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How Long to Get a Brown Belt in BJJ

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It can take an extremely long time to earn a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and most people that start BJJ will probably never get there. In a lot of cases just reaching the halfway mark and earning a Purple belt is an achievement enough for most. But there are a handful of special cases that will reach the precipice before the top level of BJJ. 

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how long to get brown belt bjj

Reaching the upper echelon of higher ranks in BJJ is not for faint hearted, as Brown belt Jiu Jitsu and Black belt Jiu Jitsu fighters are extremely talented and highly ferocious on the mats. Don't be fooled by their sense of calmness, as you might have heard the old proverb "the calm before the storm". Brown belts are in a lot of ways more dangerous than a Black belt, due to their hunger for reaching the pinnacle of BJJ. 

What This Article Covers:

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THE PATH BEGINS AT WHITE

The journey of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu starts as a White belt, and in most cases the beginner is truly out of their depth. As a beginner, having bjj White belt goals will help the student carve out a pathway towards seniority.  

White belts would be wise to seek the guidance of the higher belts, allowing them to pass on their knowledge, expertise, and discipline. During the White belt phase, a student will need to be humble and willing to listen. They need a strong work ethic and a high level of patience, as progression towards the next belt rank can be very slow.

White belt students should also stick to the basics, learning the fundamentals is how they will forge an everlasting foundation that will lead them to a higher evolution of BJJ. Although some of the components may seem boring, it is imperative they learn Jiu Jitsu White belt moves before they move into the more advanced techniques taught to the higher belts.

MOVING THROUGH THE RANKS

Earning promotions from a Black belt instructor is an amazing feeling, but it also comes with its daunting side. It is an honour and a privilege to be awarded the next belt level in BJJ, but with the promotion comes a new expectation from the coach and the academy's members. 

There is also the daunting age old tradition of the belt whipping, which requires students who are promoted to a new belt to walk the gauntlet while they are being whipped by bjj belts swung by the members. This tradition doesn't happen at every gym, but it can still be enforced by an instructor, in most cases the student looks forward to the whipping as a right of passage. 

Once a student has been promoted to a Blue belt, it is like riding a bike and finally taking off the training wheels. A Blue belt has a new hunger for training as they begin to research techniques, hunt down higher belts, and delve deeper into the curriculum as they try to climb the ladder even further.

Blue belts are like the older brothers at the gym, they want to begin helping their younger White belt siblings. Blue belt students are notorious for trying to rush from a Blue To Purple belt bjj promotion. The reality is they will spend at least two years wearing a Blue belt, unless they fast track their promotion by achieving success at a competitive level.

THE MIDDLE CHILD

The Purple belt is often referred to as the middle child, the halfway point to the coveted Black belt status. Purple belt bjj is a serious time in the development of a Jiu Jitsu practitioner, it's a time where they need to develop their strategies in order to bait their opponents. Purple belts will have an in depth knowledge stream, as they start to own their spot on the mats.

At the Purple belt level, they will start to develop their understanding of how to coach; in essence, they are studying for a teaching degree. Students wearing a Purple belt are expected to be part of the leadership group, as they will often help out by teaching some classes or at least working in one-on-one situations with White or Blue belts, participating in sparring sessions to further enhance their skills.

Some students are extremely motivated at the Purple belt level, so they become highly active on the competition scene. While others will still be motivated but for different reasons as they choose to spend their time in the gym refining their game style. Moving from Purple to Brown belt can be a difficult task, as a student must show exceptional skills and dedication to their academy. It can take anywhere from two to five years to upgrade the colour on a students belt to Purple, but the rewards are worth the time.

LAST STOP BEFORE BLACK

Reaching the final step before earning a Black belt doesn't happen for many students, in fact less than 35% of Purple belts reach the Brown belt level, and only 3% of all students that start in BJJ. Many students find it difficult to move past the Purple belt level, whether it is because of injuries, life commitments or they are just happy to stay at Purple. For the dedicated few  moving to Brown belt is an exciting time.

Brown belts are highly talented athletes that possess a technical aptitude for Jiu Jitsu. By this stage of their evolution, they have battle tested everything they have learned, and have developed their own style of BJJ. A Brown belt will know how to set traps and stay a few steps ahead of their opponents; they will also be matching it with all the Black belts. Another quality they possess is the ability to redesign techniques or concepts to fit their own game style. Once a student has reached the penultimate belt, they are basically as good as Black belt, all that is left is time and some further refining, possibly through participating in tournaments to showcase their skills in a competitive setting.

Most Brown belts only stay at that level for a year as they are incredibly close to becoming a Professor, although it can still take some students several years. Brown belts will also have a gift for coaching, as by this stage they have had a lot of experience, and in some cases have started their own BJJ school. 

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WHY DO SO FEW REACH THE BROWN BELT LEVEL

There are a number of reasons why only 3% of students make it to the coveted Brown belt level. Training in such a complex Martial Art is always going to take hard work, patience, good body and mind conditioning and trust in your training partners.

INJURY SETBACKS

One of the most common reasons a student doesn't make the transition to Brown belt is because they suffer from injuries. If a student starts Jiu Jitsu later in life, then their body will always be playing catch up as they progress. Jiu Jitsu is a high-intensity Martial Art that has some complex and vulnerable positions that a student might find themselves in. Injuries can come from the smallest aspect, like they didn't warm up properly, all the way to they were overtraining. Other reasons are failing to tap in time or just competing at the higher levels; all can be causes of minor to major injury. Unfortunately, for many, these kinds of injuries will often hold a student back from reaching their true potential and hence failing to earn a promotion to Brown belt, even if they put in the required hours of training.

LIFE COMMITMENTS 

Everyone involved in the Jiu Jitsu community has family and work commitments, sometimes these can be a factor in holding back grapplers from earning promotions. Usually when a student becomes a parent they will realise how important family is, while students that were already parents will know all too well the rigorous aspects involved with raising children. Other students will suffer from work related commitments, like military personnel, who will always be relocated making it extremely hard to have continuity and be graded consistently. Although Jiu Jitsu is extremely important to all its members, life usually has a way of showing a student what is most important in their life at the time.

JUST SATISFIED 

Some practitioners will spend a decade training in Jiu Jitsu and never reaching the Brown belt level. Many Purple belts are just content with staying at Purple, and have little desire to push for the higher ranks. Quite often this is because they no longer want to put in over two days per week training. When you look at it, if a student reaches Purple belt after an extensive period of time, they will often tell themselves I'm not sure how to become a Black belt in bjj. Thoughts like this can be poisonous for the progression of the student, but this just comes down to being content. Some people are just happy to sit in the middle, while others will grit their teeth and aim for the stars.

REDLINE POTENTIAL 

Another reason some students don't get to the last levels in BJJ, sadly they are just not good enough. Some students will try hard and work towards the higher levels, but unfortunately they have reached their potential at Blue or the Purple belt level. Sometimes there are reasons why a student has redlined with their career, like injury and other commitments, but there is also a true fact that not everyone can reach the prized higher levels of BJJ. 

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF BEING A BJJ BROWN BELT

There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of a BJJ Brown belt, as they are role models within an academy. There are many qualities that a Brown belt should possess like; integrity, kindness, humility, patience, intelligence and many others. Some of the requirements are;

ROLE MODEL

A BJJ Brown belt has to be a role model for everyone at an academy. All of the members look up to the higher belts, so they must lead by example and show great qualities. Others will follow their lead and become valued members of their academy.

TECHNICALLY SOUND

A Brown belt must be able to teach techniques to all other members in their academy. Their techniques must be correct so the younger belts can start to build good habits. A Brown belt is entrusted by the Black belt head coach to be a representative of their academy.

FOUNTAIN OF KNOWLEDGE

Brown belts must have a wealth of knowledge to share, as many younger belts will often seek their expertise. It is extremely important for a Brown belt to be able to answer any questions that are thrown at them. Brown belts have such a tremendous ability that sharing their knowledge is easy.

COMPETITIVE BEAST

Although it is not a requirement for a Brown belt to compete, they still must be able to effectively grapple with all members of their academy. They must be ferocious on the training mats, so younger belts have a standard of rolling to live up to. Brown belts are naturally competitive because they are on their way to becoming a Black belt, and this competitiveness is honed over months of dedicated training and sparring.

There is no prerequisite of techniques that a Brown belt should know as such, but it is expected that they have an incredible amount of maneuvers in their arsenal. Brown belts should basically know everything that a Black belt does, they are just refining all their techniques in order to earn the promotion. 

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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN A BROWN BELT PROMOTION 

The time will vary under different instructors, but essentially it is up to the student. Some world class grapplers have reached their Brown belts in less than three years, but those kinds of athletes live and breathe Jiu Jitsu and train three times a day 6 days a week. For the average practitioner it takes at least five to twelve years depending on a few factors like;

NATURAL SKILL

Some students are blessed with a knack for talent, as they are naturally gifted from a young age. These kinds of practitioners will glide through the BJJ ranking system with ease. Having a natural skill for Jiu Jitsu makes for easy learning, so these are the kinds of practitioners that hit their mark in record times.

NATURAL ATHLETICISM 

Some students are born natural athletes, or have been gifted with great genetics. Others are even pushed and trained from a young age in various sports, strength and conditioning practices. A gifted student will always have an advantage over ordinary students.

DETERMINATION 

One of the most likely ways to achieve a Brown belt in Jiu Jitsu is through sheer determination. If a student puts their head down and works extremely hard then only good things can happen. The most successful people in the world all speak about their hard work and sacrifice to get to where they need to be. 

COMPETITIVE FEROCIOUSNESS

Another way to convince your instructor that you are worthy of a Brown belt, is through the competition arena. If a student wins Gold medals or just competes extensively, then they will find that belt promotions will come thick and fast. 

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how long to get a brown belt in bjj

So earning a Brown belt is an exceptional achievement, and one that only a select bunch of people in the world achieve. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is unlike any other Martial Arts, where a Black belt can be achieved in two years, instead a BJJ Black belt can take eight to fifteen years and a Brown belt five to twelve years to earn. Although BJJ is highly complex it is absolutely fun and rewarding trying to make it to the top of the mountain.

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