Understand the Journey: Unraveling the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt System

Last Updated May, 2024


I’m a white belt that never gave up. And that’s the mentality I want my students to get. The belt is the least thing you have to worry (about).

Jiu Jitsu is more than just a martial art – it's a personal journey that evolves with time, discipline, and commitment.

At the heart of this captivating odyssey lies the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) belt system, a unique and colorful symbol of your growth and skill level.

There are five primary belts in BJJ: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black.

Each belt up to black can have up to four stripes.

Black belts can have degrees, ranging from 1st to 6th-degree black belt.

There are belts that come after achieving the black belt — we'll discuss those a bit later.

First let's dive into this intricate system, explore the goals at each belt level, and gauge how long you might spend in each stage of this fascinating expedition.

White Belt – Embrace Basics

BJJ belt white belt

Beginning with the white belt, the journey of a BJJ practitioner commences.

This stage is all about embracing the fundamentals and getting comfortable with basic techniques and positions.

The white belt stage is often the most challenging, as you are learning not just moves, but a whole new way of thinking.

However, it's also incredibly rewarding, as every class brings new lessons and skills.

You can expect to spend anything from 1 to 3 years at this level.

But remember, everyone's journey is unique – it's not about how fast you get to the next level, but about mastering the skills you need to move forward confidently.

Blue Belt – Building on Basics

BJJ blue belt

The blue belt is the next step in your BJJ journey, representing a deeper understanding of the art.

At this level, you're expected to have a solid grasp of fundamental techniques and begin developing your unique style.

Fine tuning your submission game and defending against more experienced practitioners becomes a significant focus, and you're encouraged to participate in sparring sessions more frequently.

Typically, the blue belt journey can last between 2 to 3 years. It's not just about surviving, but evolving - transforming challenges into stepping stones.

Purple Belt – Harness the Art

BJJ purple belt

Once you've earned your purple belt, you've proved that you're no longer close to a beginner.

You've mastered essential techniques and are now ready to dive into more complex territory.

The purple belt stage is all about refining your style, becoming more strategic, and understanding how to adapt in varying scenarios.

Most BJJ students spend around 1.5 to 3 years at the purple belt stage.

It's about polish, finesse, and learning how to fluidly integrate your knowledge during combat.

It's said if you make it to purple, you'll likely make it to black.

Brown Belt – Embrace Mastery

BJJ brown belt

The brown belt signifies an advanced level of proficiency. At this level, you're expected to showcase a comprehensive understanding of BJJ, displaying versatility, strategy, and a high technical grasp.

Teaching lower belts often becomes a part of the journey, refining your own skills even further.

Brown belts usually take around 1 to 2 years before making their promotion to black.

Brown is about embodying the martial art in every sense, reflecting a true understanding of BJJ inside and out.

Black Belt – Epitome of Perseverance and... the beginning

BJJ black belt

The black belt is the epitome of perseverance, skill, and dedication. It's not just about mastery of techniques, but about showcasing an exemplary attitude and commitment to the BJJ lifestyle.

Black belts often play the role of a mentor, passing on their knowledge to the next generation. Usually progressing to a role of coach or considering opening their own academy.

Achieving a black belt often takes at least a decade or more of dedicated practice.

The time spent is not merely a measure of skill, but a reflection of the practitioner's spirit, discipline, and the journey undertook to get here.

Coral Belt (Red and Black)

BJJ coral red and black belt

Beyond the black belt lies the coral belt. It is a blend of red and black or red and white colors. Reaching the coral belt stage is an exceptional accomplishment that reflects decades of dedication to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The coral belt is an acknowledgment of not just the individual's technical skill and understanding, but also their contribution to the art of BJJ as a whole.

The journey to coral belt is not a short one.

After earning a black belt, practitioners spend anything from 3-7 years at each black belt degree before being considered for the next.

It typically takes around 31 years of total BJJ practice to earn a red-and-black coral belt.

This means that reaching the level of coral belt may take 20 years or more after receiving a black belt.

Coral Belt (Red and White)

BJJ coral red and white belt

After receiving the red-and-black coral belt, the practitioner continues their journey. It generally takes around 7 years as a red-and-black coral belt to progress to the red-and-white coral belt.

Achieving coral belts requires more than just time and skill.

These belts often denote not only technical mastery but also leadership within the BJJ community, as well as significant contributions to the sport.

The coral belt, in both its forms, is the ultimate mark of a true master of BJJ

Red Belt

BJJ red belt

The red belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the highest rank achievable.

It represents a lifetime of dedication to BJJ. It is the pinnacle of the BJJ journey, achieved by only a handful of practitioners in the history of the sport.

However, it's not something that just anyone can achieve. In the vast majority of cases, red belts are awarded to practitioners who have made extraordinary contributions to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Additionally, age and time in practice are also considered.

Most BJJ governing bodies require the practitioner to be over the age of 50, with at least a few decades of experience in the sport, before they can be considered for a red belt.

From a black belt, the journey to a red belt would typically span over 30 years.

Keep Training!

The BJJ belt system is not just a reflection of your technical prowess, but also your personal growth, discipline, and commitment to this incredible martial art.

Remember, though, the belt shouldn't be the goal – it's about the journey, the lessons learned, and the person you become along the way.

Every practitioner's journey is different – focus on your own growth rather than the pace of others.

Keep honing your skills, embrace each learning curve, and above all, never stop never stopping!