  • Must pass an IBJJF referee course with a score over 60%
  • Must be the assistant instructor or the supervisor of an IBJJF gym
  • Must be promoted by an IBJJF-accredited 2nd-degree black belt instructor

Earning a black belt is common but beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is the most difficult goal for BJJ practitioners.

Usually, it takes your adulthood in the wish to attain a black belt. Attaining a black belt is no doubt a big accomplishment that a practitioner makes. But the real journey starts from here.

Being a black belt means that you have now entered into the most serious phase of learning. You are not only an accomplished black belt champion but a demonstration and model for others.

It is crucial to know how to carry yourself as a black belt. However, this is not the end of the journey.

You are now in a phase where you know enough to formulate your own developing approach to the game and start to teach others.

You still have a lot to learn and ways to develop yourself. Learning never stops, there is always something to learn new things.

Thus, there are multiple requirements to become an IBJJF-certified black belt. Spending the minimum required time on every belt is one of the basic requirements.

A black belt should be qualified in first aid and competition refereeing.

How long does it take to attain a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

A black belt is a big achievement, which comes with multiple requirements that need to be fulfilled by the practitioner.

However, the length of time to attain a black belt varies depending on a number of factors. Usually, it takes approximately 8-12 years to receive a black belt, but it can be achieved earlier than that with enough hard work and dedication.

There are numerous examples of people who have received black belt earlier than the average time:

  • Demian Maia: 4 years 7 months
  • Kit Dale: Approximately 5 Years
  • Nicolas Gregoriades: 4 years
  • Richie Martinez: 3 years 11 months

What should a black belt know?

Having expert knowledge about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is elementary for a black belt.

Moreover, there are numerous ingredients, that are vital to be a black belt:

  • A black belt should be skillful in self-defense and know his core techniques to a high level of proficiency.
  • A black belt should be a teacher, who teaches self-defense and also knows the full program of self-defense.
  • A black belt should have dynamic attacking techniques across the whole body.
  • A black belt should have a dominant personality and control brown belts while sparring.

Red and Black Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 50 Years
  • Minimum time required at red and black belt: 7 years

The red and black belt represents a 7th-degree black belt. This belt can be achieved after being at least 50 years of age and spending at least 31 years at the black belt. 

Red and White Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 57 Years
  • Minimum time required at red and black belt: 10 years

After serving as the seventh-grade red and black belt for at least 7 years, eligible practitioners can obtain their 8th-grade red and white master’s belt.

Red Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 67 Years
  • Minimum time required at red and black belt: Unspecified

The 9th and 10th Grandmaster’s belts are represented by a red belt with golden and white lines.

You can only claim the 9th rank belt after at least 10 years from the date of your previous graduation.

The 10th red belt is awarded only to the founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Oswaldo, George, Helio Gracie, Gaston, and Carlos.

Kids BJJ Belts: 4-15 Years of Age

Belt Minimum Age Requirement
White None
Grey and White 4 - 15 Years
Grey 4 - 15 Years
Grey and Black 4 - 15 Years
Yellow and White 7 - 15 Years
Yellow 7 - 15 Years
Yellow and Black 7 - 15 Years
Orange and White 10 - 15 Years
Orange 10 - 15 Years
Orange and Black 10 - 15 Years
Green and White 13 - 15 Years
Green 13 - 15 Years
Green and Black 13 - 15 Years

There is no time restriction in the children's belt system. But there is an age limit.

Once you reach 16 years old, your BJJ instructor will promote you to adult Jiu-Jitsu. You will be provided by one of the adult belts which are mentioned above.

According to IBJJF rules, your promotion belt depends on your current belt:

Belt Before Turning 16 Promotion Belt 
White Belt White Belt
Grey Belt, Yellow belt, orange belt Blue belt
Green belt Blue or Purple Belt (depending on instructor’s decision)

The Intensifying Journey from One Belt to Another

The head instructor has the authority to decide the belt color based on the progress of the practitioner. The belt and stripes vary significantly between gyms.

According to IBJJF rituals, their graduation system includes four degrees on all the belts above the black belt. This is not the only BJJ belt system, there are other gyms that do not give stripes on their belts below black. And might give stripes on some belts but not on others.

Kama Jiu-Jitsu can be taken as an example. They give stripes on the blue belts.

Thus, there are multiple ways instructors recognize students who are ready to attain their next belt color or stripes.

There is a general student evaluation system, which is based on few factors:

  • The technical proficiency of the student
  • Performance in competition or sparring
  • How well rounded he is
  • Time spent in training and training frequency

Moreover, the belt and stripe system can be varied according to the gym. There are multiple ways to specify the proficiency of skills with the help of adding stripes. 

Does your belt Color Really Matter?

The answer is NO! The color of your belt below black doesn’t really matter, but your performance on the mat does. 

The BJJ pioneer does not cherish the color of their student’s belts. They admire the performance of their students on the mat.

Don’t worry about the color of the belt, give your best on the mat and prove yourself as a successful practitioner. When your performance level exceeds the level of your belt, age, and time, you will become the best.

Set your goals based on your performance level. Do not set your goals based on the superficial concern whether it took you twenty-four months to get a new belt color.

Read More: What are the Best BJJ Workouts to Help You Become stronger?

Final Thoughts

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the best way to learn and implement, both on the fighting mat and in real life. The BJJ belt system is a way to recognize the proficiency of your skills and techniques.

However, it takes a lifetime to get the higher rank because at every step you learn new things and learning never stops.

Moreover, to get yourself better in BJJ you should train with a perfect BJJ Gi. Training in a combat-specific Gi is a tradition and a fighter must respect the tradition. 

Related: The Importance of Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a Gi

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