I have always enjoyed asking different black belt instructors what each of the different belt colors meant in brazilian jiu-jitsu.
There is no set criteria or curriculum that determines when one student should become a blue or purple belt amongst different bjj schools.
There are however, general characteristics I have observed within the various belt levels and I would like to break them down for you.
And an important question many new belts ask is: “What should I be working on?”
1) White belt
The belt of discovery and survival.
White belts are primarily:
– accumulating moves in the various major ground positions
– learning and drilling the correct mechanics of individual techniques
– concentrating on escapes and survival on the bottom
Every class brings a new solution for a rolling problem that the new student is experiencing.
The complexity of bjj is both exciting and overwhelming!
2) Blue Belt
The belt of experimentation.
Bluebelts should have an understanding of the basic techniques and positions and are now exploring advanced variations (ex. different guard styles).
I see many bluebelts falling in love with different guard games and spending a lot of training time learning what type of guard is going to be part of their game.
In order to start developing your personal game, you are going to have to run experiments to find what fits your style.
Blue belts are also starting to specialize in a preferred submission and may be a belt level or two higher in certain positions!
3) Purple Belt
The belt of “A Game” development.
It is said that by the time a student reaches purple belt, that they have seen all of the techniques that a black belt knows (although not to the same depth or detail!)
By purple belt the student knows what their game is and now is developing setups and combination attacks.
They have set aside techniques that do not suit their personal game and focus on getting razor sharp in their strong areas.
Purple belt is a good time to honestly assess one’s weaknesses and fill in those holes,.
4) Brown Belt
The belt of refinement.
The brown belt knows his game and seeks to tighten every one of their techniques – even the basics!
They develop multiple routes to their favorite techniques and employ more advanced strategies like baiting the opponent into exactly what they want.
Brown belts should also be looking to bring up lagging areas of their game to a competent level.
Brown belt was the most fun belt for my own bjj as I was able to control the rolling with most opponents and attempt new moves or variations that I had learned that same class that I learned them.
I also worked hard to correct the weakness in my rear mount and concentrated my training on the back for a full year.
5) Black Belt
The belt of mastery.
Few black belts will describe themselves as masters and instead become aware of how truly deep the art of brazilian jiu-jitsu is!
I think it is false modesty for a black belt to say “Now is when the learning truly starts” as anyone who has been absolutely smashed by a black belt can directly attest how much the black belt has already mastered!
A black belt has deep understanding of the basic techniques, many advanced variations and most importantly: uses the principles of jiu-jitsu to execute those same techniques with the most efficient timing, leverage and precision.
The black belts I speak with say that they are experimenting with positions that they knew but did not have deep understanding of, starting to perform techniques on BOTH left and right sides.
What belt are you currently?