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BJJ BLACK BELT WHITE BAR
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BJJ BLACK BELT WHITE BAR

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There are many traditions that are associated with the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some resonate with the type of bjj belts that a practitioner wears around their waist. When a student gets promoted to the Black belt level they can often be faced with a choice of the type of belt they wear. Most Black belts wear a belt that has the traditional red ranking bar on it, but today it's becoming increasingly common to see Black belts sporting a white ranking bar on their belts.  Understanding the meaning behind the bjj black belt with white bar versus the other variation can help one in their journey. 

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What This Article Covers:

In most cases a student won't receive a choice in the type of belt they wear, instead their instructors will choose for them based on their own ideologies. Some instructors associate the red ranking bar with being an instructor and the white ranking bar as being a highly active competitor. Although it's still very common to see students competing wearing a red ranking bar on their Black belts. In today's competition scene academies are known to be considerably flexible compared to the more tough and regimented processes of old. 

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THE REQUIREMENTS OF A BLACK BELT

There are many expectations when a student achieves the Black belt level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They will become a role model to many of the younger belts, as they will quite often hand out bjj White belt tips in hope they can advance the development of their academies students. Black belts are expected to show leadership and help guide students in all aspects of their learning. Black belts will often make lasting imprints on many of the up and coming athletes in their academy. 

White belts will often ask the question of how to become a Black belt in bjj, and it is up to the Black belts in the club to show them how to achieve such a progression. Black belts should be offering guidance and teaching their students all about the fundamentals of the Martial Art. They should also be helping the younger students reach their bjj White belt goals, this is a high priority and should be at the top of the list for a Black belt.

Black belts have an incredible skill set to offer an academy full of students, like teaching them many of the weapons in their arsenal. They should also be teaching them about humility and personal hygiene, as many newcomers have no idea about how to wash bjj belt and wash their Gi uniforms. The importance of keeping their gear clean is extremely significant, due to the health risks involved with the constant spread of infections. 

There are only a handful of Black belts worldwide in comparison to how many students that train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For the younger students, to receive knowledge and guidance from a Black belt is extremely valuable. Black belts are masterful at how they can teach their ideologies to their students. Developing the youth has always been the top priority for any academy, as the youth is the future in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

WHY DO SOME BLACK BELTS HAVE WHITE RANKING BARS ON THEM 

There are significant bjj belt meanings behind the white ranking bar on the tip of a Black belt. Similarly to the way bjj stripes can symbolized different levels of skill, the bars allow the black belts to be distinguished.  Instructors can promote their students to the Black belt with a white ranking bar on it, as it signifies the student is a highly active competitor. Nowadays many high level competitors are wearing the white ranking bar on their belt, but most of them still have a belt with a red ranking bar as well. Competing with a white or a red ranking bar is optional for high level grapplers, as a lot of them still compete wearing the red bar.

The white ranking bar has been around since the 1980s in Brazil, as it is commonly known in Portuguese as the "competidor" belt. The only problem with wearing a white ranking bar on a Black belt is manufacturing issues. Most of the Martial Arts apparel companies that make belts, make them with the red ranking bar attached, so it becomes increasingly hard to source the white ranking bar version of the belt. More recently the white ranking bar has made appearances in IBJJF competition, as competitors are opting to wear the white bar in place of the red.

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BLACK AND WHITE BAR

The Black and White bar within the BJJ community represents a unique blend of tradition and evolution. A Black belt with a white ranking bar represents the competitive nature of the wearer, emphasizing their active participation in tournaments and bouts. However, the presence of a Black ranking bar alongside the white one signifies the wearer's additional role as an instructor or mentor. This combination of Black and White bars on a belt is relatively rare, but it denotes an individual who has earned respect both as a teacher and as a competitive athlete. The white bar signifies the martial artist's competitive journey, while the black is an indication of their instructional roles and responsibilities.

WHAT DOES THE BLACK BELT WITH RED BAR MEAN

Traditionally the red ranking bar on a BJJ Black belt is meant to signify that the practitioner is an instructor. The Gracie family adopted a system where they handed out belts with a red ranking bar on it to students that were studying their instructor certification. Once the students passed their testing they were awarded a stripe at each end of the red ranking bar to signify that they were indeed an instructor. Although nowadays it is not heavily enforced at most academies, so it is quite common to see Black belts that are not instructors wearing the red ranking bar. 

Some academies use different coloured bars as a way for students to tell apart each of the Black belts. At some academies visiting Black belts would have to wear the white ranking bar so they would not be confused as an instructor employed at the academy. Although seeing a white ranking bar on a Black belt might seem strange, it is more common to see a red ranking bar on most practitioners Black belts.

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THE MEANING OF THE BLUE RANKING BAR

There are a handful of academies that also issue blue ranking bars on their Black belts, this was mainly under the guidance of the Gracie family. Royce Gracie and the Valente Brothers utilise the Blue ranking bar as a tribute to the old ways of Jiu Jitsu. In the beginning the Gracie family adopted a three belt ranking structure that incorporated a Dark Blue belt for the Master to wear. Helio Gracie himself wore the Dark Blue belt, and as the times changed they enforced a more stringent belt ranking system. 

After the success of the coloured belt system which included White, Blue, Purple, Brown and Black belts, Royce Gracie decided on adding Blue ranking bars to his Black belts as a way of honouring the old traditional ways. Royce still awarded Black belts with the traditional red ranking bars, but the blue is also a way of showing his respect to his great family who bestowed the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into his life.

BJJ BLACK BELT WITH GREEN BAR

The BJJ Black belt with a Green bar is a relatively uncommon sight but comes with its unique symbolism. The green bar often symbolizes growth and learning, resonating deeply with the idea of Jiu-Jitsu as a lifelong journey of personal development. In some academies, this green bar may be used to highlight a Black belt who's notably dedicated to the continual evolution of their skills and knowledge, never settling for stagnation. A Black belt with a Green bar is an instructor who's committed not just to teaching others, but also to the never-ending process of learning and growing within the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's crucial to note that while this is not universally recognized, it is used in some academies to differentiate certain Black belts with this distinctive commitment.

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IS IT COMPULSORY TO WEAR THE WHITE BAR TO COMPETE

Although many competitors like to wear the white ranking bar as a tribute to the fact, they are highly active competitors, it is not compulsory to wear the bar. Many competitors still wear the traditional red ranking bar on their Black belts during competition. There have been many high profile grapplers wearing the white ranking bars during competition like; Augusto Mendes, Keenan Cornelius and Leandro Lo. In Leandro's case he tried to wear a Black belt that had no ranking bar in a competition, and after he was not allowed to compete he wrapped the tip of his belt with white tape so he could compete. 

Many students today like to make it known that they are highly active on the competition circuit. In most cases it is the younger generation that wear the white ranking bar in place of the red ranking bar. The red is generally used by the older generation who spend more of their time coaching rather than competing. 

THE ORIGIN OF THE BELT

The history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a rich one, as it dates back to the early 1900's. Helio and Carlos Gracie adapted the Jiu Jitsu they learnt from the Japanese legend Mitsuyo Maeda, the student of the famous Judoka, Kano Jigoro. The Gracie family altered the techniques to fit into a more self dense aspect of Martial Arts.

From the early stages Helio wore a Dark Blue belt, as this represented the Master within the academy. Helio would hand out light Blue belts to his instructors, and kept all of his other students wearing White belts. As their Martial Arts evolved so did the belt ranking system, and the birth of the Black belt was in effect. Helio was in favour of the more stringent belt ranking system that included five different coloured belts.

Now that the Gracie family was adopting Black belts as their top level, and promoting students through the coloured belt system, this made the journey more comprehensive for their White belt students. They also introduced the instructors ranking bar, which was a red panel on the tip of the Black belt. This bar signified a Black belt practitioner who was undergoing an instructors certification, once the student passed the test then two jiu jitsu stripes were added at each end of the ranking bar, to signify an instructor level. They also adopted the white ranking bar, which signified that the Black belt was a highly active competitor.

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BLACK BELT WITH WHITE STRIPE

In the rich tapestry of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the symbolism of a Black belt with a White stripe is more than just an indication of skill. It's a display of dedication, signifying a competitor who's highly active in tournaments and matches. This stripe, which is also referred to as a ranking bar, is typically white in color and located at one end of the Black belt. It is a modern-day nod to the competitor's belt, or "competidor," which has its roots back in the 1980s in Brazil. It exemplifies the wearer's active participation and competitive prowess in the BJJ scene. However, obtaining a Black belt with a White stripe isn't about fashion; it's a testament to the tireless work, immense dedication, and skill that the martial artist has cultivated over years of practice.

DO ALL RANKING BARS RECEIVE STRIPES 

The purpose of a ranking bar on any Jiu Jitsu belt is so first bjj stripes can be displayed. The ranking bar is usually black on all coloured belts and will have enough room for four white stripes to be added. The bjj white belt stripe requirements can vary according to the academy. On a Black belt the ranking bar is commonly red but can also be white or blue depending on the instructors or the academy. 

On a red ranking bar white stripes are known as degrees and are added one every three years until the practitioner is a third degree. They are then graded every five years until they are a sixth degree, their next two degrees are seven years tapart and then ten years each for the ninth and tenth degree. It is also common for an instructor to add black degrees to a white ranking bar. 

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In all cases jiu jitsu stripes or degrees are an important aspect of being a Black belt, as a practitioner with multiple degrees is significantly more experienced than a practitioner with none. A practitioner that has the white ranking bar is usually just an advanced member of a competition team as opposed to the traditional instructor that has the red ranking bar on it. Whichever belt that your instructor bestows upon you, whether it's the red or white ranking bar version, be sure to carry the rank with honour and integrity.

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