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The BJJ belts ranking system helps show progression, making it easy to identify who’s at a higher skill level. It differentiates the amateurs and pros from each other, and each belt comes with a certain degree of clout associated with it.
Jiu Jitsu belts all represent something different within their respective academy. In this article we break down some of those roles each of them are expected to carry.
JIU-JITSU BELT RANK
In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there are five ranks that you can achieve within the sport: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black. Black belts have their own nine levels, each of which can take years to achieve.
When someone achieves a belt promotion it symbolizes many things. The higher the rank the more prestige you have within the community. You become a senior and are considered a leader to the lower-ranked belts.
It is important to hold yourself to a high standard when you rank higher within the gym. This is because less experienced people look at higher belts for guidance, like you probably did at some point.
Why Belt Ranking is Important
Getting a promotion from one belt to another is a huge deal in any martial art dojo. It is a symbol of acknowledgement from your teachers, who believe that you are progressing and moving closer to your goal of mastering the art of jiu-jitsu.
When you work towards something it is always a great feeling to see that others can witness the growth in you. It is a way to continue to keep you motivated and moving in the right direction within the sport.
Every coach has a different philosophy when it comes to belts and what they represent. There are some coaches who promote their athletes sooner than others. Others are known to take their time – Fabio Prado is an example of this.
He is a respected BJJ coach who has worked with Team Alpha Male. Prado coaches UFC featherweight legend and Hall of Famer Urijah Faber. Despite his legendary career being done and dusted, Faber has been stuck as a brown belt for more than a decade now.
Despite training in this great art for almost two decades now, and having defeated a couple of black belts in the cage, Faber still hasn’t received his own black belt. This is because his coach believes that he still isn’t worthy of it yet.
With each coach having their own viewpoints, here is a general summary of what each belt can represent within the dojo:
To put it simply, white belts are beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are no prereqs to become a white belt level practitioner. You simply have to join a BJJ school and start training. A white belt’s training regiment focuses on learning defensive techniques and basic offensive practices.
White belts are expected to get their training wheels off and survive. The first 6 months are the hardest because it is a time when they learn the most but also get folded like a lawn chair. Most white belts stay at this stage for 1 to 2 years depending on how much they train.
Once you’ve mastered all the white belts basic techniques, you’re ready for promotion to the blue belt level. The major difference between white and blue belts is that the latter have an abundance of technical knowledge and the experience to implement it on the mat.
Blue belts are considered well-trained beginners in most eyes. They learn a wide variety of techniques and are expected to stretch out most white belts. If you start out young, then the IBJJF maintains that you should be at least 16 years old.
Also, this is where you officially enter the adult belt system. Remember, most competitors remain blue belts for 2 to 4 years.
A purple belt level practitioner is considered to be an intermediate in the sport. Due to this, most purple belts are expected to teach lower-ranked practitioners. At this level, one starts to gain credibility within the community and this is why purple belts need to be good teachers.
According to the IBJJF, one is expected to spend at least two years as a blue belt and should be at least 16 years old before becoming eligible for the purple belt. Once at this level, at least 18 months of experience are required at this stage to move up.
Further up on the expertise level, brown belts are the most respected competitors below black belts. Brown belts are expected to spend their time refining what they already know in order to make more progress. They even have the knowledge and expertise to open and run their gym.
A brown belt typically requires one to compete for a year before moving up. However, we’ve discussed what happened with Faber and so the timeframe for promotion above the brown belt level depends upon the instructor.
In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, having a black belt usually means that you’re an expert in the sport. It means that you have a level of technical and practical skills that supersede everybody else. You have put almost a decade of blood, sweat and tears in the sport after all.
There are nine different degrees of expertise available at this level. One should practice and teach at least three years to progress to the next degree – for the first three degrees. The next three require you to spend five years to progress to each one.
Also, you must be at least 19 years old to become a black belt in the first place. The most senior black Belts are the leaders of the academies and are known as professors. The world of competitive jiu-jitsu opens up for them completely.
Red and Black Belt
Also known as a coral belt, this belt is awarded to black belts who’ve reached the seventh degree. They’re known as masters and have many years of experience backing them up. One has to spend at least seven years at this level before moving onto the next coral belt.
Red and White Belt
This is also a coral belt that a master receives when they reach the eighth degree. A master can expect to practice for at least ten years at this level.
The red belt is reserved for grandmasters – those who’ve achieved the ninth degree black belt. It is considered to be the pinnacle of modern jiu-jitsu but it can take one’s whole life to get here.
Don’t worry so much about the belt ranks
Unlike what some people say, belts in BJJ do matter – there wouldn’t be a BJJ belt system if they didn’t. However, belts don’t necessarily represent skill as there’s no standardized amount of knowledge that one needs to have in order to get a belt.
It all depends on the coaching system that you go through, and how quickly the promotions happen at your dojo. This is why a white belt from another gym could defeat a blue belt where you train and vice versa.
Sure, getting that sweet promotion is something that everyone in the gym hopes for. However, it also means that you’ll be facing even bigger challenges when training as you’ll be competing with the more experienced athletes at that level.
Belt promotions are not everything that jiu-jitsu has to offer. Many believe that focusing on belts and ranking up fast is an easy way to slow down your growth as an athlete. Jiu Jitsu is a long journey, so enjoy your time at each level because they all have something amazing to offer.
Belt ranking is great and always makes a cool Instagram post. But you must remember why you started in the first place; focus on your why!
Are Jiu Jitsu Belt Ranks standardized?
Not really. Sure, the IBJJF has rules about the eligibility of athletes getting promoted to a belt (age, experience, etc). However, these rules are only followed by those who hope to compete in the organization’s tournaments.
What belt is 4 years of BJJ?
It depends on where you’re training. If you train religiously, most coaches will see you promoted to a blue belt (singer Demi Lovato got this belt in just about a year of training), while some can promote you even further to a purple belt.
What belt is Joe Rogan in BJJ?
Joe Rogan currently holds a second degree BJJ black belt. The world’s most famous podcaster began training in the art in the mid-90s after being inspired by Royce Gracie at UFC 2. He got his blue belt in the late 90s and by 2010, he became a black belt in both Gi and NoGi BJJ.
What is the highest color belt in jujitsu?
The highest color belt in BJJ is the black belt. However, the promotions don’t stop there. You keep on practicing the art and after every couple of years, your black belt is upgraded to a new level of experience, or degree. There are nine such degrees available in BJJ.
What order are the belts in Jiu-Jitsu?
The basic belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu is a white belt. You then get promoted to a blue belt, and later a purple belt. Then comes the brown belt, which is followed by the black belt. There are no more colored belts beyond this, only the nine levels of the black belt.
What is the highest level belt in Jiu-Jitsu?
This would be the red belt, better known as a ninth degree black belt. After achieving this belt, one gets to be called a grandmaster. There’s also a mystical tenth degree belt but that was only given to the pioneers of the sport.
What are the ranks of BJJ?
BJJ ranks you via a belt system. Colors represent the athlete’s experience and skill or their rank. The ranks or belts are white, blue, purple, brown, and black. After becoming a black belt, one can get promoted even further by achieving the nine levels or degrees of the black belt.
How does the Jiu Jitsu belt system work?
The belt system rewards you with a promotion after you’ve mastered a certain level of skills and spent a couple of years while holding a certain belt. The eligibility for promotion depends on your instructors.