What are the BJJ Belt Requirements?
Depends on who you ask.
Every school has their own standards, but the goal is to create proficient practitioners who can successfully protect themselves (or win in competition, if you’re in that type of school).
Keep in mind, BJJ Belt Requirements are vastly different at times. If you’re an active competitor, your BJJ Belt Requirements can be way different from a non-competitor’s BJJ Belt Requirements in the same school!
Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not the school observes the standards set by the IBJJF. Kama Jiu-Jitsu | bjjindallas.com does not adhere to the IBJJF requirements. We go by the traditional standards set forth by Helio Gracie and the standards set forth by the Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation (JJGF). Where this plays out most is 1) we don’t generally stripe white belts, 2) we have traditional kids’ belt colors of white, yellow, orange, and green (with three stripes on each), 3) we don’t give belts for no-gi only, 4) character traits of humbleness, empathy, gentleness, caring, generosity, and restraint play a role in awarding rank.
The general progression at Kama Jiu-Jitsu Dallas Fort Worth | bjjindallas.com is:
White to Blue: Know the Rickson Gracie self defense curriculum, and be proficient in each of the basic positions, and know and understand their appropriate transitions.
Blue to Purple: Learn advanced techniques to build on your knowledge of the basics from White Belt. Learn to train and practice properly with other people. You will also develop the skill set of applying restraint while training with lower belts.
Purple to Brown: Learn more advanced techniques to further build on your knowledge of the advanced techniques you picked up while a Blue Belt. Also, learn how to string your techniques together in sequences. While white and blue belts all learn to use and identify submissions, the purple belt level is where you become “dangerous” to the upper belts.
Brown to Black: Take those sequences you honed while a Purple Belt, and develop “your game.” You will know by now what your “go to” moves are and can execute those sequences flawlessly and like clockwork.
How long for each belt under your BJJ Belt Requirements?
It varies, of course. But, for argument’s sake, let’s take the “typical” scenario.
Assuming someone who trains consistently in group classes or practice sessions outside of class at least 3x/week. Also, a student who takes an active role in CORRECTLY drilling the correct techniques, at the correct time, with his Professor’s guidance, then:
White BJJ Belt Requirements: 6-12 months
First of all, LEARN TO CORRECTLY TIE YOUR BELT!! If you haven’t yet seen my tutorial on correctly tying your belt, check this out:
– The shortest, but most important belt. Remember how in grade school, those who didn’t learn to read and write correctly in the lower grades had a hard time later on the upper grades? Same thing. It all starts at white belt. If your foundation is not taught to you correctly, and your professor doesn’t develop your habits correctly in this crucial time, you will be correcting mistakes for the remainder of your journey. I can’t tell you how many times, we have students from other schools come to our academies wearing a blue/purple/brown/black belt, and they lack even the most basic knowledge that ALL of our white belts know. There have been many, many times where our lower belts (with their superior basics) utterly have their way with visitors ranked much higher. Personally, we hate to see that, because we all know how hard one works to earn their rank. But, just as all practitioners are not created equal, not all professors are created equal as well.
When Master Rickfson does seminars, he only covers basic concepts. The reason, is that he says he doesn’t come across attendees (mostly black belts) at his seminars who have an adequate command of the basics that would then allow him to introduce his advanced concepts. Always the perfectionist, he would often display signs of frustration when upper belts did not have a command of the basics. He (and we) WANTS to teach the advanced concepts. It’s just that it’ll do people absolutely no good unless their basics are strong.
Another important concept for you to master while you’re still a white belt (you will NOT graduate to blue belt without mastering this) is to “trust” the techniques and positions by relying on the techniques to get you out of trouble and not your physical size, strength, and explosiveness. This is especially challenging to those of us who are “big and strong” athletic-types to begin with. Not so with men of small stature, women, and children. Beating other members with size and strength with sloppy technique is not jiu-jitsu; it’s brawling.
The reason why we try to establish trust in the techniques at such at an early stage is because the worst thing to do is to allow the lack of trust in technique to become a habit. There are countless “strong men” who were allowed to progress through blue and then purple belt using their strength to get them out of trouble. At that point, they stagnate, their smaller more technically-minded classmates end up overtaking them in matches, and they can’t figure out how come they don’t progress any higher and don’t get any better. I’ve seen men who’ve been training for years (well over a decade) without progressing technically. Despite this, many jiu-jitsu schools will continue to advance these students for “time served.”
Being advanced because of “time served” does no one any good. It gives the student a false sense of achievement, by awarding him with something he didn’t actually earn. He does not display the knowledge, nor does he display the technical ability he should display to earn a higher rank. It hurts him in sparring sessions when he is utterly dominated by lower seniority, albeit technically sound, lower ranked belts. It makes their professor look bad because he didn’t take the time and effort needed to train his student properly, and promoted him by merely “checking his punchcard.”
Lastly, if this black belt runs a school, it does a disservice to his students because he is passing on to his students, his substandard technical ability. At Kama Jiu-Jitsu, we feel its better to take care of that while their journey is still in its infancy, before the habit becomes “hard-wired” into their central nervous system and muscle-memory.
Generally, we prefer black belts to teach the majority of our sessions (if not all). Better to ensure we teach our students the correct way from the beginning. By the end of your white belt journey, you’ll be rolling well with any white belt, and most blue belts. Your defensive instincts and skills will be solid. By the end of your white belt, you will be “street ready.”
The white belt level is the most important and critical level for any practitioner.
Blue BJJ Belt Requirements: 2-3 years
– This belt should only be given once the student has a strong command of the basics. As a blue belt, you will learn more ways to apply chokes, armlocks, passes, etc. You will begin to learn how “tightness” and “weight” plays into the whole game. You will also begin learning more complicated maneuvers that require a solid foundation to successfully accomplish. While you will have learned all the self defense curriculum while a white belt, by the time you complete your blue belt, they will be well ingrained into your muscle-memory. When I can “spot” a blue belt a setup to a submission, and when he can tap me without me being able to escape, he might be ready for his purple belt. By the end of your blue belt, you will be “street proficient.” If you haven’t been with us through a summer with us while a white belt, you will have begun to train no-gi during your blue belt.
Purple BJJ Belt Requirements: 3-4 years
– Purple belts are beginning to become “dangerous” to other higher level training partners. In other words, if an upper belt lets a proficient purple belt get too much, the upper belt is liable to be tapped. When a purple belt is able to not only submit a higher belt when “spotted” a submission, but can setup and take a submission opportunity all on his own, he is likely ready for brown belt consideration. Higher level purple belts are beginning to teach lower belts (especially blue belts) techniques. Those who wish to, will enter instructor training programs at this time.
Brown BJJ Belt Requirements: 2-3 years
– Brown belts no longer need to be “spotted” a setup to a submission; they can take it pretty much at will. They have a solid command of every conceivable basic move and setup, and have learned the vast majority of the current submissions and setups that are popular to at least a rudimentary degree, if not, to a highly advanced degree. Brown belts have often been referred to as “black belts in hiding.” Technically, they may be every bit as good as many black belts. The remaining requirements usually have to do with “fine-tuning” some aspects of their game. A brown belt is also “auditioning” for a black belt, which requires levels of maturity, tolerance, empathy, loyalty, and respect for fellow practitioners as well as others that is not required of those wearing lower-ranking belts. Brown belts have taken on some responsibility of teaching all the lower belt students. For those who wish to earn their “professor bars” as a black belt, they will enter the instructor training program, if they have not during their purple belt.
An example of what is described above was how Master Rickson “auditioned” Professor Dave Kama. Master Rickson kept Professor Dave at brown belt for over 5 years, which is long by today’s standards. Dave was also expected to regularly make it up to Rickson’s Los Angeles headquarters to train. It was commonplace for top-level black belts from around the world to come and visit and “drop-in” to a class. Time and again, Dave was expected to train with these black belts and show himself to be representative of Master Rickson’s brand of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Even as a brown belt, Dave never failed to exhibit Rickson’s advanced concepts, to the frustration of many, many top black belts.
Black BJJ Belt Requirements
Currently, only Professor Dave Kama, Professor Fernando Costa, or Master Rickson Gracie will be awarding black belts at Kama Jiu-Jitsu Dallas Fort Worth | bjjindallas.com.
Total Time For BJJ Belt Requirements to be met: 7.5+ years minimum. Some caveats for the above BJJ Belt Requirements…
1. Students who take regular privates in addition to their group classes naturally progress through the ranks faster. There is something to be said for individual instruction. But that’s up to the student and the Professor to determine. It is not uncommon for a student who supplements their group training sessions with TARGETED private sessions, to have a better command of the concepts than someone who just attend group sessions.
Here is a short video I did on the subject of private and group sessions.
2. Students who don’t train consistently, cannot expect to progress as quickly as those who train more consistently, or more often. It’s as simple as that.
3. Students who don’t frequently have their outside training sessions evaluated by their professor run the risk of developing bad habits. Remember, it’s not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice, that makes perfect. Bad habits will lengthen your time to your next promotion.
4. At Kama Jiu-Jitsu Dallas Fort Worth | bjjindallas.com, we strive for technical proficiency in all our students. After all, we have a reputation to uphold! Given the general BJJ belting standards of late, it’s becoming ever so clear, that our students have a better command of the basics than many of our counterparts’ similarly-ranked students. I am not saying our students know all the latest and greatest competition techniques. Far from that! For all our students, we focus on superior basics, the way Master Rickson Gracie (and now, Professor David Kama) did. Imagine it this way; we are trying to plant forests of redwoods. We don’t bother with planting the flowers at the forest floor until we’re done making sure the sequoias in your forest have fully taken root and begun to grow!
That better command of the basics tends to make our students much more proficient overall than other students at their belt level. Although we have been accused of it, WE DO NOT HOLD OUR STUDENTS’ PROMOTIONS BACK!!! They get promoted when they fulfill their particular BJJ Belt Requirements.
That being said, if one student is particularly powerful, but is sloppy and executes the techniques on a level 5 out of 10 and is still able to get his desired result, he will be worked with intensively to get him to work the technique to at least an 8 out of 10 before he will be promoted. Just because you can pass everyone’s guard, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re technically sufficient. Overall BJJ proficiency is the combination of technical skill, and physical “gifts.” At Kama Jiu-Jitsu Dallas | bjjindallas.com, we seek to subtract out the “gifts” and just focus on your technical skill. Then, you will be able to augment your superior technical skill with your superior physical abilities.
To try out Kama Jiu-Jitsu Dallas Fort Worth | bjjindallas.com, be sure to call and ask for your free week!
For any further questions, feel free to call us at 682-233-0721.
Or, you can visit us at:
1121 Flower Mound Rd (FM3040)
Flower Mound, TX 75028
(We are located inside Mid-Cities Martial Arts Studio, near the Kroger Gas Station)