BJJ Belts Explained: How long does it take to get a black belt in jiu jitsu?
BJJ belts are the way of showcasing your Jiu Jitsu stage. If we had to put a number to it, the general consensus is that it takes about 10 years to get a BJJ black belt in jiu jitsu. Yup, 10 years!
But there are different types of black belts, as it wouldn’t make sense to compare a high-level competitor in their twenties to a lady in her fifties who trains recreationally. But these two individuals may both be quality black belt practitioners in their own regards.
Unlike some other martial arts where black belts are given out to children or and adults alike, getting this black belt is not that easy. Not only does a jiu jitsu practitioner have to know various techniques, sequences, and concepts, the individual must have demonstrated a certain degree of personal character development that merits the highest rank in the sport.
Indeed, getting a black belt in jiu jitsu is quite an accomplishment, yet one that appears to have fairly vague requirements. Besides a general rule of spending a few years at each belt rank, and demonstrating a basic level of technical proficiency and conceptual understanding, your fate lies in your instructor’s hands.
Many great coaches advise their students to keep their heads down (so to speak – beware of guillotines!), keep training hard, and try their best not to worry about belt promotions. Stick around on the mats for years and your black belt will take care of itself.
In the meantime, keep reading to find out the specifics of how long it can take to get a black belt in jiu jitsu, as well as what each belt means for your progression!
If you’re interested in processing faster, you should learn about mindset and BJJ flowcharts.
BJJ White Belts – Unconscious Incompetence
At white belt, you don’t even know what you don’t know.
White belt is all about learning – you’re still learning the names of all of the sweeps, passes, and submissions your training partners are using to crush you!
This belt is all about taking the time to be in every position, feel every strangle, arm lock and leg lock, and soak up as much information as you can about concepts instead of individual techniques.
White belt is where you begin to organize the puzzle pieces on the table before you even begin to think of piecing some together. White belt is about taking inventory, and that starts with experiencing everything there is to experience (and yes, that almost always means being crushed for a few months… at least!).
BJJ Blue Belts – Conscious Incompetence
Now that you know which moves your teammates are using to get the better of you, you can begin to understand basic systems and start to predict techniques before they happen.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always be able to do something about it, but at least you’ll be better off than you were at white belt!
Many head instructors use defence as a basic benchmark for awarding a blue belt to students. From here, students have the chance to develop their defence and begin to understand and develop some attacks.
Because the blue belt represents that an individual possesses a basic understanding of the art, many students quit training after they are awarded this belt. Unfortunately, they will never experience the many benefits of being a purple, brown, and a black belt, continued below.
BJJ Purple Belts – Conscious Incompetence
You’ve spent the time getting crushed at white belt. You’ve started to see improvements in understanding and execution at blue belt.
Now you can start to put together a game for yourself while experimenting with more complicated techniques, positions, and concepts.
Purple belt is where you spend the time touching on every part of the jiu jitsu world in terms of moves and ideas on the mat, strength and conditioning off the mats, and engaging with your awesome jiu jitsu community.
This is where you truly begin to develop your jiu jitsu identity, but the next belt is where things really start to come together.
BJJ Brown Belts – Unconscious Competence
Brown belts are just black belts in disguise. They are capable and competent, but often unaware of their abilities and not yet confident enough to have the prestigious black belt tied around their waist.
Oftentimes, brown belt is when students are expected to begin to dabble in teaching. Instruction is one way of fortifying learning, but also a great way to demonstrate one’s own competence and understanding.
With black belt so close away, it may feel as though the entirety of brown belt is like an ongoing evaluation. In a sense, it is, but don’t worry. At this point, persistence is all that you’ll need to get the most meaningful belt promotion of your jiu jitsu life.
BJJ Black Belts – Conscious Competence
You may not be an expert at every single position, technique, and concept, but you have a better understanding of the game of jiu jitsu as a whole better than most individuals alive.
That’s something to be proud of.
A black belt embodies the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the gentle art. Before anything else, they have proved themselves to be formidable humans who are fully in control of their thoughts, actions, and energy during training and competition.
Black belts in jiu jitsu are not just handed out after a couple years of semi-consistent participation. They represent a serious accomplishment and most people will never embark on a similar endeavour in their entire lives.
BJJ Red belts – Ultimate Conscious Competence
Red belt means a whole lot of mat time (like… decades of mat time).
So don’t worry about the red belt – getting a black belt is a hard task enough for now!
How Long, you say? Jiu Jitsu For Life
At the end of the day, belts don’t mean much.
If you’re committed to the art, you’ll be on the mats for as long as your body allows.
With an attitude like that, it doesn’t matter what colour of cloth is wrapped around your waist.