Posted By: Rob-Kassy
Posted On: 08 Jan, 2023

Belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Their Importance

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, just like in many other martial arts, rank and advancement is measured in terms of belts of solid colors and stripes that are worn at the waist of the “gi”, or uniform. Each color denotes a specific skill set or level of experience expected of a practitioner, and the stripes obtained within each belt level is a sign of advancement through that particular belt phase. 

With each belt comes a level of respect and code of conduct. While there are different criteria and methods that vary between schools and instructors, the standards and belt ranking system established by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation remains a popular and recognized system.  

In “no gi” competition, the tight-fitting upper-body rash guard may denote a belt ranking.  

Youth Belt Ranks

The IBJJF established a series of 13 belts for practitioners under the age of 16. Practitioners between the ages of 4 and 15 may achieve belt color rankings of: White, Gray, Yellow, Orange, and Green, with gradients between the colors (black and white stripes), as they progress. Upon the age of 16 they must then move to the adult belt ranking system. It is the prerogative of the instructor to place the student at rank they feel has been achieved. White belts however, remain white belts. Grey, yellow or orange may be returned to white, or advanced to blue. Green belts can return to white, or be advanced to blue or purple. 

Adult Belt Ranks

Adult belt ranks are based loosely on the amount of knowledge and skill proven by a student. These promotion criteria are based on the execution of a set of specific skills and techniques, and the demonstration of conceptual understanding. Mat etiquette, personal character, and dedication often play a role in advancement. Formal testing and competitions are often the most direct route to advancement through the belt ranks. This is the most immediate and direct demonstration of the student’s ability to apply techniques, and to display their proficiency against an opponent. There are stripes within each color belt rank that denotes progress through that particular rank.  

White Belt

This is where everyone starts. This is where your journey begins. The focus here is not winning, but rather losing with purpose. This is the foundational phase where you begin to learn the mechanics and the concepts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Newport News.

Blue Belt

First, to be a blue belt, you must be at least 16 years old, and have demonstrated a solid understanding of the foundational mechanics and concepts, and can comfortably spar (“roll”) with beginner students to demonstrate basic concepts. This is where students become more comfortable on the mat, and begin absorbing more advanced techniques.  

Purple Belt

The purple belt is considered to be the first “advanced” belt level in BJJ. This is the belt rank where competitions become more intense. Practitioners have developed their own personal style, and express themselves on the mat. Purple belts are often used as the “enforcer” on the mats of their home gyms when beginners who confuse strength and brute force with technique require a gentle lesson. 

Brown Belt

The Brown belt level is where students are often called upon to act as assistant instructors, and are expected to be very proficient in theory, technique, and execution. Additional advanced moves (sweeps and heel hooks) are permitted in competition at the brown belt level.

Black Belt

This is considered to be an honorable rank, and most instructors reserve it for students who demonstrate the highest levels of moral character. In Brazil, black belts are often referred to with the rank of “professor”. Black belts are instructors, and ambassadors for the art.

Advanced (Master) Belts:

Red & Black (Master)
Minimum of 50 years old. Must have earned the Black belt 31 years before.

Red & White (Master)
Minimum of 57 years old. Must wait 10 years before earning the next rank.

Red (Grand Master)
67 years or older. Currently only held by Gracie family members.

Begin your journey in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Breakaway Jiu Jitsu in Newport News. Call 757-233-0373.