Guys, this guide will be EPIC I promise 🙂 There is no better place to read about the BJJ ranking system better than this article (believe me I checked 😀 )
I broke down the peace in 9 chapters that seem to pop up in everybody’s mind (the old or new practitioners of the “arte suave”).
Another cool article I wrote is about “How to survive BJJ as a whitebelt

First and the foremost lets answer the question What is the difference between a BJJ belt or a judo belt?
Answer: The difference is that the bjj belt has a black bar on it for stripes, otherwise it is the same thing (the part of material which is used to tie the GI)
Majority of the BJJ Gis (or Kimono’s) on the market are made out of cotton. Some premium GIs are made of hemp but generally cotton is the standard when it comes to BJJ Gis and that includes belts. 


BJJ belt ranks / BJJ belt system (Explained)

Let me tell you a story. 🙂
The BJJ story begins in Japan, where an early form of Jiu-Jitsu (also called Ju-Jitsu) was developed for use on the field of battle by Japanese samurai. These warriors, who engaged in armed battles on horseback, developed Jiu-Jitsu as the last line of defense in the event that they found themselves disarmed and afoot.

In 1907, Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo, introduced the use of belts (obi) and gi (judogi) in the martial arts, replacing the practice of training in formal kimonos. In 1914, Kanō’s pupil Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil, a journey which led to the development of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. At the time Kanō used only white and blue belts, with white representing the beginner, as a color of purity and simplicity, and blue being the opposite, representing one who is filled with knowledge.

Some believe that Mikonosuke Kawaishi was the first to introduce additional colors in 1935 when he began teaching Judo in Paris, ten years after Carlos Gracie opened his academy in Brazil. Kawaishi thought that a more structured system of colored belts would provide the student with visible rewards to show progress, increasing motivation and retention. Since then, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, and many other martial arts have adopted the use of colored belts to denote students’ progression in the arts.

The first official belt ranking system was created in 1967 by the Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Guanabara. Before those days, there were three belt colors in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that primarily distinguished instructors for students. The white belt was for students, light blue for instructors, and dark blue for masters. The Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) and International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation implemented much of the current criteria and modern belt ranks.


2. BJJ belt progression timeline

If you are wondering how long it would take you (as an adult) to get from White belt to Blackbelt here is a graph of the timeframes we are looking at:

– White belt – Zero Years (since it is no prerequisite to get it, Just show up in the gym)
– Blue belt – 2 to 3 years on average
– Purple belt – 4 to 5 years
– Brown belt – 7 to 8 years
– Black belt – 10 to 11 years

Now the “year” is measured here in how many times you come to the gym so that would mean on average 3 times a week.
If you have a family and are a busy person probably you won’t be able to come more often than 2 times a week and that is fine , just that it may take you longer to progress.

Also depends how tough are your teammates on the mat. If you roll just with higher belts they will teach you stuff that you won’t learn from a whitebelt. It is easier to get discouraged because everyone will seem a superhuman but in the long run you will learn more stuff.

You receive your rank in jiu jitsu based on merit. To achieve the next belt or stripe you must demonstrate your knowledge and ability to execute the appropriate techniques and skills for your skill level.

That doesn’t mean you will have a test automatically after the end of this period, it just means your instructor will keep an eye on you and expect you to make progress around that time.

My advice: just come to the gym and don’t think too much about when is your turn to get a bluebelt, just enjoy the experience.
A belt is after all a peace of clothes, what color it has doesn’t matter much as long as you don’t know BJJ.

3. Red Belt in BJJ

Redbelts are rare, there are really just a few in the world and the reason for that is they dedicated their entire lives to BJJ and to promoting the sport.
These people tought, fought, lived by the rules of BJJ and they diverse to have that belt as a sign of distinction, the true pioneers.
It is said that “If a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner receives a black belt when they’re 19-yr-old, they could expect to receive a 9th-degree red belt around the age of 67.”
That is basically a lifetime of BJJ.

If someone asks you out of the blue who is a redbelt below is the latest list:

The 10th degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts:

  1. Carlos Gracie Sr.
  2. Gastão Gracie
  3. Jorge (George) Gracie
  4. Hélio Gracie
  5. Oswaldo Gracie
    9th Degree Red Belts:
  6. Pedro Hemeterio
  7. João Alberto Barreto
  8. Reyson Gracie
  9. Flavio Behring
  10. Carlson Gracie
  11. Carley Gracie
  12. Geny Rebello
  13. Armando Wridt
  14. Oswaldo Fadda
    10.Pedro Valente
  15. Luis Carlos Guedes de Castro
  16. Francisco Mansur
  17. Rorion Gracie
  18. Relson Gracie
  19. Francisco Sá:
  20. Amelio Arruda:
  21. Arthur Virgilio Neto
  22. Crézio Chavez
  23. Deoclécio Paulo
  24. Eduardo Gomes Pereira
  25. Geraldo Flores
  26. Helio Vigio
  27. José Higino
  28. Julio Secco
  29. Luiz Franca
  30. Nahum Rabay
  31. Nilton Pereira da Silva
  32. Octavio de Almeida
  33. Oswaldo Carnivalle
  34. Oswaldo “Paqueta” Rosa
  35. Paulo Mauricio Strauch
  36. Pedro Emerito
  37. Walter Nogueira
  38. Orlando Saraiva
  39. Rickson Gracie


4. BJJ white belt stripes

When you have a whitebelt around your waist the blue belt seems the closest to next level you can get.
Well in fact some gyms award stripes on your belt as sign/acknowledgement of progress.

It is also good for tracking purposes (example a fresh whitebelt rolling against a two year whitebelt is totally different story).

Questions may arise like “Why am I a 1 stripe whitebelt and smaching people?” or “How to put on the first stripe on a belt” or “How many stripes you need for your next belt”…
The first question can be answered with : It depends !
Depends for example who you are rolling against on average. Depends when did you get your first stripe (how recent) and so on.

About how to put on a stripe just use some glue, it doesn’t matter as long as it on.

Finally the question about the number of stripes: the answer is 4. 🙂

5. BJJ purple belt requirements

Takedowns – shots and throws (Takedowns are very important because it allows a fighter to control the match by placing the opponent on the mat and scoring points or if you are in a streetfight taking a person down it puts you in control of the fall and be on top)

Guard Pulling to sweeps (it is very common in BJJ someone to pull guard or give up the takedown and place themselfes on the mat directly so they can sweep an opponent, you choose to be down so you can access the lower part of the body and have a stronger base)

Escapes: Mount Escapes + Side Escapes ( Modified Scarfhold + Reverse Scarfhold ) + Downed Headlock Escapes +Back Escapes
– These escapes are the first in line of importance as you will end up most of the time in this situations (especially as whitebelt) so you must learn how to properly escape when some guy is on top of you.

Submission Escapes from: RNC, Kimura, Armbar, Triangle Choke, Guillotine, Footlock, and Heelhook

Guard Passes: Closed Guard Pass + Half Guard Pass + Butterfly Pass

Sweeps: Closed Guard Sweeps + Halfguard Sweep + Butterfly sweep

Additional guards: (Spider, Rubber, X, Single X, De La Riva, Reverse De La Riva, Berimbolo, Deep Half, Octopus, Etc.)

Submissions: Guard: Triangle, Armbar, Omoplata, Telephone, Kimura, Palm Up/Palm Up Choke, Palm Up/Palm Down Choke, Guillotine

Mount: Americana, Armbar, Triangle, Head and Arm (triangle), Palm Up/Palm Up choke, Palm Up/Palm Down Choke, Telephone

Side: Americana, Kimura, Armbar, Howdy Choke, Baseball Choke (from Knee on Belly too)

Back: RNC, Armbar, Lapel Chokes, Bow and Arrow

Leg Locks: Straight (Achilles) Lock, Heel Hook, Knee Bar

6. Coral belt BJJ

Not so common are the Coral level BJJ practicioners with more than 30 years of Blackbelt.

1. Cosmo Dias
2. Paulo caruso
3. Carlos Rollyson
4. Sergio “Malibu” Jardim
5. Marcio Dos Santos
6. Crolin Gracie
7. Marcio Stambowsky
8. Roberto Lage
9. Carlos Henrique Elias “Caique”
10. Fabio santos
11. crezio De Souza
12. Fabricio martins
13. Rigan Machado
14. Sylvio Behring
15. Rilion Gracie
16. Rolker Gracie
17. Jurandir Moura
18. Ricardo Cavalcanti
19. Pedro sauer
20. Mauricio Gomes
21. Cassio Cardoso
22. Carlos Machado
23. Fernando “Pinduka”
24. Royce Gracie
25. Sergio Penha
26. Ricardo Liborio
27. Joe Moreira
28. Royler Gracie
29. Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti
30. Carlos Gracie Junior “Carlinhos”
31. Jean Jacques Machado
32. Ricardo De La Riva

7. Jiu Jitsu belts for junior

Now the other side of the coin, the young ones. What about them?

Jiu-jitsu is one of the safest sports for young children. They will have fun, learn new skills, improve their coordination, get a great workout and most importantly remain safe. Avoiding high impact contact sports at a young age is beneficial for long-term results and healthy development.

Not only does it teach them a form of self-defense, it also teaches many life lessons as well that a child can carry with them. Jiu Jitsu is one of the most practical martial arts you can put your child in. … BJJ allows the child to work from the ground and gain control. That is a common self defense against bullying in school.

Every 8 months you should change the belt (example from Gray-White to Solid Gray to Gray-Black).

  • Gray belt group
  • Yellow belt group
  • Orange belt group
  • Green Belt group

8. BJJ blue belt requirements (list)

Positional Escapes

Demonstrate and explain the following:

  • 2-3 escapes from side control (return to guard and getting to your knees)
  • 2-3 escapes from mount (shrimping to guard, bridging escape and reversal)
  • 2-3 escapes from rear mount (while face up and belly down)
  • 1-2 escape from knee-on-belly
  • 1-2 escape from north-south
  • 2-3 escapes from turtle (sit-outs, reversals and returning to guard)

Submission Defenses

  • Defending the guillotine from guard (protecting the neck, passing to the correct side)
  • Defending the armbar from guard (stacking and freeing the arm)
  • Defending the armbar from mount (bridging to knees and stacking)
  • Defending the rear naked choke (protecting your neck, trapping their arm)
  • Defending the collar choke from guard (protecting the neck and breaking grips)
  • Defending the collar choke from mount (protecting the neck and escaping mount)
  • Defending the triangle choke (how to avoid it, early escape and late escape)
  • Defending the kimura from guard (how to avoid it, early and late escapes)
  • Defending the omoplata from guard (how to avoid it, early and late escapes)
  • Defending the straight ankle lock (how to avoid it, how to escape)


  • Good posture, grip fighting and footwork
  • Hip throw
  • Uchimata
  • Osoto-gari
  • Uchi-gari
  • Tomeo-nage
  • Fireman’s carry
  • Double leg
  • Single leg
  • Rear takedown
  • Sprawling to defend takedowns
  • Pulling guard

Guard Passing

  • Posture in closed guard
  • 2 ways to open closed guard
  • Stacking pass
  • Double under pass
  • Over-under pass
  • Bullfighter pass
  • Cross knee pass
  • 2-3 half guard passes (underhook, facing legs, etc.)


  • Advancing from side control to knee-on-belly
  • Advancing from side control to mount
  • Taking the back from mount
  • Taking the back from side control when they turn away
  • Taking the back from the front headlock/sprawl
  • Taking the back from side ride/top of turtle
  • Taking the back from the bottom of half guard
  • Returning to closed guard from half guard


  • Scissors sweep
  • Pendulum sweep
  • Hip bump sweep
  • Double ankle grab sweep
  • Overhead (feet on hips) sweep
  • Tripod sweep from spider guard
  • Sickle sweep from spider guard
  • Hook sweep from butterfly guard
  • Armdrag from butterfly guard


  • Guillotine from standing
  • Guillotine from closed guard
  • Kimura from closed guard
  • Armbar from closed guard
  • Collar choke from closed guard
  • Triangle from closed guard
  • Omoplata from closed guard
  • Armbar from side control
  • Kimura from side control or north-south
  • Armbar from mount
  • Americana from mount
  • Arm triangle from mount
  • Collar choke from mount
  • Rear collar choke from rear mount
  • Rear naked choke from rear mount
  • Straight anklelock

9. Famous BJJ black belts (celebrities)

There are a lot of celebrities and actors that practice BJJ and some reached the top.
Some of them are these guys below.
You must understand that acting/showbizz is a full time job with little time to spare for sports like BJJ that put a toll on your body so it is even more impressing comming from these busy people.

Ed O’Neil (Al Bundy)
Chuck Norris
Joe Rogan
Sean Patrick Flannery
Paul Walker
Rikki Rockett
Guy Ritchie

 Jiu Jitsu is an artform so like drawing or painting it requires lots of time invested if you want to make progress.

Once you become good in it it is very rewarding and can influence your life in positive ways since you are building just physical strength but also character.

Cheers and thank you for reading TheLongWalks



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