How Long Does It Take to Get a Black Belt in BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a hard martial art to learn. And compared to many martial arts, it can take a lot longer to earn a black belt and become a true master of it. But how long does it take to get a black belt in BJJ?

On average a BJJ black belt is achieved in 12 years. But depending on the frequency of training, dedication, and effort, that can vary between 10 to 15 years. But a select few have done it in significantly less time.

Mastery of BJJ is something only a few will reach because it is not an easy task, and it takes a long time. Black belts from any martial arts form are revered for a reason.

A black belt shows that the owner is an expert in the martial art form. It also shows the time and dedication a martial artist has put into the art. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more challenging to earn than in other martial art forms because it takes serious dedication and a lot of time to achieve one.

If you want to know more about the BJJ black belt and why it is so rare, you are in the right place.

In the rest of this article, I explain whether a kid can earn a BJJ black belt and the percentage of people that actually make it to the black belt..

Is it hard to get a black belt in BJJ?

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system is stricter than other martial arts.

It has a very slow progression; it takes years of training and dedication before a student can move to the next rank (i.e., next belt level).

Virtually all people start as white belts (unless they had extensive training in related martial arts), but only a few make it to the black belt level. Several white belts and blue belts quit BJJ before they reach the next level because they get bored with the slow progression.

They complain that it is too hard to learn, takes too much time, causes injuries, or is too expensive.

Mastery of BJJ is something only a few will achieve because it is not an easy task. With regular training and healthy dedication, you can earn a black belt.

It can take a new student 10 to 15 years of training to get a black belt in BJJ. However, some prodigies achieve it in less time. A notable example is BJ Penn, accurately nicknamed “the Prodigy.”

He earned the fastest black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; in just 3 years and 4 months!

He is so talented that he did what it takes 90% of black belts over a decade to do in less than a third of the time. He is a true prodigy.

A few weeks after earning his black belt, BJ Penn went on to win the black-belt division of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At one point, he was the world’s best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in his weight class.

You can speed up your BJJ progress by training at home with a training dummy.

Doing extra training at home can help you sharpen your skills and earn a belt promotion in record time. In a recent article, I researched the best BJJ dummies for home practice. I also specify the appropriate dummy size depending on the user’s age.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How long does it take to get each belt in BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a total of eight belt levels for adults.

It comprises five main belts (White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black) and three other advanced belt levels after getting a black belt —Coral belt (red and black belt), Coral belt (red and white belt), and red belt.

The amount of time a student spends between each belt rank depends on how dedicated they are to progressing and learning.

The typical duration between each belt rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is:

  • A white belt: A white belt is the first belt given to beginners and new students.
  • A blue belt: It is an intermediate rank. It would take two to three years of being a white belt holder before getting promoted to a blue belt.
  • A purple belt: You would have to hold a blue belt for 3 to 5 years to be eligible for a purple belt.
  • A brown belt: It will take 2 to 3 years to progress to a brown belt after holding a purple belt. The average time for a white belt to earn a brown belt is 7 to 8 years.
  • A black belt: The average time it takes to earn a BJJ black belt is 10 to 15 years of consistent training. Most people achieve it in 12 years. After achieving the black belt, there are ten more degrees to attain.
  • Red and black belt (coral belt): A total of 31+ years of consistent training and practicing as a black belt is required to achieve this belt. The red and black coral belt is awarded at the 7th degree.
  • Red and white belt (coral belt): The minimum time it takes a black belt to achieve this is 38 years. The red and white coral belt is awarded at the 8th degree.
  • Red belt: This is the highest rank achievable by BJJ practitioners. It will take a total of 48 years or more as a black belt to achieve a red belt. According to Renzo & Royler Gracie, the belt is awarded to “those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art”. Helio Gracie is a notable example of a 10th-degree red belt. His son, Rickson Gracie, is the latest practitioner to be promoted to red belt in 2017.

As I mentioned, the BJJ journey does not end with earning a black belt.

There are higher belt ranks after it, starting from a 1st degree black belt to a 10th-degree belt. These degrees are indicated with stripes. It typically takes three years to be awarded new stripes.

By the time you reach the 7th degree, you will be given a red and black coral belt.

By the 8th degree, you earn a red and white coral belt. The red belt is exclusive to the 9th-degree belt and 10th-degree belt holders, and it indicates that they are ‘Grandmasters’. The only living red belts are 9th-degree black belts.

The Gracie family has had a large impact on BJJ, and for a good reason —they created Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Is the belt system in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu the same as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

I answered that in a recent article of mine. You should check it out if you are interested in understanding how they differ. I cover all belts in both programs, including the differences between adult belts and kid’s belts.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How rare is a black belt in BJJ?

According to Rener Gracie, only 10% of new practitioners will make it to a blue belt level. Out of that 10%, only 1% will continue to a black belt level.

It is actually a rare achievement because only a few get to earn a black belt.

The average time to earn a black belt is 10 to 15 years of dedicated training. Not a lot of people can dedicate a decade (or more) to constant training; it is a huge time commitment. Many people get bored with the slow progression of the BJJ belt system and quit.

It is estimated that only 2% of BJJ practitioners are black belts. So even though there are more black belts now than we had 15 years ago, they still are quite rare. To be promoted to the rank of black belt, a dedicated student must put in major hard work to increase his skill level and technical knowledge of BJJ techniques.

But once you’ve made it to brown belt, you’re in the home stretch. But how long to go from brown to black?

In a recent article of mine, I explain how long it takes to progress from a brown belt to a black belt. I also mention the hardest BJJ belt to earn; it will surprise you that it is not the black belt.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can a kid get a black belt in BJJ?

A child cannot get a black belt rank in BJJ. The highest level for children is a green belt. The IBJJF standard (international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu federation) puts the minimum age at 19 years for a black belt.

The IBJJF provides 13 belt levels for junior practitioners below 16 years of age.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system for kids is:

  • White belt: The white belt level is where everyone starts their BJJ journey from.
  • Grey with white bar belt.
  • Grey belt 
  • Grey with black bar belt
  • Yellow with a white bar belt
  • Yellow belts
  • Yellow with a black bar belt
  • Orange with a white bar belt
  • Orange belts
  • Orange with a black bar belt
  • Green with a white bar belt
  • Green belt
  • Green with a black bar belt

The reason why the belts for kids are different from that of adults is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recognizes that a child, no matter how well-skilled, would not have the same strength and abilities as an adult martial artist.

If you would like to know more about the belt order in the BJJ belt system for kids, I wrote about it in a recent article. I also wrote about the minimum age requirement for each belt level.

A child can start BJJ training as early as age 4.

Most people, however, enroll their children at ages 7 to 10. Before registering your kid, it is important that the child has self-awareness and can follow directions.

The general rule is that when BJJ students turn 16, they are promoted to a blue belt level in the adult belt system (that is, if they were already above a white belt).

However, if the child has been a green belt for at least two years before turning 16, they would move to a purple belt level in the adult belt system.

BJJ is a good martial art that allows your kids to defend themselves and take down stronger opponents. It is especially effective in one-on-one combat.

But how many submissions and techniques are there?

In a recent article, I explained the 49 most effective submissions and techniques that would help anyone defeat a bigger and stronger opponent. I even cover the 1 technique not always taught in classes that is guaranteed to get them to tap out!

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What percent of people go all the way to Black Belt in BJJ?

Rener Gracie, grandson of Grandmaster Hélio Gracie, says that 1 in 1,000 BJJ students go on to earn a black belt. That means black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are reserved for just 1% of its students.

This statistic shows how rare it is to become a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

As of 2021, IBJJF statistics show that there are slightly over 4000 registered black belts worldwide. The number is quite small compared to the millions of people learning and practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The black belt in BJJ is highly respected in the martial arts community because it is not an easy feat to achieve. It is a high-level belt that comes with a lot of prestige and respect.

How long does it take to get BJJ Black Belt (FORMULA)

Conclusion

In this article, we considered how long it takes the average person to earn a black belt in BJJ.

Most people earn it within 12 years of dedicated training; unless you are a prodigy like BJ Penn, then you are an exception to this timeframe.

I also explained why children could not hold a black belt in BJJ and the reason a black belt is so rare even among adults. We wrapped up the article by considering the percentage of people that go all the way to black belt in BJJ.


Image by patrickbrassard0 from Pixabay

 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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