Belt Levels in Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide to BJJ Belts & Ranking Systems

Belt Levels in Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide to BJJ Belts & Ranking Systems

Belt Levels in Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide to BJJ Belts & Ranking Systems

In Jiu-Jitsu, the belt system is an important signifier of an individual’s mastery of the sport, with each belt color indicating a student’s level of advancement in their course of study. And if you’ve ever wondered how many BJJ belts are in jiu-jitsu, a student will progress through five color stages: white, blue, purple, brown, and black.

But the meaning of your Jiu-Jitsu belt and the method for progressing through the stages is a bit more complicated. Within each belt color ranking are substages indicated by adding white stripes, which must be accumulated before the practitioner moves on to a higher belt. 

So, what are the various jiu-jitsu belt ranks, and what do they mean?

White Belt

The first belt you wear as a Jiu-Jitsu student is the white colored belt. The color signifies your newness to the martial art as well as your desire to one day master the moves, techniques, and philosophies that guide Jiu-Jitsu. 

There are no age requirements for the white belt. Children as young as five or six wear it, as do adults who are just starting out. 

A white Jiu-Jitsu belt tied in a knot branded by Hayabusa.

White Belt Timeline and Knowledge Level 

You’ll need to practice as a white belt for at least two years before advancing to a higher belt. Students who are not yet 16 years of age will remain at this belt ranking until they’re old enough to advance. 

There are four stripes a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner must earn as a white belt before progressing to the next stage, but the qualifications for those stripes will likely depend on where they study. 

As a white belt, you’ll learn the basics of Jiu-Jitsu. That includes training and competition etiquette, as well as a few basic moves. White belts seek to master:

  • Basic escape moves
  • Basic holding positions
  • Basic advancing positions

Blue Belt

The blue colored belt represents the intermediate level of Jiu-Jitsu study. To wear this belt, you must be at least 16 years of age and have completed at least two years of study at the white belt level. 

A blue Jiu-Jitsu belt tied in a knot branded by Hayabusa.

Blue Belt Timeline and Knowledge Level

You’ll have two years to complete your blue belt-level studies. During that time, you’ll continue to learn moves for escaping, holding, and advancing and how to apply them in combination. You’ll also begin experimenting with:  

  • Setups
  • Baiting
  • Submissions

To graduate from the blue belt level, you’ll need to acquire four stripes, waiting six months between each.

Purple Belt

The purple belt indicates that you are an advanced student of Jiu-Jitsu. It means you have mastered the skills required to build good technique and perform smoothly on the mat. 

A purple Jiu-Jitsu belt tied in a knot branded by Hayabusa.

Purple Belt Timeline and Knowledge Level

As a purple belt, you’ll continue to prove yourself as a competent and controlled Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Your rolls will be relaxed, and you’ll perform attack maneuvers with grace and precision. You’ll also improve your combinations and setups.

Finally, those who wear the purple belt are more self-aware fighters, able to determine their limitations and work to get better. You’ll perform this work for about one and a half years and accumulate four stripes. 

Brown Belt

The brown colored belt is the first expert level you’ll reach as a student of Jiu-Jitsu. It is only given to students at least seventeen years of age. 

A brown Jiu-Jitsu belt tied in a knot branded by Hayabusa.

Brown Belt Timeline and Knowledge Level

At this stage, you can perform attacks in long, successive series and accomplish complicated setups. You’ll have gained extensive knowledge and know most of the moves for:

  • Attacking
  • Defending
  • Submitting

There are four stripes required for the brown belt stage. You must practice as a brown belt for at least one year before moving on to the next belt rank. However, this is a best-case scenario, and more likely than not, it will take longer than a year to learn and master brown-belt level skills.

Black Belt

As the belt that indicates the most advanced status, many people think that wearing the black colored belt means you have gone as far as you can with Jiu-Jitsu. But the truth is, even senior black belts are still learning and improving their skills. 

A black Jiu-Jitsu belt tied in a knot branded by Hayabusa.

Black Belt Timeline and Knowledge Level

You must be eighteen years old to achieve the black belt level. When you achieve it, you’ll have thirty-one years to master the skills fully. By this point, you’ll have learned nearly all Jiu-Jitsu moves and techniques and will have the ability to perform them at the highest level. 

There are six stripes included in the black belt level. They are acquired over the course of years, generally according to the following schedule:

  • Three years each for first, second, and third stripes
  • Five years each for fourth, fifth, and sixth stripes

After Black Belt

Jiu-Jitsu practitioners study at the black belt rank for decades before another belt promotion. During that time, they become true masters of the sport, intimately acquainted with every aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. They instruct others, compete, and train endlessly to improve themselves. 

In very rare cases, black belt fighters are promoted to red belt status, the highest belt of jiu-jitsu belt ranks. Those who achieve this belt ranking have devoted their lives to Jiu-Jitsu and, in some cases, have worn the black belt for 45 years or more.

A custom coral Jiu-Jitsu belt made for Master Carlos Machado coiled up on a Machado x Hayabusa Jiu-Jitsu Gi.

Hayabusa Through Every Belt Progression

Over the course of your advancement through each belt in your Jiu-Jitsu journey, whether it's learning how to properly tie your Jiu-Jitsu belt for training or competition or you want to explore Muay Thai vs. Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll need quality equipment that you can rely on. When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu gis, hand wraps, protective gear, and even gym bags or other athletic apparel, you can count on Hayabusa for the best equipment and apparel.

Started in 2006 and providing the fundamental clothing and equipment fighters need, Hayabusa has grown into one of the sport's most recognizable brands. Shop our collections today.