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Belt System

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belt System

White belt is the entry level ranking within Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is the rank held by any practitioner new to the art and has no prerequisite training. It is the rank immediately preceding the blue belt. Some instructors and other high level practitioners feel that white belt is the rank where most of the student’s training emphasis should be placed on escaping and defensive positioning, as it can be argued that a white belt will do much of his or her fighting from inferior positions (especially when training with higher belts).

While this may be largely true, and forms a solid training base for belts to come, most academies will require a prospective blue belt to show a well-rounded skill-set, with a knowledge of not only survival techniques, but basic offensive moves, such as common submissions and guard passes.

Blue belt

A general estimate of the time required to obtain a blue belt in most academies is 1 to 2 years of weekly training.
Blue belt is the second lowest adult rank within the most commonly accepted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grading system, bridging the way between the beginner rank of white belt and the intermediate rank of purple belt.

To progress to a purple belt, a blue belt level student must acquire a vast technical knowledge regarding all aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and hundreds of hours of mat-time to know how to implement these moves efficiently. Perhaps because of this, blue belt is often known as a rank where a student collects a large number of techniques.

The IBJJF requires that a practitioner be at least 16 years old to receive a blue belt (thereby officially entering into the adult belt system).


Purple belt

A general estimate of the time required to progress from blue belt to purple belt in most academies is 2 to 3 years of weekly training.
Purple belt is the intermediate adult ranking within the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, coming after the rank of blue belt and before brown belt. It is often considered one of the longer held ranks, and typically takes at least 3 years of dedicated training as a blue belt to achieve (total training time of 4-5 years from white belt).

Even as an “intermediate” rank, the purple belt level practitioner holds a formidable amount of knowledge, and purple belts are generally considered qualified to instruct lower belts. In other martial arts, students with a similar amount of time and effort invested would often be ranked as a black (instructor) level belt.

The IBJJF requires that a student be at least 16 years old and have spent a minimum of 2 years ranked as a blue belt to be eligible to receive a purple belt (with slightly different requirements for those transitioning straight from the youth belts).

Brown belt

A general estimate of the time required to progress from purple belt to brown belt in most academies is 2 to 3 years of weekly training.
Aside from the exceptional belts awarded at the highest levels, brown belt is the highest “color” belt rank within the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, providing a transition between the intermediate purple belt rank and the elite black belt. Brown belt is arguably the beginning of the elite ranks in and of itself, typically taking at least 5 years of dedicated training to achieve. As a transitional rank, it is often thought of as a time for refining rather than accumulation, where a practitioner hones already acquired technical and practical skills until they reach a black belt level.

The IBJJF requires that a student be at least 18 years old and have spent a minimum of 1.5 years ranked as a purple belt to be eligible to receive a brown belt.

Black Belt

A general estimate of the time required to progress from brown belt to black belt in most academies is 2 to 3 years of weekly training.
As with many other martial arts, the black belt is the highest common belt within the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, denoting an expert level of technical and practical skill. Estimates vary on the time required to achieve the rank, with 10 years total (or more) an often heard estimate. No matter how many actual years are required, every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will have undoubtedly invested thousands of hours of mat time (randori) into the art and hold a skill-set that demonstrably reflects such.

The IBJJF requires that a student be at least 19 years old and have spent a minimum of 1 year ranked as a brown belt to be eligible to receive a black belt.

Black and red belt

Current IBJJF regulations places the time it takes to progress from a 8th degree red-and-black belt to 9th degree red belt at 10 years.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the red belt is reserved “for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art”.

It is awarded in lieu of a 9th and 10th degree black belt (identical to the art of Judo). Assuming that someone received his or her black belt at 19 years old (the minimum age to receive a black belt under the IBJJF’s graduation system) the earliest they could expect to receive a 9th degree red belt would be at the age of 67.