Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s (BJJ) belt ranking system is more strict than most other forms of martial arts. It can take you up to ten years or longer to earn your black belt. Because there are only a few belts, you will spend a long time trying to obtain each one. It is not uncommon to plateau for months before earning your next belt. This is where patience and mental strength comes in. Those who are successful in Jiu Jitsu understand that plateaus are an indicator of progress. It can take a while, but you should enjoy the process. Achieving your black belt isn’t something that will happen overnight but with hard work and determination, you can get there.
We have broken down what is expected for each belt. If you are new to Jiu Jitsu, you should understand what to expect as you move up from belt to belt.
The White Belt
As a White belt, you are learning the basics of Jiu Jitsu. To help you understand it better, think of BJJ as a jigsaw puzzle. What you learn when you are a White belt is like finding the edges and putting together the outline. As you progress from belt to belt, you fill in the center. This is the time that you learn the basics and you need to learn to relax. When you are a White belt, your main goal shouldn’t be winning. There are important goals that you need to reach while you are a White belt.
- Learning the name of each position and become familiar with them.
- Learn to control your ego and understand that you will be beaten by students who are more advanced than you. If you are naturally athletic, this can be difficult, and you should master it when you are a White belt.
- Get used to the feeling. While you are a White belt, you have the opportunity to learn the way your body moves on the ground. You should also learn how to resist an opponent when they are using their strength and weight.
- Choose a technique and work hard to master it.
The Blue Belt
The biggest thing to focus on as a Blue belt is your defense. Roger Gracie, (some say) the best Jiu Jitsu martial artist in the world, stated that he got so good by building off a solid defence. As a Blue belt, your focus should be on being able to escape from all of the major positions with ease. If there is one move that you should excel at as a Blue belt, that is passing the guard. It is one of the most challenging aspects of Jiu Jitsu. You are going to spend a lot of time in your opponents’ guards and you need to be experienced in dealing with this position. There are a few goals that you should set as a Blue belt.
- You should have mastered two solid escapes from Side Mount, Back Mount, and Mount.
- You should have mastered at least two techniques for passing the guard.
- You should compete in at least one competition. Whether you win or lose isn’t the issue. It is all about getting out there and doing it.
The Purple Belt
This is the belt where you focus on movement and momentum. You need to learn how to use the momentum of your weight and also the weight of your opponent to reach your movement objections. As a Purple belt, you won’t be wasting your momentum the way you likely did in your previous belts. Also, when you have your Purple belt, it is the time where you should start laying the foundation for everything that you do in the future. By now, you should have a very solid defence, and it is time to start working on your weaker areas, also known as the “holes in your game.” If you are going to be an excellent Purple belt, you should have a great offence that is dangerous from any position. You should also be starting to learn how to attack using a combination of techniques. It is at this point that your guard should be very strong. You should be familiar with all of the different guards, and also be very strong in not just one but preferably two. The goals that you should set while you are a Purple belt include:
- From the guard position, you should have at least three combination attacks.
- You should have three submissions from Mount, Side Mount, and Back Mount.
- You should be familiar with all of the variations of the Guard position.
The Brown Belt
As a brown belt, you aren’t yet a master, but there should be very few positions or situations that you are unfamiliar with. By this point, you should have your own style. If you have been putting in the work, as a Brown belt, you should be recognized as a top-player and an all-rounder. When you are a Brown belt, you should be able to start teaching others. It is when people achieve their Brown belt that some people find their passion for teaching. Teaching others is a great way to tie together everything that you have learned so far. By this point, you should be a master at all top positions. In Mount and Mount Side, you should be able to use your body weight so that your opponent feels every bit of it. You should also be able to pass the guard even if the window of opportunity is tiny. You should have a balance that is good enough to make it difficult to sweep. You should also have a counter for just about all of the common techniques. As a Brown belt, you should be one or two steps ahead of all lower-level opponents. You should also have several “signature” techniques. These are moves that you have mastered and will work on just about any opponent. The goals that you should set for yourself as a Brown belt include:
- See if you can teach a few classes.
- Work on perfecting your balance and weight distribution in any top position.
- You should be working on counters to the most common attack.
The Black Belt
As a Black belt, you are a master. By this point, you should know more about your body than ever before. You should also know your limitations. By now, you should be a dangerous martial artist. You need to work hard to be humble and respectful of others. You should only be using your skills to defend yourself and those less capable than you. As a Black belt, you should be able to take a basic movement that you have practiced thousands of times, and refine it to make it your own. You should know how to move and also how not to move. As a Black belt, your journey isn’t over. There are still goals that you need to strive for, which include:
- Remain humble, no matter what.
- Make it a point to continue to learn and to grow.
You should understand what to expect at each level in the BJJ belt system. When you know where you should be and what you need to be striving for, it will make you a better martial artist. You should use the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt system as a guide for your success.