What’s the Difference between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts and Traditional Martial Arts Belts?
Belts in Jiu-Jitsu - Rankings GuideWhat Do The Stripes On Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts Mean?
Stripes on belts serve two main purposes:
- They help encourage lower ranking belts, such as white and blue belts, to persistently train while they earn these stripes instead of easily earning the next full belt rank.
Some practitioners may train for a year or two before they reach blue belt, and if they are not given a stripe on their belt, they would not have a tangible representation of their progress and may become discouraged and quit. Not being able to actually see their progression may lead them to assume that training is unproductive and an overall waste of time. Awarding stripe(s)—up to four—along the way to their next belt will help prevent discouragement and convince them to continually dedicate themselves wholly to the art.
- They help establish seniority and skill level within a certain belt rank within an academy. If a brand new blue belt rolls with a blue belt on the verge of earning his purple belt, the rookie blue belt may gravely lose and afterwards, becomes discouraged thinking that he does not deserve his own belt ranking because the other blue belt does not have any stripes on his belt denoting that he is a more advanced student. However, if those two exact same individuals were to roll in the academy and the blue belt who is ready for the purple belt has four stripes on his belt—it might help the situation. The newer “no-stripe” blue belt may not feel so discouraged when he is brutally defeated by the four-stripe blue belt. This also helps keep track of everyone’s skill level in the gym if there are many individuals holding the same belt rank—for example, white or blue belt.
What Are the Requirements For Each Brazilain Jiu Jitsu Belt?White Belt: A white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a beginner—no experience and absolutely new to the art. A white belt is someone who is still learning the basics of BJJ from the positions to basic fundamental submission and techniques. The general time spent as a white belt before promotion to blue belt can span anywhere from six months to two years—depending on the trainer’s athletic ability, time committed to training each week and how often he competes in competitions. Note that these factors influence promotion to all belts and not just from white to blue belt.Blue Belt: A blue belt is an experienced BJJ practitioner. A blue belt knows all the basic, fundamental techniques used in BJJ. He knows how to apply them in live gym sparring as well as in competition. A blue belt traditionally does not show technique, most traditional black belts never have their blue belts show any new techniques in class to lower ranks. This privilege is usually reserved for purple belts and above. Blue belts are still developing their own skills and/or series of techniques in which they favor for each of the positions. They are still experimenting with different combinations of attacks and generally attack in the moment and do not think too many steps ahead. This is because most blue belts are still discovering what techniques work with their style of jiu jitsu and their body type. The average time span spent as a blue belt is a year and a half to three years.Purple Belt: A purple belt is finally starting to develop his game and has his own “go-to” techniques that he favors in each position and these techniques are refined very well along with the basic fundamentals of BJJ. A purple belt has an intermediate understanding of attacking in combinations and the idea of “invisible jiu jitsu,” meaning that he tends not to force things but rather, to take what his opponents give him, relying more on his technique than his strength. The average time spent as a purple belt can range anywhere from one to three years.Brown Belt: Brown belt is an elite rank. If an individual wants to begin his own academy, it is at least a brown belt that is most traditionally acceptable. A brown belt has the knowledge of a black belt, he has a mastery of all basic fundamental techniques and he has shown an ability to think quickly ahead and apply techniques in combination in order to finish off his opponent quickly. During this stage in one’s training, he must be able to effectively show technique and help junior belts properly apply technique. With that being said, a black belt in BJJ is not guaranteed. If an instructor thinks a certain person does not exhibit the certain qualities to earn a black belt, he will not be awarded a black belt—ever. Most practitioners who reach their brown belt do go on to attain their black belt. Coinciding with learning how to teach, the time spent as a brown belt is a time used to further refine one’s technique and overall game before advancing on to the rank of black belt. Traditionally, most do not spend an elaborate amount of time as a brown belt. The average time spent as a brown belt is one to two years.Black Belt: This is an elite rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Generally, it takes the average person training two to three times a week, eight to ten years to earn his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, a person who trains more frequently and competes often can achieve his black belt in a shorter period of time.
A black belt has mastered all fundamental techniques and has demonstrated this time and time again in the gym along with the ability to attack in combinations and flow from technique to technique without use of strength.
A black belt has a further understanding of “invisible Jiu Jitsu,” and takes what his opponents give him. A black belt can also manipulate his opponents into moving into positions or submissions the latter is not aware of.
Black belts also receive stripes, known as “degrees.” The first three degrees are given every three years—a black belt receives his third degree after nine years. After that, it becomes much more complicated. The time spent in each degree after that becomes five years, then seven years and even longer after that.
A black belt can promote someone from brown belt to black belt, and he must be at least a third degree black belt in order to award a junior black belt a degree
When it comes to the construction of the belt, the most obvious difference is the bar-shaped patch at one end of a BJJ belt—traditional martial arts belts do not have this patch. White, blue, purple and brown belts have a black patch and black belts have a red patch at one end of the belt. This patch is used to place awarded stripes. Another main difference between both is that BJJ belts are constructed for increased durability.
What is the Red Patch on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Mean?
The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) website’s graduation system makes no reference to the red patch/bar, though it is common that the red patch indicates the black belt is an instructor as well. Though controversial, some black belts award their junior instructors the red patch at the rank of purple and brown belt. Whether or not they are instructors, most bloack belts wear a red bar on their black belt. Also, most Jiu Jitsu gear companies only sell black belts with red patches.