Often when you hear about the belt systems in various martial arts, many people do not give them much respect. Yes, there are various martial arts out there where the belt system really does not mean all that much. As is often the case, the rules are not that strict and with the right practice and correct bjj gi equipment, obtaining the next belt up the ladder is quite easy.
In many cases, this somewhat invalidates the whole process, because if the belts are way too easy to get, then in the end, they really do not mean anything at all. However, this is not the case with BJJ or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
When it comes down to it, it can take you 10 or more years to achieve your Dan or black belt ranking in BJJ. It could take you several years just to increase your ranking by one single belt. There is no doubt about the fact that ranking up in the world of BJJ is no easy feat, and it can take decades to become a true pro.
Going Through The BJJ Belts
Of course, when you take BJJ, there are various belts that you need to progress through. Each belt or level of learning comes with certain tasks and abilities that you must master in order to move onto the next level. Let’s take a look at the belts in BJJ and what exactly comes with them.
The White Belt – The white belt is all about putting you in a frame of mind so you are ready to learn, and to teach you what you will need to know to go through and complete your journey to become a BJJ master. The white belt is about creating a border to the puzzle which is BJJ. This is the beginning step where you will become increasingly familiar with the basic curriculum that is BJJ.
Not much is expected of you at this stage of your training, just to let go, be open to instruction, and pay attention to the master. Here you just want to listen, but your goal should not be to acquire too much technical knowledge. This you can save for later. Another main goal of the white belt stage is conditioning, or in other words, this is the time where you need to start getting into shape.
The Blue Belt – This is the next stage on the BJJ journey and it is focused mainly on defense. After all, you cannot possibly hope to win any fight or confrontation if you cannot even defend yourself. The blue belt stage is all about learning how to guard against strikes and submissions, how to get out of submissions, and how to get past the guard of your opponents.
This stage is all about mounting, getting past guards, and learning how to defend yourself in a physical confrontation. When you get to the blue belt stage in BJJ, you will often begin taking part in competitions.
The Purple Belt – This next belt is a very major one in the world of BJJ. When you get to this stage of your journey, you will start to learn all about using force and momentum against your opponents. Here you will learn how to generate momentum and how to reverse and work with the momentum of your opponents. It’s all about using movement in a natural way instead of trying to stand up to movement.
Doing things like flow rolling and learning how to grapple with your eyes shut are things you will learn here. Another big part of the purple belt stage is beginning to recognize your own weaknesses and to start focusing on those with the aim of improving your weaknesses.
The Brown Belt – Now that you have your purple belt, you will move on to acquiring your brown belt. This is where the focus of your training will switch from being defensive in nature to offensive. Now that you have created an airtight defense, you will be much safer when looking to strike or submit your opponent.
When you are in the brown belt stage of your BJJ journey, you will start to become more intimately familiar with a variety of grappling techniques, striking, sweeps, submissions, and throws. It’s all about learning how to attack and take down your enemy with minimal effort and movement. By the time you are a brown belt, you should have mastered defensive techniques and know how to use your body weight in relation to momentum.
The Black Belt – The final stage is the black belt stage, and once you have gotten your black belt, you will be a BJJ master. Technically speaking, by the time you reach the black belt stage, you should know more or less everything there is to know about BJJ. This stage is more about perfecting your techniques, breaking the lines between various techniques, and innovating your own fighting techniques, whether offensive or defensive in nature.
Folks, do keep in mind that belts are not the end all and be all of any martial art. Yes, mostly all martial arts use a belt ranking system. However, your skill or knowledge does not always dictate how fast you will get to that next belt. Sometimes it just has to do with how long you have been training for. Yes, it does also come down to the specific instructor, as this is somewhat of a subjective matter. One instructor might think you are ready to progress to the next level, but another might not.
What you need to keep in mind as well is that studying BJJ and becoming a master of it is not just about the end goal of getting that black belt. It is about honing your skills and knowledge, and really taking the information in along the way. It really is about the journey, not just the destination. However, with lots of hard work and dedication, anybody can become a BJJ black belt.