The Progression and Belt Levels in BJJ

Similar to other martial arts, belt levels in Bjj exist.

You could have asked yourself multiple questions regarding this. 

“How many belt levels are there?”

“How do you progress?”

“What do the colors and stripes on the belt mean?” 

Don’t worry; continue reading; this article will answer all of those questions.

Belt Levels in Bjj

Number of Belt Levels in BJJ

In BJJ, there are five primary belt levels and three variants of the black belt for adults:

  • White belt
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Belt in brown
  • Black belt
  • Red and black belt (7th-degree black belt)
  • Belt in red and white (8th-degree black belt)
  • Red belt (9th and 10th-degree black belt)

Here are the things that teachers can use to decide who to promote:

  • A person with a black belt can move a student from the white belt to the purple belt.
  • A 1st-degree black belt can move students from the white belt to the brown belt.
  • A 2nd-degree black belt can promote students from white belt to black belt.

There are 13 belts for children:

  • White
  • Gray/white
  • Solid grey
  • Gray/black
  • Yellow/white
  • Solid yellow
  • Yellow/black
  • Orange/white
  • Solid orange
  • Orange/black
  • Green/white
  • Solid green
  • Green/black

Aside from the minimum age, there is also no minimum amount of time you have to stay at each belt in the kids’ system.

When you turn 16, your teacher will move you up to one of the adult belts mentioned earlier.

The following will depend on your current belt, according to IBJJF rules:

  • Any grey, yellow, orange, or green belt automatically becomes a blue belt the year they turn 16.
  • A 16-year-old must be a green belt for two years before getting a purple belt.
  • At 17, athletes must be green and blue belts for at least a year each. Only then can they be given a purple belt.
  • If an athlete moves from green to purple, he must wait two years for brown.

Related Reading: Karate Belt Order – Read About It Here.


The progression of your belt and stripes (degrees) is usually set by your head instructor and can be very different from gym to gym.

The IBJJF has four “degrees,” or stripes, on all belts, from white to black.

This isn’t the only way to give stripes; some gyms won’t give any below the black belt level. 

Some gyms may put stripes on some belts but not on others.

For example, in Kama Jiu-Jitsu, stripes are only given at the blue belt level.

Some gyms hold official gradings for stripes but not for belts.

Other gyms have official gradings for belts but not for stripes. It’s up to your gym.

Instructors can assess their students’ readiness for the next belt or stripe through various methods.

Usually, a student’s grade will be based on a few things, such as:

  • Technical know-how.
  • Competition and/or sparring performance.
  • Their general versatility.
  • Time spent training and how often they trained.

Other inventive systems, like Rob Biernacki’s from BJJ Concepts, use stripes to signify module mastery.

In his system for getting to the blue belt level, one stripe stands for guard-holding moves, and another stripe stands for sweeping moves. 

You can earn stripes in any order by showing that you are good at these specific skill sets.

Anatomy of the Belt

Belt Color

  • The color of the five main belt ranks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are white, blue, purple, brown, and black.


  • When you reach the next level in your organization, you receive a white line on your belt called a “stripe.”

Stripe Bar

  • A bar where all of the stripes are in the same place.

Professor Stripe

  • This is worn on both sides of the “stripe bar” to show that the player is a coach.

White Belt – Beginner

You might have seen videos online that tell you how to get through your first few months of BJJ training.

In this system for getting to the blue belt level, one stripe stands for guard-holding moves, and another stripe stands for sweeping moves.

White belts should learn how to tie their belts and then focus on how to stay alive.

Most white belts will quit, so surviving might be better than most people think.

It can be disheartening to get on the mat only to be beaten repeatedly, especially by someone smaller than you.

But don’t worry; this is a common problem for newbies. 

Being taken down by someone smaller than you is proof that BJJ training works.

You don’t always have to win as a white belt.

You should work on getting used to the pressure put on you during sparring. 

Instead of trying to pin your opponent, you can just hit them with the moves you learned that day in class.

If you hit a sweep, kept a position, or got out of a bad position, you can count your roll as a success.

Related Reading: Jiu Jitsu Origin – Learn About It Here.

Blue Belt – First Belt Earned

The first graduation or step up in training is getting the blue belt.

This belt shows that you know how to make basic moves and have built up the endurance you need to move on to the next level of training. 

During blue belt training, you’ll focus mainly on learning how to tackle and perform defensive drills.

But you can also learn invasion moves like side mounts, back mounts, and standard mounts.

Before moving on to purple belt training, pupils must show they grasp defensive moves in a match.

These matches aren’t complicated, so you don’t need to worry.

Purple Belt – Advanced Level

Purple belts can be an excellent resource for white belts who want to learn the basics.

Your gym’s “mat enforcer” would most likely be a purple belt.

This is also thought to be the rank where you start to improve your style or form in BJJ competitions.

Most people with a purple belt know the basics of BJJ and can start putting moves together. 

You might also be surprised that many people who get a purple belt go on to get a black belt.

If you want to compete in the purple belt level, you must have been a blue belt for at least two years and be at least 16 years old.

Because of this, if you want to compete, you should sign up with the IBJJF as soon as possible. 

IBJJF tournaments are where many of the best Jiu-Jitsu athletes compete.

Brown Belt – Becoming an Expert

Brown Belt - Becoming an Expert

The brown belt is the last level before you reach mastery and get your black belt.

During your training with the brown belt, you will focus on more attack techniques and keep practicing defensive drills. 

During this part of your training, the instructors will work with you to show you different submissions, sweeps, and passes.

Also, you may start to develop your own style.

Your teachers will also help you hone this by teaching you countermoves, offensive strategies, and defensive steps.

Black Belt – Mastery

On average, it takes ten years to earn the coveted rank of black belt.

Though, people like BJ Penn have reached this much faster. 

When you have a black belt, you have a lot of power in a gym.

People ask you questions about both simple and advanced techniques. 

This belt is said to be the “heaviest” to carry.

Many instructors only give out black belts to people they think are good.

People who get a blackbelt in Brazil are often called “professors.” 

For each of the first three stripes, it takes three years.

For the 4th, 5th, and 6th ranks, you have to spend five years in the previous level.

Red and Black (Coral Belt)

After getting the sixth degree of a black belt and training for another seven years, a person can get a red and black belt.

You must have gotten your black belt at least 31 years ago to get a red and black belt.

Red and White (Coral Belt)

Seven years are needed to get a red and black belt, but ten years are required to get a red and white belt.

This is the last rank before anyone can get a full red belt. 

Only 24 red and white belts have been registered with the IBJJF.

Red Belt

At the ninth degree, you get the full red belt.

At the moment, only the original Gracie family members can get the 10th degree. 

Renzo Gracie remarked that a person at this level is “at the summit of the art” through power and fame.

Related Reading: Taekwondo Belt Order – Learn About It Here.

Final Thoughts

Jiu-jitsu is a fun, fulfilling, and useful martial art.

Not only is it good for self-defense, but the thirst for self-improvement is rewarding in and of itself. 

Remember to keep safe and enjoy if you plan on learning the art.