The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) ranking system is a hierarchical system of colored belts that represent different levels of skill and knowledge. The ranking system typically includes the following belt colors, in order of increasing belt rank: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each belt level has specific requirements and expectations for practitioners, such as demonstrating proficiency in certain techniques and concepts, competing in tournaments, and showing a commitment to training and personal growth. The BJJ belt and ranking system is an important part of the art, providing a clear progression path for students and a way to recognize and differentiate practitioners based on their skills and knowledge.
Jiu-Jitsu Ranking System History
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) ranking system was developed by the Gracie family in the early 20th century. The Gracies, who were a family of martial artists from Brazil, developed BJJ as a hybrid style that incorporated elements of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and wrestling. The Gracies founded the first BJJ martial art academy in Brazil in 1925, and the art began to spread throughout the country.
Initially, there were only two belt colors in BJJ: white and black. White belts represented beginners, while black belts represented advanced practitioners who had achieved a high level of skill and mastery in the art. Over time, the Gracies began to add additional belt colors to the system to differentiate between different levels of skill and knowledge.
The colored belt system that is used in modern BJJ was first introduced in the 1960s by Carlos Gracie Jr., the son of BJJ co-founder Carlos Gracie Sr. Carlos Jr. introduced the colored belt system to help provide a clearer progression path for students and to incentivize continued training and growth in the art.
Today, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system typically includes the following belt colors, in order of increasing rank: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each belt level has specific requirements and expectations for practitioners, such as demonstrating proficiency in certain techniques and concepts, competing in tournaments, and showing a commitment to training and personal growth. Every Professor will vary slightly on their minimum requirements or grade to achieve their next belt.
The BJJ ranking system has evolved over the years to become an important part of the art, providing a clear progression path for students and a way to recognize and differentiate practitioners based on their skills and knowledge.
Overview of Each BJJ
Most schools and affiliations generally follow the ranking guidelines laid out by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. Although, how each school handles belt promotions can vary greatly and this will continue to evolve as does the art itself. Below is a brief overview of each adult Jiu-Jitsu belt rank and the general skills and knowledge required to achieve it.
This is the starting point and beginning rank for all Brazilian jiu-jitsu students and practitioners. It represents a beginner level and signifies that the person is just starting to learn the basics of BJJ.
This is the first colored belt and second adult rank. It is awarded to practitioners who have developed a good understanding of the fundamental techniques and concepts of BJJ. At the Blue belt level, most are expected to have a solid understanding of the guard passing, submissions, and escapes. Blue belt jiu-jitsu practitioners should have already put in hours and hours of mat time. This belt often takes 2-3 years to earn.
The purple belt is awarded to practitioners who have developed a high level of proficiency in BJJ and attained a large amount of knowledge, attacks and defenses. A purple belt-level practitioner should have a deep understanding of the art and be able to execute techniques with precision and ease.
The brown belt is awarded to practitioners who have reached an expert level in BJJ. At this jiu jitsu belt level, the practitioner should be able to anticipate their opponent’s moves and have a wide range of techniques at their disposal.
This is the not highest rank in BJJ, but it is often looked at as such. It is awarded to practitioners who have attained a mastery of the art. Black belts are expected to have exceptional technical skills, teaching ability, and a deep understanding of BJJ philosophy.
It’s worth noting that the time it takes to progress through the BJJ belt system can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including how often someone trains, their natural aptitude for the art, and the requirements set by their instructor. Additionally, some schools may include additional colored belts between the ones listed above, such as yellow or green belts.
Jiu-Jitsu Ranks After Black Belt
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), there are additional ranks in the IBJJF belt ranking system that follow the black belt. These ranks are typically referred to as degrees or stripes, and they indicate continued progress and development in the art. The ranks after black belt are as follows:
- Coral Belt: The coral belt is typically awarded to black belts who have been training for at least 30 years and have made significant contributions to the art of BJJ.
- Red and Black Belt: The red and black belt is typically awarded to coral belts who have continued to train and make significant contributions to the art for an additional 10 years.
- Red Belt: The highest rank in BJJ, the red belt is typically awarded to practitioners who have spent 50 or more years training and teaching BJJ. Red belts are often considered living legends of the art and are highly respected within the BJJ community.
It’s worth noting that promotions to these highest levels are relatively rare and typically require a lifetime of dedication and commitment to the art of BJJ. It’s also worth noting that the specific requirements and qualifications for these ranks may vary between different schools and organizations.
Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts
Red belts are the highest rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and they are typically awarded to practitioners who have dedicated their entire lives to the art and have made significant contributions to its development and growth. Because of the rarity and significance of the red belt, there are relatively few practitioners who have achieved this rank.
Some of the most well-known individuals who hold red belts in BJJ include:
- Helio Gracie: One of the founders of BJJ, Helio Gracie spent his entire life training and teaching the art. He was awarded a red belt shortly before his death in 2009 at the age of 95.
- Carlos Gracie Sr.: Another of the founders of BJJ, Carlos Gracie Sr. was also awarded a red belt shortly before his death in 2008 at the age of 94.
- Oswaldo Fadda: A prominent BJJ practitioner and teacher, Oswaldo Fadda was one of the few individuals who trained outside of the Gracie family and developed his own unique style of BJJ. He was awarded a red belt shortly before his death in 2005 at the age of 90.
- Francisco Mansur: A highly respected BJJ teacher and practitioner, Francisco Mansur was awarded a red belt in 2013 after more than 60 years of training and teaching BJJ.
It’s worth noting that there may be other practitioners who hold red belts in BJJ, but due to the rarity and exclusivity of the rank, there is no comprehensive list of all red belt holders.
Jiu-Jitsu Belt Ranking for Kids
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) belt system for kids is similar to the adult system, but with some minor differences. Here’s an overview of the BJJ belt system for kids:
- White Belt: This is the starting rank for all kids. It represents a beginner level and signifies that the child is just starting to learn the basics of BJJ.
- Grey Belt: This is the first colored belt and is awarded to kids who have developed a good understanding of the fundamental techniques and concepts of BJJ.
- Yellow Belt: The yellow belt is awarded to kids who have developed a strong foundation in BJJ and are beginning to refine their skills.
- Orange Belt: The orange belt is awarded to kids who have reached an intermediate level in BJJ. At this level, the child should have a solid understanding of the guard, submissions, and escapes.
- Green Belt: The green belt is awarded to kids who have attained an expert level in BJJ. At this level, the child should be able to anticipate their opponent’s moves and have a wide range of techniques at their disposal.
It’s worth noting that the time it takes for kids to progress through the BJJ belt system can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including how often they train, their natural aptitude for the art, and the requirements set by their instructor. Additionally, some schools may include additional colored belts between the ones listed above, such as white/yellow or blue/purple belts for intermediate levels.
It’s also common for some schools to use stripes on the belts to indicate progress towards the next rank. For example, a white belt may have stripes added to signify their progress towards their grey belt.
Why is the BJJ Ranking System Important?
The BJJ ranking system is important for several reasons:
- Measurement of progress: The ranking system provides a clear and objective way to measure a practitioner’s progress and development in the art. As a practitioner advances through the ranks, they gain a sense of accomplishment and recognition for their hard work and dedication.
- Motivation: The ranking system serves as a source of motivation for practitioners. The pursuit of the next rank can help keep practitioners focused and committed to their training, leading to continued growth and improvement.
- Standardization: The BJJ ranking system helps to standardize the curriculum and ensure that practitioners are taught and tested on the same fundamental techniques and concepts at each level. This helps to maintain consistency and quality across different schools and instructors.
- Goal setting: The ranking system provides clear goals and milestones for practitioners to work towards. This helps to keep training focused and structured, and can also help practitioners set and achieve goals outside of the gym.
- Recognition of skill: The ranking system provides a way to recognize and differentiate practitioners based on their skill level. This can be helpful for matchmaking in competitions or for selecting training partners of similar skill level.
Overall, the BJJ ranking system plays an important role in the development and growth of practitioners in the art. It provides a clear structure for progression, motivation for continued training, and recognition of skill and accomplishment.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt in BJJ?
The time it takes to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) can vary greatly and is dependent on a number of factors. There is no set timeline for earning a black belt in BJJ, as each individual’s journey is unique.
Some factors that can impact the time it takes to earn a black belt in BJJ include:
- Consistency of training: Practicing BJJ regularly and consistently over a long period of time is important for progressing through the ranks.
- Natural ability: Some people may have a natural aptitude for BJJ, which can help them progress more quickly.
- Starting age: Those who begin training at a young age may progress more quickly than those who start later in life.
- Quality of instruction: Having skilled and knowledgeable instructors can help accelerate progress.
- Competition experience: Participating in competitions can help practitioners gain experience and improve their skills more quickly.
The average time, it can take 8-12 years of consistent training to earn a black belt in BJJ. However, this timeline can vary widely, with some individuals earning their black belt in as little as 5 years or taking over 15 years to achieve this rank. Ultimately, the time it takes to earn a black belt in BJJ will depend on individual circumstances, dedication to training, and many other factors.
Concentrate on the Journey
While belt ranks are an important part of the Jiu-Jitsu system and provide a way to recognize and differentiate practitioners based on their skill and knowledge, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal of training in BJJ should be personal growth and development.
Focusing too much on belt ranks can be counterproductive, as it can lead to a fixation on achieving higher ranks rather than on improving one’s skills and understanding of the art. This can create a mindset where the only measure of success is achieving the next belt rank, rather than enjoying the journey of learning and growth that comes with training in BJJ.
By focusing on the journey rather than the rank, practitioners can cultivate a deeper appreciation for the art of BJJ and approach their training with a sense of curiosity, exploration, and open-mindedness. This can help to create a more fulfilling and rewarding experience and lead to greater long-term success and satisfaction in the art.
Ultimately, the rank should be viewed as a reflection of one’s progress and skill level in BJJ, rather than as the sole objective of training. By prioritizing the journey and committing to ongoing growth and development, practitioners can achieve greater success in BJJ and in life.