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HOW LONG TO GET FIRST STRIPE BJJ
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HOW LONG TO GET FIRST STRIPE BJJ

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The length of time it takes to receive the first bjj stripe in Jiu Jitsu will always vary from club to club. All instructors have different ideologies when it comes to grading their students. Some instructors grade purely on a students skill set while others will grade according to their time spent training inside the academy.

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What This Article Covers:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an ancient form of Martial Arts, which has ties to another form of Martial Arts, Judo. In the early days the Gracie family were taught the art of Jiu Jitsu, where they developed their own system of self defense. Helio and Carlos Gracie had their own system of belts which included only three, a White, a Light Blue and a Dark Blue. They later adopted a Black belt system which included their belts having different bars on them to signify instructors. There are additional nuances to the belts such as what side do stripes go on bjj belt.

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first stripe white belt bjj

Like many Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu implemented a coloured belt ranking system which started from a White belt and included a Blue, Purple and Brown on the way towards a Black belt. Each of the bjj belts were graded with four stripes so the instructor could easily manage the progression of all of their students between each coloured belt rank. There are different bjj Belt meanings, from the beginners White belt, the many multi coloured kids belts, through to the middle ranks of the Purple belt and the prestigious Black belt. All of these different belts have a significant meaning and measure of the students skills and abilities within their academy. 

Understanding the importance of each coloured belt and what each jiu jitsu stripe signifies is an evolution of learning for each student. Every belt has its own unique set of requirements and challenges, every student that is graded through stripes and to their next belt level have certain responsibilities expected of them. Earning any significant promotions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely worthwhile reward, especially considering how long the journey can be. 

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UNDERSTANDING THE EVOLUTION OF BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved exponentially over the course of the last eighty years. From the humble beginnings of a Japanese Martial Artist who gifted the Gracie Family with an exceptional series of self defense movements, to the now more significant sports based Jiu Jitsu seen at the ADCC level. In the fifties, Helio Gracie used only three belts to measure the skills of his students in Jiu Jitsu. He gave beginners White belts and offered Light Blue belts to students who became instructors within his academy. He also preserved the older Masters by rewarding them with Dark Blue belts. 

Towards the end of the sixties the Gracie family changed their measurement of progression by incorporating Black belts for the first time in their history. Helio and Carlos introduced a specific belt ranking system where their belts bjj black belt white bar on them to detail an ordinary Black belt. They added another Black belt which had a red bar on it, which was used to measure students who participated in a diploma of coaching. Once the student was awarded their diploma, their belts were graded with white stripes at each end of the red bar. Now the Masters could distinguish the instructors apart from the ordinary Black belts. 

The Gracie's began using White, Yellow, Orange and Green belts for children but later added further belts like Grey, Grey/White, Grey/Black, Yellow/White, Yellow/Black, Orange/White, Orange/Black, Green/White and Green/Black, this was to give the kids more regular gradings so they would stay interested. In the Adults divisions a belt system was implemented where the students would go through White, Blue, Purple, Brown and then Black. They began using stripes on the students belt so an instructor could manage the progression of their students more easily. Each belt is awarded four stripes before the student can be upgraded to the next belt rank.

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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN STRIPES

The length of time between stripes will differ from student to student, as each student has a different capability in learning and application. The measurement system will also change due to the differences of philosophy with different instructors. Different academies will have vastly different but stringent ways of measuring how their students are progressing. 

WHITE BELT

The White belt phase can be the most difficult time in the whole Jiu Jitsu journey, as it requires a student to develop a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles in the sport. It can take some students twelve months to attain their first stripe especially if they are inconsistent with their training. Other students will begin their journey with a lot of enthusiasm and will strive for continuity within their training, these students can receive their first stripe as quick as a month into the start of their training.

During the White belt phase students will learn many Jiu Jitsu White belt moves and they will need to set continuous bjj White belt goals if they are serious about earning stripes and moving through the ranks. Some instructors will award stripes for time or how well they roll on the mats, while others will adopt a more stringent curriculum which involves certain movements to be achieved. Some of these techniques could include;

  • Controlling positions, students will need to understand how to control opponents in the main positions like guard, mount, side control and back control.
  • Sweeps, students may need to master certain sweeps like the scissor or the hip bump sweep before they can earn a stripe.
  • Submissions, some academies will require their students to be able to understand the mechanics of an Armbar or a Rear Naked Choke in order for progression.
  • Escapes, students will find that one of the most important aspects of Jiu Jitsu is developing how to escape from mount, side control, back control and the guard. Although it may not be required to be able to escape all positions, it is very important to be able to at least defend submissions.
  • Guard retention, usually a prerequisite to achieve a stripe is having the ability to recover the guard. Although this does fall under the escape category, it is a skill in itself to be able to continually retain the guard from bad positions.

BLUE BELT

Stripes often have different meanings at different coloured belt levels. The significance of stripes on the Blue belt can be extremely different from that of the White belt. Earning that first stripe on the brand new Blue belt can be as simple as winning competitions or submitting higher belts on a regular basis. Instructors will have their own criteria that they expect a Blue belt to tick. Moving from Blue to Purple belt bjj is a significant period in a practitioner's journey. Some students are naturally gifted while others will have to work extensively on how they progress, these are real factors that an instructor will need to include in their grading processes. Understanding the technical side of Jiu Jitsu dawns on students at different times in their journey, the student who can develop the application of these processes quicker will quite often find themselves moving through the ranks faster than most. Here are some principles that may help a Blue belt earn that coveted stripe.

  • Technical ability, a Blue belt will begin to advance their skills beyond their strength ability, they will start to use certain techniques to dominate their opponents.
  • Teaching, Blue belts will often assist higher belts in teaching kids classes, it can be common for them to receive stripes as they start to develop good coaching skills. 
  • Takedowns, this is a facet that sometimes can be beyond the realms of White belt as usually it can be dangerous to practise, but for the Blue belt developing a skill set for the takedown aspect can earn themselves stripes. 
  • Blue belts can be awarded stripes for utilising a sequence of submissions, like setting up a Triangle and then moving to the Armbar or Omoplata.
  • Blue belts will often receive stripes after a certain amount of time has passed, sometimes even when a student has not improved significantly they are rewarded for putting in time and dedication. 
  • One of the more common ways to receive stripes in today's Jiu Jitsu is by winning competitions or even just testing their abilities against opponents from other clubs. 

PURPLE BELT

The Purple belt bjj level is one of the hardest but most exciting times in a practitioner's career. Earning stripes becomes harder and harder the further up in the ranks a student goes. Every stripe awarded on a Purple belt can take anywhere from six to twelve months to earn, unless the student is comprehensively improving. Purple belts usually earn stripes for their ability to think conceptually, or for their continuing development of their teaching skills. They can also achieve rewards through their dedication towards their academy, showing continuity is always a deciding factor for a Black belt when they are grading a student. Purple belt progression can be hard for certain students as many are feeling the sting of at least six years in the Martial Art, some of the aspects they should focus on are;

  • Purple belts must continue to develop their teaching ability, a good way to do this is by taking certain members under their tutelage and helping them develop their skills.
  • A Purple belt must achieve technical proficiency, they can achieve this by developing their sequences of movements. 
  • A good way to earn stripes is by conceptual thinking, this means to apply certain concepts to their repouture. Utilising different concepts will advance a Purple belts ability to develop their Jiu Jitsu.
  • Purple belts will need to advance their capability of reinventing certain movements so it will appropriately fit into their game styles. 
  • Like every belt level, showing dedication to their academy through continuity is always a top priority.
  • Purple belts can achieve upgrades purely by how they roll at their academy, if they are dominating higher belts that can be a contributing factor.

BROWN BELT

After receiving a promotion from the Purple belt level, Brown belt Jiu Jitsu can be exceptionally harder to fit into. Earning stripes from here on out will only come through technical excellence and dedication to continuity. Even at the Brown belt level stripes can be earned through time served in the rank, the only difference is a student will not go up to Black unless they have proven themselves worthy. With every other belt level an instructor can give out the belt early, knowing they will certainly step up to the plate, but with a Black belt they have to be worthy. Brown belts will often earn their stripes for showing dominance against other members inside their academy or during competition matches. Brown belts will also be rewarded with stripes for their development of their teaching skill. Here are a few tips for Brown belts wanting to step up in level.

  • Brown belts must improve in all areas of their game, this can be achieved by refining their techniques.
  • Brown belts need to identify where they are deficient and look to strengthen that part of their game, weaknesses in Jiu Jitsu is like a cancer so they must improve and master all facets.
  • Brown belts will continue to improve on their coaching skills, this is through constant facilitating classes for adults and children.
  • Brown belts can upgrade by competing well at tournaments and by showing exceptional technical proficiency.
  • Like all belt levels, showing dedication to their academy is always a good idea, because hard work and continuity is the recipe for success.

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bjj first stripe

BLACK BELT

Earning stripes on a Black belt is all about time served, a stripe is called a degree and every three years a degree is earnt. When a Black belt earns his second degree then they are able to award Black belts to their students. When a third degree is earnt so is the rank of Professor. Moving into the fourth, fifth and sixth degrees a Black belt must serve five years per degree. The seventh and eighth degree is earned after seven years and is rewarded with a Coral belt and so is the rank of Master. The ninth and tenth degrees are reserved for Grandmasters and are awarded Red belts. It is safe to say only a small handful of dedicated pioneers will ever reach that far into the journey of BJJ. 

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WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO EARN STRIPES 

The reason it takes a long time to earn bjj stripes on a student's belt is simple, if a student was to be awarded a Black belt in two years the Art would be easy for everyone. Jiu Jitsu is a much more complex beast to understand and it takes several years to apply principles to a fight scenario. A fight can be over in seconds so being able to develop a style of fighting that holds up in a pivotal moment is imperative. The time it takes for each individual to earn stripes is different, and as long as they are putting in the hard work they will achieve their goals. The only way to ensure a student will improve is through dedication and consistency. Some students will have a significantly harder time than others to achieve continuity, making it a really hard task for their coach to add gradings to their belt. A coach can never count out natural ability, as these are students who accomplish Jiu Jitsu proficiency rather easily.

A stripe can be awarded every five months to a student or even sooner for a student that possesses extreme dedication and natural ability.  Some students will receive multiple stripes in one sitting but this only happens if students have missed gradings or are deemed worthy of a higher level. There are cases like Judo Black belts moving through the early ranks of Jiu Jitsu rather quickly, due to their high skill level in the grappling arts. Stripes are a measure of skill that students use to track their progression from one belt to the next. 

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STRIPES ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF BJJ

Stripes are a necessary tool for instructors to use, it will commonly help students measure their skills, helping them to further improve on their BJJ. In a slow rewarding Martial Art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, stripes are extremely valuable and will be a reason that a student continues to train. Being awarded stripes will keep a student focused on their ability to improve in the Martial Art.

Many academies have a large number of members and trying to keep track of their skill level can prove extremely difficult. By using jiu jitsu stripes an instructor can easily measure the progression of their students. An instructor should have the ability to manage their academy by knowing who is ready to be graded. This is also apparent with kids classes, and instructors can often lose sight of certain members inside their academy. Kids will often respond well to receiving new stripes or belts, it is a huge factor for them in retaining their drive to stay in Martial Arts.

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