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Understanding Adult Belt Ranks in Jiu-Jitsu

Different martial arts styles have different ways of identifying rank. For most adults practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, rank is determined by essentially five belts; white, blue, purple, brown, and black — six, if you count the very rare red.

Each belt signifies a different level of progression in a student’s jiu-jitsu training. The time each student takes to progress is different and depends on the student. Here is an idea of what to expect in each rank as an adult student practicing jiu-jitsu.

gracie barra brazilian jiu jitsu belt system blog post scottsdale maricopa az1. Jiu-Jitsu White Belt: Learning the Alphabet

This is where everyone starts. Every student will walk into a jiu-jitsu academy for the first time and put on a fresh gi and a white belt. At this stage, students feel nervous. There’s a lot of not knowing and being unsure of what to expect. At this stage in your jiu-jitsu journey, it’s best to listen and learn. Fundamental techniques obtained as a white belt are critical to the rest of your jiu-jitsu journey.

2. Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt: Forming Words

Up until I received my blue belt in jiu-jitsu, I wasn’t really attacking. As a white belt, I was so focused on learning how to defend myself that it actually took me a while to learn how to attack. It will typically take about a year to get to this level but it’s a feeling of great accomplishment when you do. The journey to a blue belt is very difficult and many people who start never make it this far.

3. Jiu-Jitsu Purple Belt: Forming Sentences

A purple belt is a big deal. It shows you are proficient enough in jiu-jitsu to understand and explain the fundamental techniques. A purple belt should be able to handle yourself comfortably in different situations against people of all sizes. Purple belts know the techniques and now are learning to chain those techniques for better flowing jiu-jitsu.

4. Jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt: Forming Paragraphs

Brown belts may just be one step below a black belt, but that doesn’t mean they’re not just as dangerous. You not only will have a firm understanding of the techniques, but of the philosophy as well. A brown belt is a role model for others in the school. In addition to chaining techniques, brown belts will set up techniques in different ways. Expect to them to be planning 2-3 moves ahead.

gracie barra scottsdale az brazilian jiu jitsu training etiquette5. Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt: Poetry

Jiu-jitsu should flow as a black belt. Techniques are set-up and planned in a tactical fashion, as opposed to random action. Black belts represent the face of the school he or she trains at.

While starting jiu-jitsu, many people have aspirations to one day wear a black belt. Along the way, they will run into obstacles, difficult times, frustrations, and ailments — to name a few.

The game, however, isn’t over at black belt. It starts again. My Professor once told me, “Yes, it takes many years to get your black belt, but you will be a black belt the rest of your life — longer than any other belt.”

The destination may be black belt, but that doesn’t mean the adventure is over. After all, a black belt is just a white belt that never gave up.

To see the entire IBJJF Graduation System, click here.

Learn About Gracie Barra Scottsdale

Gracie Barra is opening a new school in Scottsdale, AZ — one of many schools coming to Arizona, and the second in the state of Arizona. If you are interested in trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Gracie Barra Scottsdale, check out our Pre-Registration Special for a $100 coupon off your uniform & first month of classes, available only for the first 50 people who sign up! Learn more here.

~ Patrick J. Flores

writer patrick flores gracie barra brazilian jiu jitsu scottsdale azAbout the Author: Patrick’s love for martial arts began early on in life. He was greatly influenced by pop culture and the desire to mimic figures he saw on TV. This sparked his love affair with combat sports and the culture behind it. He obtained a BA in History from California State Polytechnic University Pomona and wrote his senior thesis on the development of Martial Arts within the United States. During this time, he practiced Karate, eventually receiving his black belt under Sensei Ray and Shawna Ginocchio in 2011. Soon after achieving his black belt in Karate, he began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Patrick is currently holding a purple belt under Professor Rafael Olivera and trains out of Gracie Barra Chino. In addition to training in jiu-jitsu, Patrick attends California State University Fullerton for his MBA. He hopes to one day use his experience, education, and passion for martial arts to develop a rewarding career.

Twitter: @patjflores
Instagram: @patjflores @bjjfotos

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