Martial Arts have always been a fascinating topic to a lot of people; I mean who doesn’t want to kick like Bruce Lee? However, martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are as complex as they are interesting. It takes years of practice and dedication to learning that level of patience, mental prowess, and physical fitness to be called a master.
The process of learning Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) has been divided into successive levels; each signified by a different belt. These BJJ belts are awarded in ceremonies which range from school to school. These belts reflect the hard work, dedication, and knowledge that went into achieving them and are a great source of pride for an individual.
Whether you are a student of martial arts or just an enthusiast who wants to know about the origin and ranks of the bjj belting system, this article is for you.
Before going into the actual ranking system, let us first learn where this belting system originated from. The belts initially originated in ancient China designed to hold trousers. With time the belts started being used to carry utility and weapons. Different colors of belts were used to distinguish social status or sometimes a different martial arts style.
On the other hand, in Japan, there were only two colors of belts: Black and White. White symbolizes death in the Japanese tradition, therefore, beginners wore white to symbolize that they were ready to sacrifice themselves in order to attain the status of a martial artist. While the experienced wore black belts symbolizing that they had overcome their fear of death.
Later on, Dr. Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo created a belting system with the purpose of monitoring the level of experience of his students. This system was later adopted by the founder of karate, Gichin Funakoshi, and ByungJick Ro, his student who invented Taekwondo.
Initially, the students had only one belt of white color which was dyed with a darker color with each promotion. This darkening of the color of the belt represented the maturity of the art.
The Intricacies of the Belting System
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is among the strictest martial arts in terms of their belting system. So, if you are thinking that you’ll be able to achieve a belt every few months, you are fooling yourself. In fact, it can take, on average, ten years for a person training in BJJ to achieve a black belt.
There are two belting systems, one for kids and another for adults:
BJJ Belting System for Kids
The kids’ belting system deals with ranking kids from 4 to 17 years of age. The kids start with the traditional white belt and move on, with training, to gray, yellow, orange and at last green. If you own a custom bjj gi then you should make it keeping in mind the colors of these belts.
After a child has attained the green belt he/she does not have to start from the white belt (of the adult belting system) rather he/she continues the training from the blue belt and onwards.
The kids’ BJJ belting system can get more complicated considering which bjj organization the martial arts academy is affiliated with. For instance, the martial arts academy might have kids’ belts with a lengthwise stripe of a different color to represent the fact that the child has yet to train enough to earn a fully colored belt.
BJJ Belting System for Adults
White Belt: A person starts his/her BJJ training from the white belt. The initial stages of training can be exhausting as well as haunting. One has to train a lot to reach to the second belt, which is a major achievement in itself.
Blue Belt: The second belt of the BJJ belts, the blue belt, is when one learns defense moves and how to integrate different moves. Blue belt demands the most time than any other belt, from a person.
Purple: The purple belt hallmarks half of the BJJ journey. It is the time when one’s style is defined and it is when one chooses one’s area of specialization in the art.
Brown Belt: A brown belt signifies the level at which many people start teaching Jiu-jitsu to younger students. A person with a brown belt has a lot of knowledge of the art and is dangerous. It is the time when most people develop their own moves which, if significant, is adopted by the common bjj style.
Black Belt: A person with a black belt in BJJ is called a professor which illustrates the level of knowledge of the art that one has to acquire to achieve it.
Red Belt: Contrary to what you might know, the black belt is not the last belt, after that there is the red belt which signifies a level of mastery. A 10th-degree red belt is only designated for the pioneers of BJJ.
Tying of the belt
BJJ belts have a habit of getting loose during rolling and practicing. However, it is not a reason to not learn how to tie one properly. There are various styles of tying a bjj belt e.g. there is the traditional Japanese version, then there are other versions that don’t let the tie loose easily that can be adopted during tournaments.