Understanding the Belt Ranking System in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the belt ranking system is an essential aspect of the martial art. Understanding the different belt colours, the order in which they are ranked, and the criteria for belt promotion is crucial for any BJJ practitioner.

What is the Belt System in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

The belt ranking system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a way of representing a student’s experience and knowledge in the field. There are five primary belt colours: white, blue, purple, brown, and black, each representing different levels of proficiency. The belts are an essential aspect of the martial art and show the accomplishments and the rank of a practitioner.

History of the BJJ Belt

The belt system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may have been first introduced in the Gracie family and has evolved over the years. During the early stages of BJJ, practitioners wore only white belts. Later, coloured belts were introduced to distinguish the levels of experience between practitioners.

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BJJ Belt Ranks

The BJJ belt ranks are white, blue, purple, brown and black, with each level indicating a different level of proficiency and experience.

What are the Belt Colors?

The belt colors in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Some schools also use stripes on belts to represent intermediate progress between ranks.

What is the Belt Rank Order?

The belt ranks in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are ordered as follows: white, blue, purple, brown, and black.

White Belt

The white belt is the beginning rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and indicates a beginner level of competency. Most schools require practitioners to spend a minimum of one year in this rank before being promoted to a higher level. Here you learn the basic techniques, concepts, and ideas including how to relax, how to bridge and shrimp, how to create distance, how to lead the dance, grips, basic submissions, basic defenses, basic escapes, basic sweeps, breath control, drilling, BJJ specific aerobic exercises. There is a lot to grasp as a white belt.

Blue Belt

The blue belt is the second rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is usually attained after roughly two plus years of training. At this level, a practitioner will have a deeper understanding of the techniques and theories of the martial art and is usually proficient in live sparring (putting it all together whilst competitively rolling with a team-mate) and drilling (repetitively going over an idea, technique, submission, takedown, defense etc until it is second nature). Most blue belts are encouraged to compete. 

Purple Belt

The purple belt represents a higher level of knowledge in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. At this level, a practitioner is considered a competent BJJ practitioner and typically has over four-plus years of training experience. Here they start to develop a particular style be it a guard player, gi or no gi, wrestle heavy, leg locker etc.

Brown Belt

The brown belt indicates an advanced level of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills and typically requires at least five years of training to obtain. Practitioners at this rank know most of the techniques, have developed their own style and game, and may begin teaching to better understand the techniques they know intuitively and to continue to reinforce the importance of basic techniques and ideas as a foundation that everything else is built upon.

Black Belt

The black belt is the highest level of proficiency in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It requires an exceptional amount of time and dedication, typically ten years or more, to earn.

What is the Belt Promotion Criteria?

Promotion criteria for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belts vary between academies. The primary criteria schools use are belt level, behavior, attendance, consistency, knowledge, application of technique, club ethos and competition performance.

BJJ Belt System

BJJ belt systems often require students to earn between 4-6 stripes on their current belt to be considered for promotion to the next rank.

Next Belt Promotion

When a practitioner achieves the level of knowledge required for the next belt level, the school promotes them based on their performance on the mat, off the mat behavior, and competition results.

What is the Highest Belt Rank?

The highest belt rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the red belt. It is typically reserved for the most experienced and knowledgeable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners.

Red Belt

The red belt is reserved for those who have spent the most time and dedication to BJJ, typically 48 years or older.

Red and White Belt

The red and white belt is the second-highest level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is typically awarded to those who are 67 years or older.

Coral Belt

The coral belt is awarded to someone who has been a black belt for a very long time or so and has made a significant impact on the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Degree Black Belt

Degree black belt represents a high level of black belt proficiency and skill, awarded to individuals with years of experience, dedication and service to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community.

How Is a Belt Earned in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

While the black belt is the highest level, some students choose to either continue to develop their skills or start their current training from scratch as a way to progress beyond the status quo. 

Have fun climbing the leader, we recommend a BJJ Journal to help you better organise all you will learn. Links below.

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