How Many BJJ Red Belts Are There?

The red belt is awarded to grand masters of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu once they have reached their 9th to 10th degree in the martial art.

The red belt is the highest rank achievable for people who practice it, so this is a high honor. 

How Many BJJ Red Belts Are There

Red belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are only given out once the grand master has been a black belt for 48 years! That means continuing to practice the art for almost 50 years before you can become one of the few masters to hold a red belt in BJJ.

Today we are looking at how many people have earned the red belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

How Many People Hold A Red Belt In BJJ?

From open source research, it can be estimated that only 52 people have their very own red BJJ belt.

Many of these people, however, have now passed on due to it being so late in life when they are awarded their red belt. 

Let’s take a look at all of the grand masters who have achieved their red belt in BJJ. 

10th Degree Grand Masters With Red Belts

  • Carlos Gracie
  • Gastão Gracie
  • George Gracie
  • Oswaldo Gracie
  • Hélio Gracie

10th Degree Grand Masters With Red Belts (Not Related To The Gracie Family)

  • Luiz França (student of the same master who trained Carlos Gracie)
  • Oswaldo Fadda (student of Luiz Franca)

9th Degree Grand Masters With Red Belts

  • Alvaro de Melo Barreto
  • Amélio Arruda Câmara
  • Armando Wridt
  • Carley Gracie
  • Carlson Gracie
  • Carlos Antonio Rosado
  • Carlson Gracie, Sr
  • Deoclécio Paulo
  • Fernando Soares
  • Flavio Behring
  • Francisco Mansur
  • Francisco Sá
  • Geny Rebello
  • Helio Vigio Gomes
  • Jacê Paulino
  • João Alberto Barreto
  • João Fernandes Pinto
  • João Resende
  • Jose Senador Rosa
  • Julio Federico Secco
  • Luis Carlos Guedes de Castro
  • Nahum Rabay
  • Nilton Pereira
  • Osvaldo Alves
  • Oswaldo Carnivalle
  • Oswaldo Paquetá
  • Paulo Mauricio Strauch
  • Pedro Hemeterio
  • Pedro Valente
  • Relson Gracie
  • Renato Paquet
  • Reyson Gracie
  • Robson Gracie
  • Rorion Gracie
  • Walter Nogueira
  • Wilson Pereira De Mattos
  • Rickson Gracie
  • Orlando Saraiva
  • Pedro Emerito
  • Octavio de Almeida
  • José Higino
  • Geraldo Flores
  • Eduardo Gomes Pereira
  • Crézio Chavez
  • Candido Casale

There were two other names that we have found among our research for this article, but they could not be confirmed and therefore have been omitted from the list. 

History Of The Red Belt System In BJJ

History Of The Red Belt System In BJJ

From looking at the list above, you might be wondering why the Gracie family are the only ones to have achieved their 10th degree in the martial art. 

The Gracie family are a pivotal part of the martial arts community, and they were the creators of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, which is now more commonly known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

They created the martial art as well as the belt system. 

Before 1961, the Gracie family would all wear dark blue belts while their students wore white.

It wasn’t until around 1962 that the Gracie family decided that they would introduce a colored belt system to their martial art.

The original belt system looked like this: 

  • Students under 16 years of age:  white, yellow, orange and green belts. 

Students under this age bracket could also receive three degrees on each color belt.

Youth members would be eligible to increase in the ranking after every 40 classes, which was around 4 months of them training full time

  • Students over 16 years of age: white, blue, purple, brown and black belts. 

Adult students were able to earn four degrees on each belt color, aside from the white one.

They were eligible for promotion after around 60 classes, which would take between 6 and 8 months of full time training to complete. 

Both youth and adult students would usually remain a white belt for one year.

Each colored belt (aside from white) would come with a black bar which was used to identify the person’s degree.

One white stripe would be added for every degree that they passed. 

Practitioners of BJJ under the age of 18 are not allowed to receive a black belt, and these belts will usually take more than 10 years to achieve anyway. 

Life As A BJJ Black Belt

Once you have earned your black belt in BJJ, you would be able to achieve your first degree after two years of continuous training.

After 20 years of training or coaching, you could be promoted to the red and black belt which is otherwise known as the 7th to 8th degree. 

Once you have received the red and black belt, you can be considered a master of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

You can be promoted from 7th to 8th degree after two years after obtaining this belt. 

The 9th degree is the next promotion, but you will need to wait another 20 years for this title.

With the 9th degree you will also be awarded the red belt and considered a grand master of BJJ. 

With the Gracie family system in place, it will take you around 50 years to earn your red belt. 

What About The 10th Degree?

No one is promoted above a 9th degree red belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu out of respect for its creators, the Gracie family.

Carlos, Gastão, George, Oswaldo, and Hélio Gracie are the only members of the BJJ community to hold the 10th degree, and this is a sign of respect from the rest of the community. 

Summary

We hope that you have found this article interesting about how you can obtain your red belt in BJJ, and all of the grand masters who have done so already.

Earning your red belt is no easy feat – but if it were simple, everyone would be doing it! 

The honor of being awarded your red belt in BJJ is like no other, and is a true testament to your hard work and dedication to the martial art.

If you are setting out to achieve this high honor, then we commend your commitment and enthusiasm – good luck! 

Christopher Anderson