BJJ Belt Progression: Unveiling the Secrets of Stripes

Last Updated February, 2024

A brazilian jiu jitsu belt with stripes

If you've ever been intrigued by the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), you might've come across practitioners proudly showcasing their belts wrapped in stripes.

But what are these stripes? And how do they function, especially at the pinnacle: black belt?

Let's demystify the world of BJJ stripes.

The Basics of BJJ Stripes

BJJ stands out in the martial arts world, revered for its emphasis on grappling, submissions, and ground game. As in many martial arts, belts signify progression.

BJJ, similar to other martial arts also introduces an intermediary ranking system through stripes.

BJJ stripes are horizontal bars, usually tape, awarded and attached to the end of belts. They offer insight into a practitioner's progress and achievements within a belt level.

Each belt rank up to black, has a maximum of four stripes within it.

Not all stripes are awarded chronologically. For example you could be a white belt for over an extended period of time with no stripes and suddenly you are awarded 3 stripes, similarly you may go from 1 stripe or even 0 to 4, all depending on your unique progress and the frequency of promotions at your club.

The more stripes on a belt indicate the more experience that a practitioner has at that belt level.

BJJ belt system with stripes white belt to brown
Belts from white to brown can have up to four stripes.

How are BJJ Stripes Awarded?

Factors that are considered towards the awarding of stripes can be but are not limited to:

  1. Technique Mastery: Progress in BJJ is often about depth of understanding. Earning a stripe often means you've improved your execution and comprehension of techniques.
  2. Consistency: Beyond mere attendance, regular active participation and consistent practice are what coaches look out for.
  3. Sparring and Competition Performance: Real-world application during sparring sessions and tournaments can significantly influence your stripe-earning potential.
  4. Attitude and Respect: Embracing the ethos of BJJ, which includes respect for the art, fellow students, and instructors, is crucial.
  5. Time: While progression isn't purely time-based, spending adequate time at each level is an aspect of the journey.

When can I expect to get stripes?

Stripes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are typically awarded at graduation seminars or during regular classes.

Your coach decides when you've earned a stripe based on your progress, skills and any other criteria that they deem to be relevant.

When it's your turn, they'll call you forward to add the stripe to your belt. Keep training, trust your coach's judgment, and your stripes will come when you've demonstrated your growth and dedication.

Enjoy the journey!

The Stripe Journey Leading to Black Belt

All belt ranking up to black belt have the potential to earn up to four stripes. After the fourth stripe, a student usually is promoted to the next belt color. The belt progression is:

  1. White belt.
  2. Blue belt.
  3. Purple belt.
  4. Brown belt.
  5. Black belt.

Stripes on the Black Belt

Earning a black belt is a monumental achievement, but the journey doesn't end there.

Black belt stripes work differently. Known as degrees, they represent years of dedication and teaching within the BJJ community:

  • 1st to 3rd Degree: Awarded every three years.
  • 4th to 6th Degree: Awarded every five years.
  • 7th and 8th Degree: Earned after seven years. Practitioners after earning these stripes will wear a coral belt (black and red) to signify their status.
  • 9th and 10th Degree: Reserved for the founding figures of BJJ. Practitioners at this level don a red belt.

These time-based promotions reflect a black belt's ongoing commitment to the art, their contributions, and their role as mentors.

BJJ belt system with stripes black belt to red
Stripe progression from black belt to red are know as degrees.


Stripes are more than just tape on a belt. They chronicle a practitioner's journey, commitment, and growth.

Especially at the black belt level, stripes stand testament to decades of dedication and service to the BJJ community.

Whether you're at the start of your BJJ journey or deep into the realm of regular training, each stripe and belt is a chapter in your unique martial arts story.

Keep rolling and making your mark!