How Long Does It Take to Go from Brown to Black Belt in BJJ?


brown to black in BJJ lg

Different martial arts have different belt progressions. And in comparison to other martial arts, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system is quite strict. So, how long does it take to go from brown belt to black belt in BJJ?

Here’s what I have learned:

While the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) recommends practicing for a minimum of one year before moving from brown belt to black belt, the average time is between 1 and 2 years.

But again, those are averages. Some people take longer, and some do it faster. So let’s look at the actual criteria the teachers use to gauge when a student is ready.

Let’s get started.

How long does it take to get a black belt in BJJ?

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu normally takes 8-15 years to achieve, with most people achieving that in 12 years.

A black belt is not easy to acquire, and few people will persevere long enough to receive the rank.

The black belt should be a true representation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu principles both on and off the mat. Black belts in BJJ are masters of the craft.

Black belts are frequently called professors. The title relates to the instructor role, similar to how “sensei” is used in Japanese arts. There are six degrees of black belts in all.

A typical BJJ student may require several years of intensive training to acquire the rank of black belt in BJJ, and while some can achieve the black belt in less than eight years, this is unusual.

To put it into perspective, the time it takes to obtain your black belt might be the same as the time it takes to obtain your Ph.D.!

But how does BJJ compare to Aikido?

In a recent article posted on my website, I compared BJJ and Aikido when used for self-defense. Please read up on it on my website and get a feel for the difference between both arts.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

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

It takes most BJJ students an average of 1-2 years to move from white to blue belt, then 2-3 more years to reach purple belt, then 3-4 years to reach brown belt, and finally another 2-3 years to reach black belt.

Let’s explore the BJJ belt system in greater detail:

White Belt

The white belt is the initial rank in Jiu-Jitsu. The beginner will learn basic escapes and submissions, as well as various other movements.

Being a white belt can be frustrating since you are the lowest man on the totem pole, usually always on the receiving end of a submission from a higher belt.

Moving from white to blue belt, you should expect a minimum of 2 years of consistent training (3 days a week or more).

Blue Belt

Blue belt is a significant achievement since it denotes a high level of ability and basic comprehension of the techniques in the art.

Depending on time on the mat, competition experience, and prior grappling expertise, becoming a BJJ blue belt takes about 1-2 years.

Those with a wrestling or Judo background are more likely to attain a blue belt in considerably less time.

Similarly, someone who practices regularly can acquire a blue belt faster than someone who only attends 1-2 times per week.

Purple Belt

Someone who achieves purple has shown significant dedication to Jiu-Jitsu.

Because they understand tactics better, purple belts tend to be more meticulous and slower in their approach to Jiu-Jitsu. As they meet their opponent, their methods mesh into a cohesive strategy.

Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes around 2-3 years of training after getting a blue belt.

Brown Belt

Brown belt is just below the black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It is frequently seen as a time for fine-tuning tactics.

To be eligible for a brown belt, pupils must be at least 18 years old and have had a purple belt for at least 18 months. A practitioner must train at the brown belt level for a minimum of one year before advancing to the black belt, according to the IBJJF.

It takes approximately 3-4 years to practice and obtain a brown belt in BJJ after getting the purple belt.

Black Belt

The black belt is the most sought-after Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt. It is not easy to acquire, and few people will persevere long enough to receive the rank.

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes roughly 2-3 years after a brown belt and a total of 8-15 years to attain.

And honestly, how long the belts take is one of the cons of BJJ.

In a recent article posted on my website, I talked about the pros and cons of BJJ. So if you’re still on the fence about what martial art to do, make sure and look them over. I love BJJ, but there’s 1 thing that keeps me from wanting to stick to it the rest of my life.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is the hardest BJJ belt to get?

The hardest BJJ belt to achieve is likely the brown belt, as the added skills a purple belt needs to become a brown belt are significant but subtle. And it’s those technique subtleties that make all the difference.

But my old BJJ instructor (a multi-degree black belt) once said he loved watching matches between purple belts more than anything else.

Why?

Because he said that watching brown and black belts was boring as the moves were so subtle that they lacked excitement. They were basically playing it safe, conserving energy, and waiting for the other person to make a mistake they could capitalize on.

And purple to brown is where students learn to conserve their movement and their energy.

You may also believe that each subsequent belt is more difficult to obtain than the preceding belt. Right?

Actually, no. This is false.

The truth is that you grow along with your belt. People who go to acquire a belt already have the preceding belt. A brown belt, for example, may be required to learn a berimbolo, whereas a white belt may be asked to learn a hip bump sweep.

A berimbolo is equally as difficult for a purple belt to learn as a hip bump sweep is for a white belt.

So, from this vantage point, all belts are roughly equivalent in “hardness”. 

That means it is just as difficult for a white belt to obtain a blue belt as it is for any other belt progression. Because as you move within belts, they will all seem equally difficult to obtain.

But is Judo easier than BJJ?

In another recent article, I compared BJJ and Judo when used for self-defense. But I also look at the overall pros and cons of both, including belt progression.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can you get a BJJ black belt in 5 years?

There are BJJ fighters such as BJ Penn, who obtained a BJJ black belt in just 3 years. But on average, most students take 10-12 years, so a BJJ black belt in 5 years is highly unlikely.

However, here is a more honest and thoughtful answer to this question.

Some great grapplers earn their black belts in significantly less than ten years. So if you already have wrestling or Judo experience, that can go a long way in speeding up the belt progression.

BJ Penn, who I mentioned above, is well-known for obtaining his black belt in just three years. He’s unique enough that his feat has earned him the moniker “The Prodigy”.

So, it is technically possible to earn your belt in five years if you consider yourself a sort of “prodigy” too.

However, practicing twice a day for six days a week is almost always a formula for burnout rather than a black belt.

It is entirely feasible to earn your black belt in a decade, but it involves training consistently (rare), avoiding injuries (rare), and devoting a significant amount of your energy and lifestyle to Jiu-jitsu.

For most practitioners who practice two to four times per week and enjoy Jiu-jitsu as a hobby, 12-15 years is a much healthier timeframe in which to strive for a black belt.

How old is the average BJJ black belt?

The average age of a BJJ black belt is 42, with most being between 39 and 45. This is because, unlike other martial arts, BJJ takes a long time to master and a longer time between belts.

But it is also worth noting, as I heard Rener Gracie saying once that BJJ is a martial art to retire into.

What he meant was that other martial arts with a higher rate of damage to joints and muscles are better suited for younger people but that BJJ was one that could continue to be practiced well into mid-life.

And, of course, Rickson Gracie, now well over 60, is still a BJJ powerhouse!

BJJ takes time and will put every aspect of your character to the test. A common piece of advice is to maintain a nice and healthy balance of carefree and commitment.

You may desire it, but do not make it your primary objective in life to the point where every other part of your life suffers as a result.

People who are only interested in the belt typically don’t make it through the blue belt since BJJ is difficult and there are no shortcuts.

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

Conclusion

In the starting paragraphs, we looked at how long it takes to get a black belt in BJJ.

We also looked at how long it takes to get each belt in BJJ. We looked at which of the belts are the hardest to get and then checked if it’s possible to get a black belt in five years.

And then we wrapped up with how old the average BJJ black belt is.


Photo which requires attribution:

Tom Callos, Martial Arts School Business Consultant, Doing BJJ by Tom Callos is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

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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