Belt promotions are some of the most exciting occasions in a BJJ practitioner’s journey. This is the time when you get something physical that acknowledges your hard work, growth, and dedication to the sport.
If you’re new to BJJ, you might be wondering how often these promotions happen. How long does it take for a white belt to go to blue, or a blue to go to purple? How long does it take to become a black belt?
There aren’t any easy answers to these questions, so we’ve written the article below to outline some of the typical conventions in the sport and outline different belts and timeframes for when these promotions happen.
What Are The BJJ Belts?
BJJ belts are used to represent different levels of skill. There are different colors for kids and for adults, and a few differences depending on where you are in the world.
We’re going to break each belt and its meaning down in the space below.
- White – this represents that a child is just starting their BJJ journey. It shows others and themselves that they are new and are just getting to grips with some of the fundamentals.
- Gray – Gray belts represent the next steps of a child’s journey. This usually means they’re familiar with some of the most basic positions, submissions, and defenses involved in grappling.
- Yellow – Yellow is a mid-range belt that shows a child is becoming well-versed in BJJ and is ready to start learning more complex techniques and more nuanced positions.
- Orange – Orange is the belt that shows a child has dedicated themselves to BJJ for a long time and is likely very well-versed in some of the beginner aspects of BJJ. Whilst not every child will compete, this belt is often taken by kids who are confident enough to be able to roll safely and participate in competitions.
- Green – this is the final step for most kids who practice BJJ. It either shows that they’ve been training for a long time, or that they are a fast learner and already competing and extending their passion for the sport. Green is the final belt before the transition to adult belts, and some kids may skip the adult white belt altogether should they reach green.
- White – much like white belts for kids, this usually signifies the first steps of a person’s BJJ journey. White belts typically learn early skills involving full guard, basic submissions and defenses, as well as some simple sweeps. A white belt is likely to get stuck in positions such as full guard that more experienced practitioners know how to deal with. White belts usually get quick lessons in humility also, as they are the least experienced and most vulnerable in the class.
- Blue – Blue belt usually represents that you’ve dedicated around 6-12 months of time to the sport and that you’re very confident with the fundamentals of the martial art.
- Purple – Purple belts are much more difficult to achieve, often taking a span of years, and they mean that you are very comfortable with all of the fundamentals as well as some more complex positions, submissions, and sweeps. A Purple belt also means that you’re likely to be very confident in rolling, and able to help others of lower belts learn. If a practitioner is interested in teaching, the purple belt is usually the lowest belt you’ll be allowed to get involved in.
- Brown – you can think of a brown belt as the point where you’re beginning to become an expert at BJJ. You will be extremely hard to deal with when rolling with people of lower belts, and you’ll start to develop your own style. But more than this, you’re going to have complete mastery over the fundamentals. A lot of brown belts will be regularly competing and enjoy supporting and teaching others.
- Black – Black belt is the mark of a ten-year + commitment that shows you are a master of the sport. You will have your own unique style, and complete mastery over many of the different aspects of the sport, and you’ll begin to create new, dynamic ways of competing. There aren’t many black belts in the world, and many of them choose to find their own BJJ gyms.
- Red – Red belts are reserved for those who have a long history with the sport and have made suitable contributions. Red belts show complete mastery and often signify that the person in question has changed the sport in some way. There have been very few red belt holders in the world.
When Do Belt Promotions Usually Happen?
BJJ is different from other martial arts, in that to get a belt promotion you won’t have to go through grading. There are no real grades in BJJ, with belts being awarded once a coach is suitably happy with your progress.
This can vary wildly depending on the gym or BJJ system you’re learning, but usually what happens is when a coach believes you are ready, they will present you with a new belt.
This often happens at the end of class. The coach will gather everyone, usually to sum up the central lesson of that specific class, and then they will promote somebody in front of the class, giving them their new belt color.
This is usually followed by a round of applause from that person’s fellow classmates and lots of congratulations.
One thing to note here is that the timeframes we outlined in our belt section above are not meant to be exact. Some people take much longer for promotion than others, depending on their coach, and how they conduct themselves in class.
If you feel as if you’re in line for a belt promotion, but it’s just not arriving, just know that it’s best to be patient and to trust your coach.
We hope that this guide has taught you everything you need to know about belt promotions in BJJ and wish you the best of luck in your martial arts journey, no matter your level or training goals!