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BJJ STRIPES
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BJJ STRIPES

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an age-old Martial Art which dates back to the 1900's, after Mitsuyo Maeda brought the art to Brazil. Helio and Carlos Gracie both were taught the intricacies involved with Jiu Jitsu, and as the Gracie family learnt the art they also learnt the belt ranking system that was later brought into effect. 

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu followed suit behind the art of Judo, by adopting a colored belt system in order to distinguish the rank between students. Each of the bjj belts were awarded bJJ Stripes so the instructor could keep track of the progression of their students between the ranks. There are different bjj Belt meanings, as each of the colored belts represents a different stage in the journey of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many students spend their early days learning BJJ wondering how long to get that first stripe in BJJ.

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jiu jitsu stripes

There is an importance involved with many of the coloured belt ranks, as students will learn over the course of their journey. Each belt represents a new challenge and a new responsibility attached, as students will adhere to the principles and guidelines set out by their instructors. Each of the bjj white belt stripes have a significance that can be unique to the academy. The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a long but rewarding journey as students will need to prove their dedication to their academy.

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THE HISTORY OF THE BELT

There is a significant history behind the belt ranking system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In 1952, Helio and Carlos Gracie adopted a belt system for their Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. All of their students would wear White belts.  Their system was designed so that talented students could take an instructor's test, and they would be awarded Light Blue belts after finishing their diplomas. They also had a Dark Blue belt which was reserved for Masters, so at this time Black belts were non-existent.

By 1967, the Gracie family adopted Black belts for the first time, they introduced a system where their belts had white bars on them to signify just a normal Black belt, while some belts had a red bar which signified a student who was taking an instructor course. Once the student had achieved their diploma of teaching they were awarded white stripes at each end of the red bar, this was to tell the instructors apart from the ordinary Black belts. 

The Gracie's also used White, Yellow, Orange and Green belts for children who were studying Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Nowadays academies utilise a broader array of multi colored belts, this is mainly to keep students more invested in their progression. In the Adults case a belt system was introduced where a student would go through White, Blue, Purple and Brown before they could understand how to become a Black belt in bjj. Every belt was awarded four stripes so the instructor could keep track of the progression of each student.  It's important to even understand what side of the belt the stripes go on a bjj belt.

WHAT DO STRIPES MEAN

The meaning behind the stripe will vary from club to club, and has significantly different meanings when awarded to each belt. From the White belt perspective the first couple stripes can be awarded purely for encouragement or for showing good attendance. As the student progresses, each stripe has different meanings, some of those meanings could be; understanding a certain concept, showing technical aptitude, performing well in a competition, showing practical skills or putting in significant time. Some academies will adopt a curriculum style of progression and award stripes as their students achieve technical proficiency in different Jiu Jitsu White belt moves. Some of the criteria for being awarded stripes are.

  • Learning to keep a student's body in base and utilising efficient grips to dominate an opponent.
  • Utilising appropriate weight distribution when securing effective control positions.
  • Mastering certain movements, like a sweep or a submission, especially making them work in a real life scenario.
  • Showing excellent continuity in their training and proving they are dedicated to improving in the art.
  • Performing well on the competition scene, this does not necessarily mean winning but sometimes just testing your skills can get rewarded.

There is a difference between the meaning of jiu jitsu belts and stripes. The Blue belt is a different level where the student has achieved an understanding of the basic fundamentals in BJJ. They have also gained a level of technical understanding, so the stripes given to a Blue belt can have varied meanings. Sometimes a student has such a natural talent for grappling, that the stripes they earn are all related to time served within their academy. Some stripes can be given on the basis of achieving certain techniques or principles. Blue belts can also receive stripes by competing well, showing good coaching skills or even just rolling well during training. The IBJJF standard says that a Blue belt must spend two years in the rank before they can be promoted, meaning that stripes can take at least five months for each one awarded. Let's have a look at some of the criteria involved for earning stripes.

  • Showing technical aptitude, mastering the more technical movements involved.
  • Starting to show some skills in coaching, this is usually found in Blue belts that begin teaching kids.
  • Improving considerably on the takedown aspects of Jiu Jitsu, this can be mastering throws or showing exceptional takedown defenses. 
  • Executing submission chains, this means going from one submission to the next during the real life scenarios.
  • Showing considerable humility and being extremely helpful towards other members in their academy.
  • Spending vast amounts of time training in the academy.
  • Excelling on the competition scene or just showing courage by going up against formidable opponents.

When a student is promoted to the ranks of Purple belt bjj, it becomes harder to earn stripes. Each stripe on a Purple belt can take six to twelve months to earn, unless the student is showing exceptional qualities. Purple belts can receive stripes for their application of conceptual thinking, their adaptation of significant coaching skills, their performance against other high level practitioners or simply just because they are showing great continuity. There is significant reasoning behind how different instructors hand out their stripes, and in some cases certain instructors do not hand out stripes on their coloured belts. Here are some of the criteria involved in the Purple belt progression.

  • Showing outstanding coaching ability and helping other younger belts at the academy.
  • Achieving technical proficiency by mastering chains of movements including passing, sweeping and submission.
  • Showing conceptual thinking, by applying concepts to their game style.
  • Proving their ability to alter movements to fit into their game style.
  • Showing dedication to their academy through continuity and old fashioned work ethic.
  • Showing dominance on the mats by rolling well against other students including higher belts.

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During the years of Brown belt Jiu Jitsu, practitioners will have to step up their quality if they want to receive stripes. Earning stripes on a Brown belt is serious business as the next step is the coveted Black belt. Like many of the stripes involved throughout the Jiu Jitsu journey they can usually be awarded for time served in the rank. Brown belts will usually receive stripes for their dominance inside the academy or on the competition mats, they can also receive stripes for their continued coaching pathways. Let's have a look at some of the criteria involved.

  • Showing superior refinement of their techniques.
  • Strengthening their weaknesses, like improving a part of their game that is less effective.
  • Enhancing their coaching abilities by running classes for adults and children.
  • Dominating on the training or competition mats, showing exceptional technical application.
  • Showing dedication to their academy through hard-working and continuity.

Once a student has reached the pinnacle of Jiu Jitsu, earning stripes on their Black belt is all about time. Once a student becomes a Black belt the stripes they receive are called degrees. Each degree has a set amount of time a student must wait, the first three degrees are awarded every three years followed by the fourth, fifth and sixth degrees which are all awarded every five years. The next two degrees are awarded every seven years and a coral belt is handed out. Once a student earns a Coral belt they are no longer considered a Professor instead they are a Master.

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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN STRIPES 

It can take a long time to earn stripes on a practitioner's belt, but for everyone the time is different. Some students are extremely dedicated and continuity comes easy, in those cases stripes can be handed down rather quickly. Other practitioners will struggle to be consistent, making it extremely hard for an instructor to award stripes on their belt. Some students have a natural ability to comprehend Jiu Jitsu techniques, and have the capacity to achieve technical proficiency, these students will be awarded stripes faster then the average practitioner.

On average a stripe will be awarded every five months to a student. There have been many cases in the past where a student will receive more than one stripe in a single grading, this can be due to their exceptional skills. Stripes are a measure of skill that a student can use to gauge their progression from one belt to the next. No matter how long it takes to earn stripes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, practitioners should stay dedicated and follow the guidance of their instructors, because the rewards at the end of each progression cycle is a step up into the next belt rank.

WHY ARE STRIPES IMPORTANT 

Stripes are an extremely important and effective tool to help students navigate their way through each belt division. A stripe can be the only component for a Martial Artist continuing to train in BJJ, sometimes training in a long and slowly rewarding Martial Art can be boring and drawn out, but when a student is awarded a stripe it can rejuvenate their ambitions for success. 

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bjj belt stripes

Stripes are often the measuring tool for an instructor that has a large base of students. Trying to keep track of a hundred plus students and where they are up to in their progression level can prove extremely tricky. When an instructor gives their students stripes it becomes a lot easier to manage where all of the students are up to in their progression through the ranks.

Quite often when kids begin training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will quickly lose focus and become bored with training. Kids have a short attention span which results in many kids quitting the art, so when an instructor gives his younger students stripes it can keep them interested for longer. That's why there are more belts involved in the kids divisions, this is to help the kids stay interested and so there are shorter periods of time between gradings.

Many instructors use stripes as their way to reward students for their application of the Jiu Jitsu techniques. When a student is training hard and spending a vast amount of time invested in BJJ, they realise just how long does it take to become a Black belt in bjj. Receiving stripes is a great reward system for a student who is determined on reaching the higher levels in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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