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What Are the Yellow and Green Belts In BJJ?

What Are the Yellow and Green Belts In BJJ?

Achieving a belt in martial art and then progressing towards higher levels is always a motivation factor for practitioners. As it is said, “The one who feels motivated, always does more than what is expected”. Everybody knows White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black belt levels. Have you ever seen BJJ fighters with green and yellow belts and wondered what these belts denote? We are going to discuss the differences between Gi and No-Gi belt awarding and wearing mechanisms and rules with their historical perspective in focus.

1. Historical Start of Belt and Stripe Mechanism

The creator of Judo Kano Jigoro was the first person to introduce the belt and uniform system in Judo. Kano Jigoro also derived the use of straps in Judo in 1914. Japanese martial artist and BJJ pioneer Mitsuyo Maeda was a student of Kano Jigoro. His journey played a crucial role in the creation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mikonosuke is also credited with the addition of Judo-colored belts around 1935. The Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Guanabara established the first Jiu-Jitsu official belt ranking system. As time progressed, IBJJF and the Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation both adopted this rule.

Some think the belt ranking is the demonstration and acknowledgment of physical skills. Others believe that it is indicative of the traditional Jiu-Jitsu rules.

Both views share one thing: It will take time to achieve mastery in sparring, rolling, and fluid execution of BJJ techniques. In recent years, these governing bodies have added more colors to the belt system with more features to recognize progress.

A stripe indicates a higher proficiency level within a belt level. That often happens after the acknowledgment of the mentor. As a benchmark in the student's growth, it is customary to receive four vertical stripes of white on the black edge, but this rule is not obligatory for the academies. . A blue belt with four stripes expresses a higher level than the two-stripe blue belt. But the use of stripes varies according to the preferences of academies. Some academies don’t award any stripes.

2. The Competition Belt Allows Referees to Score Matches

The concept is used in BJJ competitions. One competitor will often be given a yellow/green striped belt, while the other will still wear their regular belt. This means that one competitor will be given two stripes, and the other will only wear one. The score-checkers will find out which belt matches which competitor before the game. Because the Gi covers most body parts and a sweatband is not an option and it may not be easily visible.  

3. Meaning Of Yellow and Green Belts In BJJ

Meaning Of Yellow and Green Belts In BJJ

The green and the yellow belt are not official ranks of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Instead, they are used to differentiate among competitors at tournaments.

Green belts will donate excellent competitors of the tournaments. Because sometimes they volunteer to coach for teaching the children's classes, green belts also indicate the progression within a belt color. Sometimes, students of this rank will be already in training for adult classes.

In most martial arts, the yellow belt is the second level, while in jiu-jitsu it is given to intermediate practitioners between the ages of 7-15. A green belt has a high level of technical ability, they can be promoted to an adult blue belt by turning 16.

Although they might not be as physically strong as adults. The belt is only used if two competitors wear the same colored Gi. In No-Gi competitions, it is not uncommon to see players wearing colored bands around their ankles. This is because the points are awarded to the correct person.

4. Why The Green and Yellow Belt aren't Always Worn

The IBJJF uses green and yellow competition belts in its official competitions. Smaller regional competitions tend to have a more casual tone.

5. Advantages And Disadvantages of Both Belts

Although wearing the green or yellow belt can have advantages and disadvantages, it is an IBJJF condition. It must be worn at tournaments with high-profile players like the World Championships and Brazilian Nationals.


An opponent will find it difficult to open your lapel if the second belt is worn over the other strap. The belt gives the wearer an advantage because it makes it much harder to execute their techniques involving grabbing onto the Gis.


Wearing the competition belt comes with significant disadvantages. While wearing two belts can prove to be exhausting during heated competitions on the mats, they can also serve as an additional handle for your opponent. A belt grip is preferred for guard players to sweep their opponents. Two belts can make it easier for your opponent to execute sweeps.

6. All Contestants Use the Green & Yellow Belts

The problem is that smaller competitions might not use the green or yellow belt. But higher-level competitions make it a prerequisite to wear colored belts. Referees cannot afford to get confused or give points to the wrong competitor. The distinction between the green and yellow belts is crucial. 

7. Alternatives To The Competition Belts

The competition belt can be removed. There must be a solution to every problem but rules cannot be altered or tampered with. The belt was created to help avoid making mistakes, so it shouldn't be a problem. This could be solved by placing one of your competitors in the green or yellow belt and giving them the option to remove the central belt.

BJJ practitioners always wear the Gi and Belt proudly. This may be considered disrespectful towards the art if they take it off. However, practical implications aside, most people would agree with this rule. Competitors would likely prefer practicality to tradition when competing for just a few minutes. That is especially true if flexibility in rules allows them to perform well and removes any potential disadvantages.

8. Do Kids Have to Wear the Yellow & Green Belt

Kids are not often required to wear referees' belts, especially young ones. Because they are less experienced with complex movements. The yellow and green belts are often worn by kids aged ten and beyond. 

9. Should They Revoke the Green & Yellow Belt Rule?

Some argue that the belt can be more detrimental to the practitioner. However, if the opponent can use it to win the match, that could be considered unfair. Others argue that if the belt was not worn, it could make it more difficult for the referees to adjudicate competitions and lead to confusion or wrong decisions.

The problem is that many people would argue that taking down your belt rank is disrespectful to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tradition.

An extra belt is not bad. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu martial art is highly focused on respect, and all practitioners should protect and respect the traditions.

10. Final Words

In conclusion, the history of green and yellow competition belts is a side note with little to no significance. For those curious, the competition belt is primarily used by IBJJF to differentiate one competitor from another. Awarding the stripes of green and yellow belts encourage novice practitioners to get the taste of belt promotions and can work and be a great catalyst for the continuance of their BJJ journey.

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