Understanding the Belt System in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

snow alex
Published on Jun 08, 2023

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on ground fighting and grappling techniques. One of the defining aspects of BJJ is its belt system, which signifies a practitioner's level of skill and knowledge. In this article, we will explore the belt system in BJJ, its significance, and the journey that practitioners undertake to progress through the ranks.

Origins and Purpose of the Belt System:

The belt system in BJJ traces its roots back to the traditional Japanese martial art of Judo, which was later adapted and modified by the Gracie family in Brazil. The system serves as a means to track a student's progress and provides a clear structure for training and advancement.

The Progression of Belts:

The BJJ belt system follows a specific hierarchy, starting with the white belt and progressing through blue, purple, brown, and black belts. Each belt level represents a different stage of proficiency and is accompanied by specific requirements and expectations.

White Belt: The Beginning:

The white belt is the starting point for all BJJ practitioners. It signifies a beginner level and focuses on learning fundamental techniques, positions, and principles. White belts often spend a significant amount of time developing a solid foundation in BJJ.

Blue Belt: Building a Solid Foundation:

The blue belt represents the first significant milestone in a practitioner's journey. It signifies a level of competence in the basic techniques and positions of BJJ. Blue belts are expected to have a more extensive repertoire of techniques and start developing their own game.

Purple Belt: Advanced Techniques and Adaptability:

The purple belt is a stage where practitioners begin to demonstrate a higher level of skill, adaptability, and creativity. Purple belts have a deeper understanding of BJJ concepts and can effectively apply a wide range of techniques in various situations.

Brown Belt: Mastery and Refinement:

The brown belt is a symbol of mastery and refinement in BJJ. At this level, practitioners have a high level of technical proficiency and possess a deep understanding of the art. Brown belts often focus on further refining their techniques and developing their own unique style.

Black Belt: Expertise and Leadership:

The black belt is the pinnacle of achievement in BJJ. It represents a level of expertise and mastery that takes many years of dedicated training to attain. Black belts not only possess exceptional technical skills but also demonstrate leadership qualities and contribute to the BJJ community.

Beyond the Black Belt:

Beyond the black belt, there are additional degrees (coral belts and red belts) that represent further recognition of a practitioner's contributions and expertise in BJJ. These degrees are awarded to black belts who have made a significant impact in the BJJ community.

belt ranking systems in martial arts

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport known for its emphasis on ground fighting techniques and submissions. One of the distinguishing features of BJJ is its belt system, which serves as a hierarchical ranking structure for practitioners. Similar to other martial arts, the belt system in BJJ signifies a practitioner's progress, skill level, and dedication to the art. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the belt system in BJJ, including the different belt colours, the criteria for belt promotions, and the significance of each belt rank. By understanding the belt system, practitioners and enthusiasts can navigate their journey in BJJ with clarity and purpose.

Evolution of the Belt System

The belt system in BJJ finds its roots in the ancient Japanese martial arts tradition. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, introduced a belt ranking system in the late 19th century, which eventually influenced other martial arts, including BJJ. In BJJ, the belt system was adopted by Carlos Gracie and his brother, Helio Gracie, who developed and popularised the art.


The belt system in BJJ serves as a guide and motivator for practitioners on their martial arts journey. It provides a clear path for progression, allowing individuals to gauge their skill level and set goals for improvement. The belt system not only represents technical proficiency but also signifies character development, perseverance, and dedication. As practitioners progress through the belts, they not only become skilled martial artists but also embody the principles and values of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.