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 most appreciated aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it does not discriminate among practitioners and aspirants based on gender, fitness level, and age. However, when it comes to the belt ranking system, age can play an important role. BJJ is for anyone interested in learning the art of self-defense and self-discipline. All the skills learned on the mats in a BJJ gym can be easily applied to real-life scenarios. Moreover, BJJ has a unique belt system designed by IBJJF to encourage practitioners to hone their skills and advance to the level of mastery in this ‘gentle art.’


The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system is a significant way to learn the level of progress and grade it with colors. With a total of eight belts in the ranking order, practitioners have a lot of opportunities to look forward to. Moreover, the competitive sphere also compels BJJ students to rise to the BJJ belt system. But many often wonder, what is the sequence of the BJJ belt system. Which belt one can acquire after a certain amount of training time, and what skills are required to achieve the higher belt levels? 


Multiple specific colors signify the practitioner’s experience of Jiu-Jitsu and knowledge and reflect that there are special stripes on each BJJ athlete’s belt. This article will explore the IBJJF-approved BJJ belt ranking system for both adults and kids to help you better prepare for the rigorous journey ahead. 

1. 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.

2. BJJ 8 Belt Levels for Adults

BJJ 8 Belt Levels for Adults
Photo credit: thedungeonbjjconsett
  1. White Belt
  2. Blue Belt
  3. Purple Belt
  4. Brown Belt
  5. Black Belt
  6. Red and Black Belt (The 7 th Degree Black Belt)
  7. Red and White Belt (The 8 th Degree Black Belt)
  8. Red Belt (The 9 th and 10 th 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 belt progression works in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and what you need to do to get the next belt. 

3. 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).


The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is acclaimed as an authorized organization that has official requirements for 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 7 th , 8 th, and 9 th degrees. The 10 th degree is taken by the red belt which is eventually the last.


The practitioners with the 10 th -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 age limits and experience regarding all belts. It is worth mentioning that different BJJ academies may have their own system of BJJ belt rankings and promotions. However, academies that register with the IBJJF for representation in competitions and the practitioners who aim to compete in the top IBJJF tournaments adhere to its belt ranking rules.

3.1. How is Age Calculated for the IBJJF BJJ Belt Ranking System?

The IBJJF Belt Graduation system has minimum and maximum age requirements that can help you determine what belt rank you should achieve at a particular age. Practitioners often miscalculate these requirements by considering the age they already are when they should be considering the age they will be or have already reached in the following year.


(Example: BJJ Practitioner’s Birth Year is December 2006)


(2024-2006 = 18 years old even though the practitioner is not yet 18 years old)

Based on the information, the BJJ aspirant can be anywhere between white or brown belt level. However, he cannot achieve the black belt yet because he does not meet the minimum age requirement, which is 19. 

3.2. General Time Requirements for the IBJJF BJJ Belt System

The minimum time requirements listed in the chart above signify the minimum amount of time an athlete must train at different belt levels to be acknowledged by the IBJJF and become eligible to compete in major international tournaments at each belt level. However, these minimum time requirements are not absolute. BJJ instructors may promote an athlete earlier or much later than the specified minimum time requirement. In case of early promotions, athletes cannot register themselves with the IBJJF according to their new belt rank until the minimum time requirements are met. 

3.3. IBJJF Belt Promotions in Case of Previous Belt Achievements

BJJ practitioners who are already registered under the IBJJF belt ranking system as juveniles will have different adult belt rank promotion requirements. Any athlete with belt experience at the kid’s level needs to register at a minimum blue belt level. With the blue belt serving as the minimum threshold requirement for kids with juvenile belt experience, their instructors cannot demote them to the white belt level. Moreover, juvenile BJJ practitioners at different color ranks are not bound by the same time requirements as adult practitioners at blue and purple ranks. 

3.4. Method of Calculation Degrees on BJJ Black Belt

All colored belt levels before the black belt rank are validated through the IBJJF membership registration. However, the additional degrees on the BJJ black belt are awarded and acquired according to the duration served in the IBJJF BJJ Gi system. The degrees on the BJJ black belts are not governed by any minimum time requirements or dependent on the actual promotion dates. BJJ practitioners only need to showcase their activity and time served in the IBJJF as a black belt for every year they want to add towards their black belt degrees. Here is a quick example:

If a BJJ black belt received his first degree in 2023 but he did not register his black belt status with the IBJJF by 2023, he will not be able to register his degree in the IBJJF. He would have to wait for 2-3 years or until 2026 to register his degree. During this time, he must continue his activities in the IBJJF system. 

3.5. 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?

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.

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. In addition to techniques, at white belt level, instructors focus on developing an athlete’s BJJ-oriented mindset. They are taught how to think like a jiu-jitsu practitioner, how to evaluate their opponent’s moves, develop problem-solving skills, and learn the core values promoted by BJJ such as discipline, focus, resilience, mutual respect, and continuous learning. It has been observed that BJJ students who despite learning the fundamentals fail to develop the BJJ mindset tend to quit at blue or purple belt level. Conversely, those who manage to adopt BJJ as a lifestyle, tend to achieve their goals even if they were not sharp grapplers at the lower belt levels. 

3.6. Blue Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 16 Years
  • Minimum time required at this belt: 2-4 Years

The blue belt is the first achievement that a practitioner makes and earns on merit. A  blue belt  probably takes a long time more than any other belt to achieve a 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 hook sweep, elbow escape, knee slice guard pass, and back strangles.

3.7. 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 not let the white and blue belt interfere with his confidence.


A purple belt is 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. 

3.8. 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 an opportunity to polish the edges and to find out the loopholes before reaching the black belt.


However, 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. 

3.9. 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 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 a 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

4. 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.

5. Red and Black Coral Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 50 Years
  • Minimum time required at red and black coral 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. 

6. Red and White Coral Belt

  • Minimum Age Required: 57 Years
  • Minimum time required at red and black coral 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.

7. 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.

8. 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)

9. 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 belts and stripes vary significantly between gyms, especially at the juvenile level.


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, other gyms 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 a 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. 

10. Does your belt Color Matter?

The answer is NO! The color of your belt below black doesn’t 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 of whether it took you twenty-four months to get a new belt color.

11. Is There an IBJJF No-Gi BJJ Belt System?

Unlike traditional BJJ in which wearing a belt with a Gi is mandatory, athletes who practice No-Gi BJJ do not wear any belts with their rashguards and spat pants or shorts . So, does it mean that the IBJJF No-Gi BJJ lacks a proper belt system for fair rankings and promotions?

No-Gi competitors and practitioners registered with the IBJJF follow a ranking system that is reflected by the color of their rashguards. According to the IBJJF No-Gi uniform rules, No-Gi competitors must wear rash guards with 10% of the color of their belt rank. As for the athletes practicing both Gi and No-Gi, their Gi belt ranks are equivalent to their No-Gi ranks. Since most No-Gi practitioners are more focused on making successful transitions to MMA, they are less attentive to their belt ranks. Also, with ADCC and other big competitions like NAGA, athletes have many competitive No-Gi opportunities regardless of their Gi belt ranks. 

12. Which BJJ Rank is the Hardest to Achieve?

Contrary to popular belief, the BJJ black belt is not necessarily the hardest BJJ belt to achieve. The long arduous journey toward a BJJ black belt makes it a highly challenging rank; however, in terms of transitions from lower to upper belts, the hardest belt to earn is the blue or purple belt. It is during these belt ranks that most practitioners quit, while those who survive, end up reaching the brown or the coveted black belt level. 


At the purple belt, many people feel they are progressing at a rate that they would like, get discouraged, and quit. The rigorous and long training sessions often lead to burnout. However, the transition from purple to brown is the most rewarding and highly motivating experience for BJJ practitioners because they are almost at the summit of their journey - the black belt rank. 

13. What is a BJJ Coral Belt?

In BJJ there are two coral belts, the red-and-black coral belt is awarded when a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt reaches the seventh degree. On the other hand, when a BJJ practitioner reaches the eighth degree on his black belt, he is awarded a red-and-white coral belt. The belts are named ‘coral’ after the coral snake. 

14. 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. 


While the IBJJF-approved BJJ belt ranking system helps practitioners stay motivated, it is not required if an athlete is not competing in IBJJF tournaments. Academy owners also need not follow the IBJJF belt ranking system if their students need not compete at the IBJJF competitions. This BJJ belt graduation system and IBJJF membership are only for those students who wish to acquire a BJJ black belt certificate or intend to move into the competitive circuit. BJJ instructors whose students wish to compete at the most prestigious competitions must register with the IBJJF and follow their belt graduation system to promote students, otherwise, their memberships will be canceled and they will miss out on competitive opportunities.

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