Ranking/Progression in BJJ

Similar to other martial arts, progression in Jiu Jitsu is defined by a colored system of belts. Every student begins their Jiu Jitsu journey with a white belt regardless of age or any other prior martial arts experience. As Jiu Jitsu evolved, an additional belt system was implemented for practitioners under the age of sixteen. Practitioners who are sixteen years of age and older are qualified to move up in rank using the traditional belt system once they are ready for a promotion. Subsequent to the White belt, the traditional Jiu Jitsu belt colors are: Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black. In contrast to other martial arts, progression in Jiu Jitsu is oftentimes difficult due to it’s stricter promoting criteria. However, to reward a students their time, knowledge, and behavior, an instructor can award stripes. An instructor will usually promote a student to the next belt if the student has 4-5 stripes on their current belt. Overall, progressing in Jiu Jitsu may seem like a tedious process, but the time and dedication put onto the mat will have inevitably paid off once one achieves their Black belt.

Jiu Jitsu Belts


Kids Ranking System 

As Jiu Jitsu skyrocketed in popularity, it was evident that a separate ranking system be incorporated due to the overflow of kids who began to practice the art. Being that children are still physically underdeveloped and unaware of their natural abilities, their belt system is a bit more complicated. This is to ensure a level playing field in competition, keep track of one’s progress, and accurately assess their knowledge. After white belt, the next colors are: Gray, Yellow, Orange, and Green. However, each belt has 3 subdivisions to achieve in order to advance to the next color belt. For instance, a child who has fulfilled the criteria for a white belt would be promoted to Gray/White belt first. When the student is due for another promotion, they would receive their solid Gray belt, and eventually a Gray/black belt to complete the final division of that belt color. After Gray/Black, a student would earn their Yellow belt and the cycle would continue until Green/Black belt is achieved. Also, it is important to keep in mind that a student cannot be promoted to the next belt unless they have stayed active with their current belt for at 8 months.

Adults Ranking System 

After training Jiu Jitsu for several months, students usually become eager to advance in belt and begin to take their training seriously. The minimum age to receive a Blue belt is sixteen, but there are a few exceptions. For example, if a student has significantly progressed in the kids belt system, they would automatically receive their Blue belt upon turning sixteen years old. This is because it is assumed that the student already has a wealth of knowledge as they have been practicing Jiu Jitsu for a longer period of time. An average person who starts training must usually have their White belt in Jiu Jitsu for at least 8 months in order to be promoted. To transition from Blue to Purple belt, one must have held their belt for a year and half. At this point, one who earns a Purple belt is eligible to start instructing a class of their own. Many practitioners say that if one makes it to their Purple belt, that they will eventually earn their Jiu Jitsu Black belt. This is because an overwhelming number of students stop training when they receive their Blue belt because of the longevity of progressing in Jiu Jitsu. To transition from Purple to Brown belt and Brown to Black belt, one must have held their previous belt for at least 1 year. In general, it takes most common practitioners 8 – 10 years to achieve a Black belt, however some prodigies have earned their Jiu Jitsu Black belt in 3-5 years. The minimum age to receive a Black belt is nineteen years old, which is beneficial for younger practitioners because higher level Black belts say that the Jiu Jitsu journey truly begins at the Black belt level.

No-Gi Translations 

In No-Gi Jiu Jitsu tournaments, a belt is not worn since the competition is contested in a rashguard, shorts, and/or tights. In place of being ranked by belt, competitors are divided into 3 categories: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. For the Kids Jiu Jitsu ranking system, White belts are considered Beginners, Gray and Yellow belts are at the Intermediate level, and Orange and Green belts are categorized as Advanced competitors. In the Adult Jiu Jitsu ranking system, White belts are considered Beginners as well. Blue and Purple belts compete at the Intermediate level while Brown and Black belts compete as Advanced competitors. One of the only exceptions in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu tournaments are competitors who have prior experience in amateur wrestling. It is a controversial topic whether it’s fair for these experienced No-Gi grapplers to compete at the Beginner level or not. It is commonly suggested, and even mandatory at some Jiu Jitsu Tournaments, that wrestlers with 3-4 years of experience compete at the Intermediate or Advanced levels depending on how seasoned they are.

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