Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt Ranking System

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt Ranking System

The martial arts are rife with myths and legends, they have been since the beginnings of human history and yet have only recently made their way across the globe. Since their Western adoption, advancement through the ranks, as denoted by colored belts, has attracted a great deal of attention. Some say belts and styles are meaningless, but many would disagree, especially those who practice styles through which advancement is particularly long and arduous.

One old myth about how rank was conferred in older forms of martial arts is the one about how a novice student would be a given white belt and the “color” was really the dirt and stains that would accumulate over the years. By the time the belt was soiled black, the student was surely an expert.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu owes its ranking system to Judo. At first, Judo founder Kano Jigor introduced a white belt and a black belt. This is the system that Mitsuyo Maeda brought with him to Brazil. In order to encourage Westerners to continue their practice of the art, "Father of French Judo” Mikonosuke Kawaishi most likely filled in the rest of the colors. His reasoning was that Westerners desire more of an immediate sense of accomplishment.  This is especially true of children, hence their own separate ranking system. As for adults, who progress at a much slower pace, they are rewarded, albeit at a much slower pace, through the following ranks:

BJJ White Belt

This is where all students begin. The only exception is if you were a student as a child, you may be allowed to pass the white belt level and begin as a blue belt. The white represents purity, and lack of knowledge in Jiu-Jitsu.

BJJ Blue Belt

It takes several hundred hours to pass from this belt to purple belt. Therefore, this is the period where students gain a vast amount of knowledge of the core skills of BJJ. This belt is typically acquired after one to two years as a white belt and the student is at the minimum age of 16 years old.

BJJ Purple Belt

This belt is halfway between white and black. Therefore, it is considered the intermediate belt in Jiu-Jitsu. It takes two to three years to acquire it. Students must be at least 16 years old and have a minimum of two years in training before acquiring this rank.

BJJ Brown Belt

This is the beginning of the elite. It is the second most advanced rank in the system and typically takes five years to achieve. The minimum age is 18 and students spend one and a half years as a purple belt. Students spend this time refining their basic skills before reaching black belt.

BJJ Black Belt

With the exception of the unique red and black, and red belts, this is the highest rank in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu system. This belt represents, on average, 10 years or thousands of hours of training. The black belt must be at least 19 years old and have spent one year as a brown belt. There are six degrees of black belt.

BJJ Black and Red Belt

After six degrees of black belt, a student may be rewarded a black and red belt. This is equivalent to the rank of Master in any martial art. It means this person has a great influence on the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

BJJ Red Belt

The final belt color, like the rank of Grandmaster in other styles, is the rank of red belt. The red belt is the best of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has decades of experience. He or she has probably changed the art itself. A student who begins BJJ training at the age of 19 may expect to receive a red belt in their late sixties. Many red belts accumulate great amounts of fame by the time they’re awarded this belt.

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