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The red belt is an extremely rare and prestigious rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and only a select few individuals have achieved this level of mastery in the art. The number of red belt holders, both men and women (especially), is minute compared to other belt ranks.
Each red belt holder represents a lifetime of dedication, hard work, and contribution to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This piece covers several highly respected and well-known individuals who hold the rank of BJJ red belt.
List of All BJJ Red Belt Holders
The 10th-degree BJJ Red Belt holders: The Gracie Family
1. Carlos Gracie Sr.
Carlos Gracie Sr. is essentially the father of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Helio Gracie’s brother. He is the man responsible for the huge rise in BJJ worldwide. His son, Carlos Gracie Jr. continued his father’s excellent legacy, which led to the formation of the IBJJF. Along with his brother Helio, Carlos Sr. started the first BJJ academy in Brazil and the rest is history! Carlos Gracie Sr is the first and most well-known jiu-jitsu red belt in history.
2. Gastão Gracie
Gastao Gracie, a prominent figure in the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, played a vital role in its development. He was the father of the famous Gracie family, known for revolutionizing the sport. Gastao Gracie’s passion and dedication to martial arts were passed down to his sons, including Carlos and Helio Gracie.
Together, they refined and popularized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, turning it into a highly effective martial art. Gastao’s legacy lives on through his descendants, who have achieved remarkable success in BJJ competitions and have spread the art worldwide. Gastao Gracie’s contributions to the growth and evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are truly remarkable, and his impact on the sport will always be remembered.
3. Jorge (George) Gracie
George Gracie was more of a fighter rather than a teacher, he was the first to win a championship out of his family and was known for his unique style of jiu-jitsu. He had one of the longest unbeaten streaks and remained a very feared opponent throughout his career.
He spent his life practicing and using BJJ techniques taught by his older brother Carlos Gracie Sr and strengthened his family’s legacy by winning a multitude of matches, defeating many famous opponents of different Judo and wrestling styles.
4. Hélio Gracie
Helio Gracie, a legendary figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is well-known for his significant contributions to the sport. He was born on October 1, 1913, in Brazil. Despite his small stature and frail health, Helio developed a groundbreaking approach to BJJ that emphasized leverage and technique over strength.
He co-founded the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy with his brother Carlos and introduced the world to the effectiveness of BJJ through challenge matches and competitions. Helio’s most famous accomplishment was his historic victory over jiu-jitsu legend, Masahiko Kimura, a renowned Japanese judoka.
This match showcased the power of BJJ and solidified Helio’s legacy. His teachings continue to influence the sport, and his impact on the world of martial arts is immeasurable.
The 9th Degree red belt holders:
Reylson Gracie, a highly respected BJJ red belt, is an iconic figure in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. With a rich family history deeply rooted in the sport, Reylson comes from the legendary Gracie lineage. He has dedicated his life to the art of BJJ and has made significant contributions to its development thus attaining the legendary rank of red belt.
Reylson’s expertise and technical prowess are widely recognized, and he has trained and competed at the highest levels of BJJ. His deep understanding of the art, combined with his innovative approach, has earned him a reputation as a formidable practitioner. Reylson Gracie’s legacy in the BJJ community is marked by his commitment to preserving and evolving the art form.
Flavio Behring, a highly respected figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has an impressive history and numerous achievements in the sport. He is a red belt, which is the highest rank one can attain in BJJ. Flavio began his training under his father, Grandmaster Oswaldo Fadda, and later became a student of the legendary Helio Gracie.
Throughout his career, Flavio has competed and taught BJJ all over the world, sharing his knowledge and passion for the art. His technical expertise and innovative approach to the sport have earned him a reputation as one of the most influential figures in BJJ.
Flavio’s dedication to the art and his contributions to its development have left an indelible mark on the BJJ community. His legacy continues to inspire practitioners of all levels.
Carlson Gracie, a legendary figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, had a remarkable career filled with achievements and contributions to the sport. Born on August 13, 1932, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carlson was the eldest son of Carlos Gracie Sr., the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He trained under his father and became known for his aggressive and relentless fighting style.
Carlson went on to establish his own academy, where he trained numerous world-class fighters. His team, known as the Carlson Gracie Team, became one of the most successful and dominant teams in BJJ history. Carlson himself was a fierce competitor, winning several championships and earning the respect of his peers.
His legacy lives on through his students and the impact he made in popularizing BJJ both in Brazil and around the world.
Carley Gracie, a prominent figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with the title of “The Lion of The Gracie Family”, has an impressive history and numerous achievements in the sport. As a member of the legendary Gracie family, Carley has continued the legacy of his ancestors. He is known for his technical mastery and his ability to adapt his techniques to his advantage.
Carley has competed in various tournaments, showcasing his skills and solidifying his reputation as a formidable BJJ practitioner. His dedication to the art and his contributions to its development have made him a respected figure in the BJJ community. Carley’s achievements serve as an inspiration to aspiring practitioners and his legacy continues to shape the sport.
Oswaldo Fadda, a legendary figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has a fascinating history and notable achievements in the sport. Despite being from a different lineage than the Gracie family, Fadda was determined to promote BJJ and showcase its effectiveness.
He established his own academy in Rio de Janeiro and trained a group of dedicated students, known as the “Fadda Brothers.” Fadda’s unique approach and emphasis on training in the gi and self-defense techniques set him apart. In 1951, he famously challenged the Gracie family to a match, showcasing the skills of his students.
Although Fadda’s contributions were often overlooked, his dedication to BJJ and his impact on his students’ lives cannot be denied. His legacy serves as a reminder of the diversity and richness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Francisco Mansur, a highly respected figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is one of Helio Gracie’s only 7 red belts. He has an impressive history and numerous achievements in the sport. He began his BJJ journey under the guidance of the legendary Rolls Gracie and quickly rose through the ranks.
Mansur’s technical prowess and innovative approach to the art of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu earned him recognition as one of the most skilled practitioners of his time. He is known for his smooth transitions, precise technique, and deep understanding of the intricacies of BJJ.
Mansur has also made significant contributions as an instructor, sharing his knowledge and expertise with students around the world. His dedication to the art and his passion for teaching have left a lasting impact on the BJJ community.
Rorion Gracie, a prominent figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has an incredible history and numerous achievements in the sport. As one of the sons of Helio Gracie, Rorion played a pivotal role in introducing BJJ to the world. In 1993, he co-founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which revolutionized the world of mixed martial arts.
Rorion’s vision was to showcase the effectiveness of BJJ and its techniques in real combat situations. His efforts to popularize BJJ and the UFC helped establish the Gracie family as a dominant force in martial arts. Rorion’s contributions to the sport and his dedication to spreading the art of BJJ have left a lasting impact on the martial arts community.
Relson Gracie, a highly respected figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has a remarkable history and numerous achievements in the sport. As one of the sons of Helio Gracie, Relson has been deeply involved in the Gracie family’s legacy of BJJ. Renowned for his technical prowess and exceptional skill, Relson has achieved great success both as a competitor and as an instructor.
Relson Gracie, a true pioneer of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, established a renowned academy in the beautiful archipelago of Hawaii. With his passion for spreading the art of BJJ, Relson recognized the potential of Hawaii as a hub for martial arts and decided to share his knowledge and expertise with the local community.
Through his academy, he has trained and inspired countless individuals, helping them develop their skills and understanding of BJJ. Relson’s commitment to teaching and his dedication to the growth of the martial arts community in Hawaii have made his academy a prominent and respected institution. The influence of Relson Gracie’s academy in Hawaii has had a lasting impact on the BJJ scene in the archipelago.
What is a Red Belt in BJJ?
A red belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the highest rank that can be achieved in the sport. It represents a level of mastery and expertise that is attained after years of dedicated training and experience. The red belt in bjj consists of two degrees, the 9th-degree red belt and the 10th-degree red belt.
The 9th-degree red belt is earned by those who have spent their lives training and having an influence on this sport, there are around 20-30 9th-degree red belts alive. On the other hand, the 10th-degree red belts were only attained by the biggest names in the Gracie Family, also known as the founding fathers of BJJ.
The rank is often seen as a symbol of unmatchable wisdom and knowledge and is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the art and have reached a level of understanding that goes beyond technique. It is a rare and prestigious rank, and those who hold it are regarded as the final bosses in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
How Does Someone Get a Red Belt?
To earn a red belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one must demonstrate exceptional skill, knowledge, and dedication to the art. It is an incredibly rare achievement that is reserved for those who have given their lives to the sport, literally, as it can take several decades to get one.
But the process of earning a red belt is not solely on time, but rather on the individual’s overall impact and influence on the martial art. It can take a lifetime of consistent training, teaching, and competing at the highest level to be considered for one.
Additionally, one must have a deep understanding of the techniques, strategies, and principles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which isn’t really unattainable at such a high level. But a strong moral character and a commitment to upholding the values of the martial art are also key.
How Many Have Held The Rank of BJJ Red Belt?
The number of red belt holders is much smaller as compared to other belt ranks, as it represents the pinnacle of mastery in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Each red belt holder carries with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they are regarded as true legends in the sport.
Hence, currently, only 40 people have attained the rank of a 9th-degree red belt. On the other hand, there are close to just 5 who became 10th-degree BJJ red belts. Some of the most famous red belts include Helio Gracie, Carlos Gracie Sr., and Rickson Gracie.
These individuals have made significant contributions to the development and popularization of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Their expertise, skill, and dedication to the art have earned them a legendary status in the top BJJ practitioners and community.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a BJJ Red Belt?
The journey to earning a BJJ red belt is a lifelong commitment that requires immense dedication, skill, and perseverance. The time it takes to earn a red belt can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and the level of training and competition.
It typically takes several decades of consistent training, teaching, and competing at the highest level to be considered for a red belt. Each red belt holder has their own unique story and timeline, but their journey is marked by years of hard work, sacrifice, and a deep understanding of the art.
It is important to remember that the rank of red belt is not solely based on time, but rather on the individual’s overall impact and influence on the martial art. On average though, you must be a BJJ black belt for a minimum of 48 years to qualify for a red belt!
How Many Female Red Belts Are There?
As of now, there are currently no female red belts in the BJJ world. This is as women got involved in BJJ much later as compared to men. Still, the first female black belt was Yvone Duarte in 1991, who later got promoted to the rank of coral belt in 2021 after training for a total of 41 years as a BJJ athlete.
Duarte still has a long way to go to and someday attain a 9th-degree red belt as you must be a black belt for a minimum of 48 years to qualify for one. Regardless of this, she is truly a legendary personality in BJJ history.
There are other numerous highly accomplished female high-degree black belts who should become red belt-holders in the future. Some of the most famous include Leticia Ribeiro, Michelle Nicolini, and Beatriz Mesquita. Mackenzie Dern is another and she’s also impressed in the UFC.
These women have not only achieved the rank of black belt but have also excelled in competitions, demonstrating their exceptional skills and contributions to the sport. They serve as inspirations for aspiring female jiu-jitsu practitioners everywhere in the BJJ community.
BJJ Red Belt vs Black Belt
The BJJ red belt and the BJJ black belt are both highly prestigious ranks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, representing a high level of skill and expertise.
The red belt is the highest achievable rank in BJJ, symbolizing a lifetime of dedication, knowledge, and contributions to the art. Red belts are often considered the pioneers and legends of the sport, having made significant impacts on its development. Having a red belt means that you’ve completed BJJ.
On the other hand, the black belt is a major milestone in a practitioner’s journey. It signifies a deep understanding of the techniques, strategies, and principles of BJJ. Black belts have proven their proficiency through years of training, competing, and teaching.
While the red belt represents a legendary status, the black belt represents mastery and the ability to pass on the art to others. Both ranks are highly respected and hold great significance in the BJJ community.
In a professional BJJ match between a red belt and a black belt, the outcome would depend on various factors such as strategy, physical attributes, and experience. This is as both red belt and black belt practitioners possess an incredible level of skill and understanding of the art.
So, ultimately, the outcome of a match would be determined by the individual abilities and performance of the practitioners involved, rather than solely relying on their belt color. It would be an exciting and highly competitive match to witness between two highly skilled practitioners.