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Do you want a participation trophy? Well, if you answered yes to that question it is probably best to turn around because Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not for you. BJJ Belts are not something that are easily given out, as reaching the top can take almost a decade of hard work and dedication.
However, it is a very rewarding journey to a destination that not only 1% of humans will ever get to. With that being said, here is everything you need to know about BJJ Belts!
BJJ Belts Ranking System: The Complete Guide to Jiu Jitsu Belts White, Black, Coral, and Everything in-between
Since BJJ gets its roots from the Japanese martial art of judo, it borrows its belt system as well. Initially, there were only the white and black belts. But later on, more colored belts and later stripes were introduced to showcase a student’s progression in the art.
Organizations such as the Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Guanabara, the Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF), and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation are credited with introducing and implementing most of the modern belt system rules.
The following are the belts in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu:
BJJ Belt System: White Belt
The white belt is the very first belt that you get in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when you join a school and begin your training. As with beginners in any combat system, white belts spend their time learning the basics of defense and offense, and trying to build their foundation.
Being a white belt is considered to be a tough task since you’re inexperienced, especially the first couple of months when you get out-sparred by everybody. During this time, you’re also supposed to build up your physical and mental strength as well. You’ll be a white belt for a year.
BJJ Belt System: Blue Belt
This is where the real training starts as you start to build up your technical skills and figure out what works best for you. The right school will help you develop your defensive skills and learn a couple of attacking moves as well.
Mastering the skills that you’ve learnt during this stage is the key to moving up. Practitioners who miss out on this can take up to five years in getting promoted, while two years is the ideal time frame. Many even leave the sport as getting promoted can take a while.
BJJ Belt System: Purple Belt
This belt is a big deal and it signifies that you have intermediate knowledge of the sport. Those with the purple belt are expected to refine and polish their techniques and figure out which skillset they want to proceed in as a student of BJJ.
It can take around two to five years to get promoted to a higher belt. Purple belts receive a fair amount of respect from lower belts and therefore they are to be relied upon for advice. Some institutions may also ask purple belts to teach beginners.
Those with brown belts are considered to be very proficient in BJJ. Once you get that brown belt, not only will you be more confident in your abilities, but you’ll have a lot more independence to refine your techniques and proceed in your BJJ journey as per your wishes.
This means that you’ll be modifying your move set and won’t even need an instructor to do so. You’ll also spend your years finding out any holes in your game. The best part is that you’ll answer to no one in this regard and will be your own person for the one to five years of training.
The coveted black belt is the end goal for most in any belt system. It is especially important in Brazilian jiu jitsu since it takes about a decade for most to get it. With this belt, you’re considered a master of the sport and are treated with a lot of respect at the dojo.
The best part of being a black belt is that you’ll know your strengths and limitations as you’ll be in complete control of your capabilities. You’ll also be quite mature mentally as you’ll know when and how to use a certain move when needed.
The world of jiu jitsu doesn’t end after you’ve gotten the black belt though. You continue training and begin teaching at a higher level. After every couple of years, you can get a new degree of the belt, with there being nine degrees in total.
Red and Black (Coral) Belt
Once you’ve gotten the seventh degree of your black belt, you get this sweet new belt that’s known as the coral belt. You can expect to remain around three to seven years with this belt around your waist before receiving the next promotion.
Red and White (Coral) Belt
Once you get to the eighth degree of black belt, the red and white belt – also known as a coral belt – is bestowed upon you. On average, a practitioner can expect to practice for almost a decade after getting this one in order to be viable for promotion.
On an average of forty-eight years after getting your black belt, you get the red belt which indicates that you’ve completed Brazilian jiu jitsu. Calling you a grandmaster of the sport would be an understatement at this point.
How to Achieve Belts Faster
There are no shortcuts in jiu-jitsu on progressing faster. You get better at this sport by spending more time on the mats. You may be asking: “How much time though?” Well, you can find the answer to that question here.
The beauty of this sport is that it teaches you many lessons along the way. Two of the lessons we think that many people will benefit from by practicing jiu-jitsu are patience and becoming process driven.
Being able to stay patient with yourself and focus on the longevity of your career in the sport is a key mindset shift that will benefit every aspect of your life. Most short-sighted decisions are never good ones.
Being patient means that you show up to train regularly and don’t make excuses. One of the ways to get promoted faster is to get your work noticed. When you take all your lessons and apply them while rolling, it will help you get better and your coaches will also see this.
Patience also means that you’ll have to be persistent as there will be times when you’re stuck at a plateau. This is when you keep losing to the same person or when you’re unable to apply a certain offensive technique or escape using a defensive one.
During this time, your peers could be getting promoted while you may be stuck at the same level. To succeed, you’ll have to keep doing your very best regardless of the outcome. It will develop your skills while also shaping a ‘do-or-die’ mindset.
Then there’s the characteristic of becoming process driven. When you become process driven vs outcome-dependent, you learn to focus on getting better at jiu-jitsu. Day by day you decide to show up and put yourself out there to give yourself a fighting chance at improvement.
Trusting the process means that you worry more about the technical abilities you’ll need to develop instead of the belt that you’re hoping to get. Remember, jiu jitsu is all about improving your self-defense capabilities and getting in shape.
Belts are useless if there are no skills or abilities backing them up. On the other hand, even if you don’t have the ideal belt; having the right technical knowledge and knowing how to implement it will do you more good if you’re ever challenged.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu System
The Gracie System is a little bit different than some other schools. While the techniques taught are similar to the ones you’ll find in other BJJ dojos, the differences lie in the belt system. Gracie jiu jitsu has more colored belts for the youth and places more emphasis on teaching lower belts.
You can find a breakdown of its belt ranking system here or here.
Both Gracie jiu jitsu and Brazilian jiu jitsu were pioneered by the Gracie family – notably Helio and Carlos Gracie Sr. Their children run the two major Gracie fighting institutions – Gracie Barra and Gracie University. They’ve also seen a lot of success in competitions, including MMA.
Everyone’s journey through jiu-jitsu is going to be different, it’s one of the beautiful things about the sport. With every student being unique, you will also run into very different coaching styles and philosophies for promotions.
The following are the types of coaches you can come across:
This philosophy follows training your fundamentals and making your offense and defense more simplistic but also effective. Such a coach may be seasoned in the art, but will also stress that you follow traditions and be very disciplined.
There are many coaches who use facts and figures to analyze the game and teach it to their students. They have quite a deep understanding of the sport and will teach you like no one else can. The only catch is that you must know about the fundamentals of the art to train with them.
These coaches believe in putting practice above anything so they’ll subject you to a lot of hardcore drills and sparring sessions. They’ll teach you from the perspective of a competitor and will encourage you to compete at tournaments. Excellent, but not the best option for hobbyists.
These kinds of coaches may be good to have when you’re a beginner as they want every move to be executed perfectly. They’ll lecture you quite a bit and will focus on every single nitty gritty detail of everything. They can be frustrating to work with though.
Coaches such as these are great at lecturing you before you try out the technique taught in the class. However, they’re not so great at answering questions – either because they can’t or they just don’t want to bother answering.
These coaches are usually BJJ nerds who are also knowledgeable in other arts. They’ll teach you with a lot of enthusiasm but will try to incorporate many moves and terms from other grappling sports into your game. They’ll be a bit hard to follow for some students though.
When you start jiu-jitsu it is important to not focus on the belts at first. But as you get closer to the goal of hitting black, your coach’s philosophy on what they expect from someone at that level will vary.
What Does Your Belt Say About You?
“Your belt is something that just holds up your pants.” This is a statement that gets thrown around in the community a lot but we would argue that your belt represents some real and tangible things.
Although it is something that we do not think you should focus on, your belt is a representation of your level of commitment and dedication to yourself and the sport. It is not easy to rank up and you will not get a participation trophy for being in the crowd.
Time and effort are necessary things you have to put in to get to the highest levels. That being said, there are some characteristics that a practitioner with a certain belt is expected to have. The following tells you how each belt-holder is looked at:
As a white belt, you probably have some skills in the sport depending on when you started and how hard you work. Also, there’s a fair chance that you can defeat the majority of untrained people your size. However, you’ll constantly be delivering inconsistent performances.
Your peers will assume that you’re working hard in gathering information from those who know more than you. They’ll also expect you to be building a strong foundation of BJJ, and that you’re getting physically stronger with each session.
As a blue belt, it is likely that you’re more competent than the average white belt. You probably have some form of technical knowledge and can execute a bunch of moves thanks to your two years as a white belt.
There’s a fair chance that you can beat most white belts and an even higher percentage of laymen. You’re also more chill and this is partly because you have the answer for most situations that can occur in a BJJ contest.
As a blue belt, it is expected that you can decide what’s not working out for you and work on correcting it. As far as your moves are concerned, they’re still not as smooth and fluid as they should be.
Once you get to purple, you’ll unlock a whole new level of respect because you’ll have solid basics and will know several complicated moves. As a purple belt, you’ll perform all the basics flawlessly because you’ll know how to utilize your weight to your advantage.
You’ll even start combining moves at this point to upgrade your game. You’ll start experimenting more to figure out what suits you and your body type. Of course, because your gains will become fewer at this stage, you’ll be expected to have more mental maturity as well.
You’ll be even more skilled and will have a solid game plan that guarantees success most of the time. You’re now expected to look at BJJ from a more conceptual perspective as you set traps for your opponents to fall into.
Higher belts can even ask you to teach classes and there’s going to be pressure on you to do this well. As far as learning is concerned, you should be able to replicate any move that you see your instructor do with ease because your visual learning capabilities are off the charts.
One of the characteristics of a brown belt is that they perform each move without putting much thought behind it. This is because they’ve been training for so long that the moves just happen automatically and any changes required can be done in real-time without thinking as well.
At this point, everyone expects you to be pretty much flawless in every regard. You should have an understanding of the sport like no one does, and because of this, you should be more enticed by the process – you’ll love rolling instead of just winning.
This is a major attribute of any black belt as they know that there’s no real destination left for them. This is unlike when one holds a lower belt and is constantly thinking about that next promotion. It is all about enjoying the journey and the fact that you’ve made it.
You are also supposed to be more humble and know your limitations. You’re not trying to be the best anymore as there’s not a lot left for you to prove. You’ll patiently train with your peers and share your knowledge with the lower belts, instead of waiting for that next degree of greatness.
Why Does It Matter?
BJJ belt ranks are extremely important in the ecosystem of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Because ranking up is not an easy task, a hierarchy of respect is formed within the community. Getting to the highest levels is not something that’s just given – unless you’re a major celebrity maybe.
Every belt is earned and people exude immense amounts of respect for those that can achieve this feat in their lifetime. But while belts do mean something, the real deal is the skill set that you develop. It is what’s going to help you build up your self-defense department.
There are many who quit practicing BJJ because they’re not being promoted fast enough. It is important for them to understand that skills make the practitioner, not the belt. The belt can be taken away but not your abilities.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a sport that we are extremely passionate about and want to spread the wonderful benefits that the sport can have on people’s lives. That is why we created the Grapplers Graveyard.
We want to help people reach their fullest potential through the sport of jiu-jitsu. Making martial artists exceptional human beings is our sole mission here and we could not be happier that we are moving in that direction!
What are the belts in BJJ order?
The belts in BJJ are in the following order – White, Blue, Purple, Brown and Black.
What BJJ belt is Joe Rogan?
Joe Rogan has a black belt in both Gi and No-Gi BJJ.
What belt is Conor McGregor in BJJ?
The “Notorious” one has a brown belt in jiu jitsu which he got back in 2014 following his win over Dustin Poirier.
What belt is 4 years of BJJ?
If you train regularly, you can land a blue belt but some coaches can even award you with a purple.
What is the highest belt in jujitsu?
The highest belt in the sport is a black belt, but it doesn’t end there. There are nine degrees of the black belt so you don’t stop progressing.