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What is the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt System?

Updated: Feb 16

Understanding the Brazilan Jiu Jitsu Belt System: A Guide to IBJJF Rankings for Kids and Adults

IBJJF Standards

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is more than just a martial art—it's a journey of personal growth, discipline, and skill mastery. Central to this journey is the BJJ belt system, a structured method of recognizing a practitioner's progress and expertise. In this guide, we'll delve into the nuances of the BJJ belt system, as per the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) standards, covering both kids and adults. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned grappler, understanding the belt system is crucial in appreciating the path of a BJJ practitioner. You can find the full IBJJF guide for promotions in their graduation guides.

The BJJ Belt System: An Overview

The BJJ belt system is a ladder of progression. Each belt represents a milestone in skill, knowledge, and commitment. Unlike other martial arts, promotions in BJJ are not solely based on skill proficiency but also on factors like moral character, teaching ability, and time spent at each level.

Jiu Jitsu Adult Belt Rankings

  1. White Belt: The journey begins with the white belt, symbolizing a blank slate. Here, practitioners learn the fundamentals of BJJ, including basic techniques and principles.

  2. Blue Belt: Earning a blue belt signifies a deeper understanding of BJJ fundamentals. Blue belts demonstrate improved technical knowledge and begin to develop their unique grappling style.

  3. Purple Belt: At this stage, practitioners have a well-rounded skill set and start to refine advanced techniques. Purple belts often begin to take on teaching roles, sharing their knowledge with lower-ranked students.

  4. Brown Belt: The brown belt is a testament to years of dedication. These practitioners have a comprehensive understanding of BJJ and are polishing their techniques to perfection.

  5. Black Belt: The coveted black belt represents a high level of technical and theoretical knowledge. Black belts are often leaders in the BJJ community, contributing through teaching, competing, and continual learning.

Jiu Jitsu Kids Belt Rankings

The IBJJF has a separate belt system for practitioners under 16. This system includes belts like white, grey, yellow, orange, and green, each with its own stripes to indicate progress. These belts help young practitioners celebrate small achievements and stay motivated in their BJJ journey. All Grand Rapids, MI area gyms follow the IBJJF kids rankings.

  1. White Belt: The starting point for all young BJJ enthusiasts, focusing on foundational skills and basic coordination.

  2. Grey Belt: This belt introduces more complex techniques and begins to instill a deeper understanding of BJJ principles.

  3. Yellow Belt: At this level, kids start mastering fundamental techniques and strategies in BJJ.

  4. Orange Belt: Orange belts have a solid grasp of BJJ basics and begin to explore more advanced concepts.

  5. Green Belt: The highest rank for kids under 16, green belts demonstrate proficiency in techniques and start to develop a personal grappling style.

Promotion Criteria

Promotions in BJJ are not strictly time-based. They depend on various factors like skill level, competition performance, teaching ability, and overall contribution to the art. The IBJJF sets minimum age and time-in-rank requirements, but individual instructors have the discretion to promote students based on their unique journey. The most important component of your promotion is the personal progress you have made through your commitment to the art of Jiu Jitsu. An important note, for IBJJF competitors it is important that coaches follow the IBJJF guidelines or IBJJF my deny the ability for students to compete.


The BJJ belt system is a reflection of personal growth, technical skill, and dedication to the art. It's a journey that varies for each individual, filled with challenges, achievements, and lifelong learning. Whether you're a child starting out in a white belt or an adult striving for black, each belt is a milestone in your BJJ journey, signifying your progress and commitment to this profound martial art.

Ready To Get Started?

Discover the transformative power of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and join a community dedicated to personal growth and empowerment. Start your BJJ journey today at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym near you in Grand Rapids, MI.

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