Unlike many other martial arts, BJJ takes a very long time to master. So much so, that by the time a practitioner reaches black belt, they’re known as “professor”. The gentle art is so complex that true understanding actually starts after you get the black belt. During the years that lead to the ultimate reward, students go through a ranking system marked by different belts. From promotion ceremonies to the knowledge required, Jiu Jitsu belts are true milestones that reflect hard work and dedication.
In this article we’ll take a trip from the origins of the belt system, to the ways you can tie a belt. We’ll also look at which brands of Jiu Jitsu belts are considered the best, as well as the traditional promotion ceremony. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.
Background Of The Belt System
The belts originate from ancient Chine, where they had but one role – to stop trousers from falling. During their development, mostly as a utility for carrying weapons, a system of different colors emerged. Originally, different color illustrated social status, can affiance or even martial arts style.
In Japanese culture, only two colors, symbolizing life and death, were used. White was for beginners, while black marked mastery. White, to the Japanese, symbolizes death, so a white belt and Gi meant a student is ready to sacrifice them self and accept the high standards of a martial arts lifestyle. Black meant the student had overcome the fear of death.
The belt color system known today is attributed to Judo’s founder Dr. Jigoro Kano. His motive behind the development of such a system was to be bale to visually track his students’ progress. The system was later adopted by Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Karate, as well as his student Byung Jick Ro who developed Taekwondo. During the early days of belt ranking, students only had one belt, that started off white. After every promotion, they dyed their belt with a darker color. The darker color both signified maturity within the art and was a practical dying solution.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts
In terms of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belts, you shouldn’t expect a new belt every few months. BJJ is notoriously strict when it comes to belt promotions. Apart from some “belt buying” incidents, the average practitioner is going to need at least 10 years to reach black belt.
Kids start off with the traditional white, and then have to go through gray, yellow, orange and green. After green they can be promoted to blue and continue through the adult belt system. All belts come with the accompanying stripes.
The first belt that adults get promoted to after white, is blue. It’s the time when a practitioner builds their defensive game and learns how to integrate moves together. Purple belt is in the middle of the road, with most of one’s BJJ style defined during those years. it is a purple belt that people tend to choose a direction of specialization while staying well rounded. Just preceding mastery is the brown belt, a time of profound technical knowledge and a complete game. Whether it is top or bottom, a brown belt is going to be dangerous and merciless. The period between purple and brown is also when most people get involved in teaching Jiu Jitsu.
For those that have been black belts for at least 31 years, there are a couple of coral belts (red and black) that represent the highest honor. The highest available belt is red belt, and 10th degree red belt only meant for pioneers of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Click the links to see the list and learn everything about BJJ RED BELTS and BJJ CORAL BELTS
The promotion ceremony itself is a source of some controversy in BJJ. As gentle the art may be (in name, at least) the promotion is anything but. The “traditional” style involves a gauntlet of everyone in the academy, bashing one with their belts. Many schools these days are disbanding this painful tradition, spurring debates in the community.
Shopping For A BJJ Belt
When it comes to buying Jiu Jitsu belts, much like with a Gi, there are certain brands that are favored among grapplers. The main difference between Jiu Jitsu belts and those of other martial arts, is the presence of a black bar on one end. Some of the best brands for 2017 include Scramble, Venum, Keiko Raca, Tatami, Maeda, Valor and Fuji. When buying a belt, one has to consider length, width, stitching, price and durability. Be wary of belt length since it differs before and after washing, as well as between different brands with the same size (i.e. A2). It is usually the middle ground between the highest quality and most fordable price that’s the deciding factor.
Tying The BJJ Knot
When training BJJ, your belt is going to get loose. It’s one of the few things that are certain to happen during every class. That, however, is not a reason to skip tying your belt properly. It is one of the things that you have to learn during your first weeks of training. There are different methods out there, so check out the video below and choose yours. Just don’t be that guy/girl that does freestyle knots that look completely out of place on the mats. And for Christ’s sake, do wash your belt regularly!!!!