Bjj ranking system

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by American HKD, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. American HKD

    American HKD New Member


    Does anyone other than me see the Bjj ranking system extreme compared to other arts.

    For example a blue belt takes about 2 years, purple another 2-4 years, brown another 2-4, and black another 2-4 years.

    So a black can take 8-14 years and in many martial arts thats normally a 2nd or 3rd dan to 4th or 5th dan master level.

    A purple belt might be equal to a 1st or 2nd dan in other systems based on time or years training in the system.

    I've even heard it said a blue is equal to a black in other systems

    Thoughts from any knowledgeable BJJ guys???
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2008
  2. Yatezy

    Yatezy One bad mamba jamba

    I thought the Judo system can take as long :confused:

    Is it really a bad thing that it takes so long to earn the belts? I personally think its a good thing as the belts are earned and aint just dished out. We've seen plenty on cases of someone whose earned a BB after 3 years training and but cant even remotely peform when tested whereas a BB BJJer is gonna eat you and spit you out only to consume you again
  3. American HKD

    American HKD New Member


    The only bad rank is one given away.

    Earned rank is a must but my question was, Doesn't seem like a overly long time with to high demands at each level???

    8-14 years for a black belt vs most Karate, judo, TKD, Jujutsu, 3-5 years for a black belt and 14 years is usually a good Instr or even Master.
  4. Yatezy

    Yatezy One bad mamba jamba

    Personally id say no, I dont do BJJ so this more of a neutral comment. The longer and harder it takes to gain a belt i would say its better, its gonna make you a better fighter. As far as i know to earn rank in BJJ its based on things like, how you compete in competition and how you roll against a higher belt.

    IMO MA is systematic way to fight, always had been always will be so the harder it is to earn a rank the better.
  5. pauli

    pauli mr guillotine

    extreme? it's not bjj's fault that most every other system out there decided to make their own black belts worthless ;)

    there are clear and discernable differences in skills, abilities, knowledge, and mindset between a white belt, a baby blue belt, a purple belt, a brown belt, and a black belt. the belts are manifestly useful differentiators.

    there was some really good discussion of this at bullshido a year or two ago in a thread on competency vs proficiency vs mastery. here's what i remember being agreed to, or at least widely held:

    a blue belt in bjj represents competency, and anywhere from six months to three years of training, with two being the norm. a blue belt is familiar with most all the major/high percentage techniques, and usually a large number of more esoteric ones. he can be safely left in charge of a white belt or two, and may be relied upon for some of the necessities of the academy - getting the mats setup, cleaned, and taken down, or leading warmups while the instructor is otherwise occupied. he'll have tamed his inner spaz, and he'll have some semblance of a game plan - or at least, he knows what he usually goes for. he's probably pretty decent at whatever he considers his "specialty." on the other hand, he'll still have some pretty glaring holes in his game, and probably cultivates an active hatred for at least one purple belt, who really likes to roll with him. while laughing.

    if we compare this to a "generic martial art" - i'm going to use my own karate for this - we see some similarities at brown belt, again at about two years of consistent training. a brown belt here is competent - he knows all his basics, probably well enough to teach them (roughly) to lower belts. as a brown belt, he gets all the traditional brown belt duties - keeping the dojo clean, doing pushups for no clear reason, etc. he again has his game, and it again has some huge holes, but he's working on it. chances are he's modifying his basic techinques to suit his own style now, and stringing together combinations. he can land a clean shot on his instructor from time to time, but is aware that he'll get his clock cleaned at will if he gets cocky. he can lead class in an emergency, but results vary.

    back over at the academy, it's been another two or three years and our blue belt has hit purple. congratulations, proficiency! he's patched up most of the holes in his game - he's pretty solid from top or bottom, (good luck passing his guard!) his sweeps are sound, he's good at all major submissions, great at a few, and even has some low percentage comedy options he can bust out when the time is right. rolling with the white and blue belts, he's the calmest guy on the mats. attempts to pass his guard are usually met with his hands behind his head, and possibly a conversation with a third party. in a pinch he can run an entire class by himself, and may do so on a regular basis. if circumstances warrant, he may even open a subsidiary school at another location. he's still got to come to class, though, cause the brown belts expose the holes in his game that the other purple belts can't grasp, and the black belt shuts him down like there's no tomorrow.

    in the dojo, after that same two or three more years of hard training, our brown belt has been awarded his black belt. shodan. he's arrived. he gets the speech about climbing a mountain, only to find that there are many more mountains out there. he feels humbled and underqualified. his friends get him a black gi. the black belt signifies his proficiency in his art - there's still higher level stuff left for him, but he's a solid fighter on offense or defense, is aware of his surroundings, and can control a less skilled opponent without losing his cool. he's the young instructor who does things a bit differently than the old guy in charge, but it's still the same style. he's faster than the old man, but not nearly as crafty.

    and, uh, that's as far as i can assess right now. i'm competent at this, not proficient;)

    from another angle: bjj has very high standards, which is part of its popularity. no matter how long you train, you've got something to aim for that isn't just petty organizational politics. you go down to brazil, and you can't open a school without a black belt - and you'd better be able to defend it once you've got it, cause you're probably going to have some visitors.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2008
  6. slix

    slix Valued Member

    I don't currently train in BJJ and I can understand both sides of the argument. It does seem that many arts look at Black Belt not as the 'end all' the some in society perceives it but merely as adequately knowledgeable to be expected to help teach.

    From what we perceive here it's one thing to learn the internal aspects and the extrenal choreographies of the art and it's quite another to have it ingrained.

    That said I still feel like taking more than 5 years to attain 1st Dan is a bit extreme. Maybe BJJ attracts more aggressive types that need a much longer period of teaching and self-composing before they can learn the applictation I don't really know but I doubt it.

    It seems to me a bit extreme at the highest levels however. Meaning those who wish to attain the highest levels of BJJ don't do so based on their actual skills but on their contributions to BJJ. e.g. If I remember reading correctly to even apply for 9th Dan you have to have run a successful school with dues paying members for over 10 years. This type of MA Franchising isn't really my cup of tea as often it's the guy who only teaches a few people out of his garage that I find can have the most to offer because they don't want to teach a vast group... That just irks me if accurate. I firmly do believe your acquisition of rank should be focused on your acquisition of skill, proficiency, and application of the art, not on how much cashflow you can generate.
  7. pauli

    pauli mr guillotine

    a: bjj black belt degrees != dan grades. it doesn't map properly.

    b: at the upper echelons, the rules ( ) aren't about making money, they're about sharing and spreading jiu jitsu. if you want your ninth degree and you're still steadily practicing after the FORTY EIGHT YEARS required since getting your black belt, chances are you've got a school or two with your name on it. i've yet to hear of anyone with that much experience complaining about having to teach to get promoted!

    (oh, and (as i understand it) my instructor's instructor, at eighth degree, is still living and teaching in a freakin favella, never having made money during his decades of teaching, passing down the same philosophy to his students. he's counting down to that red belt...)
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2008
  8. soyez efficaces

    soyez efficaces Valued Member

    totally agree mate. BJJ standards in a nutshell are about set skill sets which are pressure tested and refined through training and competition(for most).
    This ensures that in most BJJ systems, one blue belt should be of same skill ability to another blue belt. That being, possessing a very strong foundation in basics.

    I earned my Machado blue belt after about 5 years of consistent training..a little longer then most from down these ways but I can rightly say I have done the time and layed a good foundation(including putting up with being called the "old man" in the class by fitter, younger BJJ technicians!)

  9. American HKD

    American HKD New Member


    Ok strong understanding of the basics (5 years training) is what a black belt is all about!!!

    2,3,4,5 Dan black belt is about higher mastery and becoming an Instr. or Master.

    The way Bjj does it (time wise that is) a black belt is equal to an Instr. Master. 4-6 dan in most martial art systems.

    I'm not saying it's wrong but it's very slow to hit ranks

    BTW I'm a Carlos Machado Blue and a Grace Blue belt it took about two years, my basics are very good but I have a long way to go still.
  10. pauli

    pauli mr guillotine

    which is why bjjers tend to laugh at rank in other systems (with the exception of judo dan grades). they just don't mean a darn thing.
  11. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    QFT. :)
  12. American HKD

    American HKD New Member

    Sorry that's a very general and not at all a fair and certainly not a true factual statement! :)
  13. Rhea

    Rhea Laser tag = NOT MA... Supporter

    Certainly not in my club.
    As for BJJ, it's definitely harder to earn the ranks than anything I've ever done. Not that I've got blue yet, but I've been told there's a chance it will be next year.

    We don't have any degrees of BB in BTT as far as I know, does this make a difference in competition, or do they all compete just by their usual divisions?
  14. soyez efficaces

    soyez efficaces Valued Member

    hey Mate

    am under John Will org down here, John earned his BB from Jean Jacques becoming one of the ‘BJJ Dirty Dozen’. As to comparing ranks from one system to another. I find this difficult let alone trivial for many reasons.

  15. American HKD

    American HKD New Member


    I wouldn't call it trivial but I understand what you mean.:)

    I'm paraphrasing but I read John Will and Dave Meyer claim a Bjj Blue is comparable to a black belt in other systems.

    I'm not sure in what context they said that whether they mean in sparring or in perfection of the basics?

    Maybe you can ask him?
  16. Covaliufan

    Covaliufan Valued Member

    Flipping this around, what part of having systems where black belt doesn't signify a mastery of the art or the capability to teach without supervision is a good thing? Our way of doing things is pretty awesome. The belts have real meaning in regards to skill level, and you can tell right away who's the real deal without having to squint and figure out if he's a regular black belt or a black belt model III etc.

    Your way seems to be pretty terrible in comparison. What is there to recommend it?
  17. American HKD

    American HKD New Member

    Good point but it's all semantics.

    But Purple belts are capable of teaching white and blues probably like an assistant instr. Brown are capable of being instrs. IMO, and blacks no doubt.

    But once you a Black in Bjj you need to train under higher dans to learn more so it's all the same thing at the end of the day.
  18. Atharel

    Atharel Errant

    As has been mentioned in the thread already, a BJJ blue is representative of a grasp of all the basics and the expectation that you're going to beat a white belt 90% of the time. In that regard it's directly analagous to a shodan in many other arts.
  19. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    First, I think the way we do it rocks and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    That said, outside of the BJJ community, it's only important to explain this when I'm talking to guys who don't understand BJJ belt systems. It's useful to explain the differences so that everyone's on the same page. Often, if someone doesn't know about BJJ, you mention a colored belt and there's a presumption about competence.

    It sounds like I'm more conservative than most, but I usually tell people that a blue belt equates to about a brown belt in most other arts, and that a purple belt is a 1st or 2nd degree black belt. I base that on the time it usually takes to acheive blue (1 to 2 years) and that having a purple belt run a school isn't uncommon, but it's exceedingly rare to have a blue belt run a BJJ school. Typically, when people learn from blue belts, it's as a sub style in another art (ie Bob is a 20th degree black belt in TKD and a Blue Belt in BJJ).

    To be honest, I usually don't bother, as I figure anyone who matters already knows. :)
  20. judobjj

    judobjj New Member

    Blue Belt in BJJ vs Black in others

    Its probably, sort of equivalent to a black belt in Judo. Put it this way, someone who has a blackbelt in Judo would find the transistion to BJJ easier than someone who had not, and vice versa for a bluebelt in BJJ going into Judo. I'd say they are around the same sort of level. The problem is the complete lack of consistency in what constitutes a black belt in different clubs in almost all other martial arts.

    In Judo now, they are apparently watering down the process of getting a blackbelt in the BJA, from what I've heard. The BJA are apparently concerned about the number of people leaving and are trying to make it easier to get a black belt by theory alone.

Share This Page