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How to Become a Black Belt in BJJ
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How to Become a Black Belt in BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is unlike many of the different Martial Arts in the world, it is highly complex and is continuously evolving. It can take a practitioner over a decade to reach the coveted Black belt level, and some even longer. Reaching the Black belt rank is an amazing accomplishment, which has only been achieved by a small number of Martial Artists worldwide.

Follow the advice of combat legend Tom DeBlass on his ROAD TO BLACKBELT AND BEYOND available from BJJFanatics.com.

becoming a black belt in bjj

There are common questions asked by practitioners when they start BJJ, like how long does it take to get a Black belt in bjj. Once an instructor explains the ranking system to a new student they are usually inclined to ask how long does it take to get a Blue belt in bjj. An instructor usually will have no definitive answer as the time will be completely up to the student. The way a student trains and how fast they learn will determine when they move up the ranks.

What This Article Covers:

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IN THE BEGINNING

The BJJ journey begins as a White belt, and usually that means the student is over energetic, unbalanced, impatient and uses too much strength. This is a common occurrence among the beginning of the bjj belts, as White belts are still very inexperienced. It takes hard work, strong guidance and dedicated bjj White belt goals to improve to a higher level. Moving from White to Blue belt is all about mastering the fundamentals.

Let's have a look at some of the important fundamentals involved when moving from White to Blue belt.

  • CONTROLLING AN OPPONENT: It is extremely important that a White belt understands the concepts involved with controlling an opponent. It is impossible to execute an armbar submission without first controlling their opponent's arm. 
  • GOOD POSTURE: Maintaining a good posture is a must for beginners, as the posture will dictate where your body will go or be taken. Having excellent posture will make a student hard to move, and understanding posture will make it easier to break an opponent's posture down.
  • RELAX AND BREATHE: A Beginner must be able to stay relaxed so they can maximise their chance of success. Learning how to regulate your breathing will go a long way in helping a student to stay relaxed when they are in the middle of a battle.
  • SECURING POSITIONS: As a beginner starts to improve they will realise how important it is to secure dominant positions. They will know how to rest when they are in these positions but still be able to stay heavy and wear their opponent down.
  • GRIPS AND RE-GRIPS: Another important aspect for beginners is to improve on their grips. Handling opponents with strong grips will leave a student in good stead, but they must understand when to change their grips as the battle unfolds.
  • BALANCE: It is extremely important for a beginner to focus on and develop their balance, this will help them stay active while they are attempting guard passes. An unbalanced practitioner will find themselves easily swept, which will lead to disaster.

THE FIRST PROMOTION 

Becoming a Blue belt is an exciting time for a practitioner, as they are usually full of inspiration. It is quite common to see Blue belts in the competition scene trying to cash in on some tournament bling. A practitioner will endeavour to improve from Blue to Purple belt bjj, as they step up towards the leadership group within their academy.

At the Blue belt level is where the journey stagnates for a lot of practitioners. Some students are happy just to make it to that next level, where others become extremely hungry as they begin hunting higher belts in search of future promotions. A Blue belt will need to show technical proficiency as they head into their Purple belt. They should also be heavily in tune with their own game style, as they begin to adapt techniques to fit into their arsenal.

Let's have a look at some of the goals needed for a Blue belt to gain promotion to Purple belt bjj.

  • TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY: A Blue belt must improve with their technical Jiu Jitsu, and stray away from the old habits of using too much muscle. Being strong and crushing opponents will only get a student so far, they must find a higher level to operate from.
  • TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE: A Blue belt will need to focus hard and study many Jiu Jitsu principles, so they can build their vault of technical knowledge. This means opening up their minds and listening to other experienced Martial Artists.
  • LEADERSHIP: Blue belts must develop into good role models at their academy, and begin to take teaching seriously and develop their coaching abilities. This can become easier if they offer to get involved with teaching kids classes.
  • FLOW CHAINS: A Blue belt is usually good at a few moves, but to gain further promotion they need to develop their movements into flow chains. They need to be able to switch between various techniques in order to execute their goals.

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THE MIDDLE BELT

Stepping into an academy with a Purple belt around your waist comes with extra responsibility. The practitioner has to be a leader as they have been adopted into the coaching group. With the amount of knowledge a Purple belt should have they are extremely valuable to the younger belts. Most Purple belts want to share their knowledge and have a lot of insights to offer. 

A Purple belt will need to set their sights on refining their game styles and exploring all avenues in search of improvement. They will use their years as the middle belt to explore their teaching capabilities. It is quite common for a Purple belt to facilitate classes, this is mainly so their Black belt instructor can watch closely and grade their students further.

Let's have a look at how a Purple belt can progress to Brown belt Jiu Jitsu.

  • MASTER FLOW CHAINS: The student must be able to develop their techniques into a series of techniques that can be easily accessed from any position. This also includes defending submissions in a flow of defenses.
  • EXPLORE CONCEPTS: Purple belts should be developing in all concepts including systems they are not always in tune with, to achieve the next level in BJJ takes ingenuity. They must trust in a concept and be able to apply that to their game style. 
  • DEVELOP TEACHING SKILLS: A Purple belt will be fast tracking their next belt promotion by advancing in their ability to teach to a full class in both kids and adults. It is also important to engage in one on one coaching with younger belts.
  • OFFER GUIDANCE: It is extremely important for a high belt to offer guidance to many of the younger belts in their academy. It is always hard for a Black belt to keep up with all of their students, so receiving help from a Purple belt will go a long way.

THE FINAL HURDLE 

Earning a Brown belt promotion doesn't happen for many students, but for the ones that do level up, statistics show they will go on to become a Black belt. Stepping up to the Brown belt level can be daunting, as it is a significant rise above the Purple belt level. Students that achieve this promotion are exceptionally talented and hungry to climb the ranks in their academy.

A Brown belt will have a tremendous amount of technical knowledge, and in most cases as much as a Black belt. They will also be exceptional with their own specific game style. Brown belts are dynamic inside their academies as most other students will struggle to match their speed and skills. A Brown belt will have a potent mix of technique, strength, speed and heart, it's the reason why they have been entrusted to wear the belt.

Along with all of their technical wizardry, Brown belts will be excellent teachers. Being trusted to wear a Brown belt means their instructors have extreme faith in their students, as they will become one of the main coaches at the academy. Brown belts will often teach kids and adult classes with their highly technical coaching style. 

Let's have a look at what it takes to make it to the coveted Black belt level.

  • STRENGTHEN WEAKNESS: Brown belts will need to work extensively on their weaknesses, and turn them into strengths. They can achieve this by constant repetition and by using their weaknesses in mid battle.
  • REFINEMENT: Brown belts will need to spend their year or two in the penultimate belt refining all of their techniques. This means perfecting many of their movements so they can become even more deadly.
  • SIGNATURE MOVES: Brown belts need to become even more proficient by sharpening their most effective submissions. This includes submission chains so they can change between finishers at will. 
  • WORK ETHIC: Overall to achieve the last belt promotion, Brown belts just need to work hard and show their coach dedication. A student that shows tremendous work on the mats is in good stead for a promotion to the top level in BJJ. 

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HOW TO EARN A BLACK BELT 

Earning a Black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been compared to the likes of earning a doctorate. With the complexity of movements involved in BJJ it makes for a difficult task to work through all the coloured belt ranks. There is no easy way to achieve a Black belt apart from dedication, hard work and continuity. There is an old saying that goes; a Black belt is a student that just never quit.

Let's have a look at the key principles involved in earning a Black belt.

  • HUMILITY: A student must spend their years with a humble mindset, being stubborn and not tapping early on in their career can bring out arrogance in a practitioner. A Black belt is a student that has tapped thousands of times according to the Gracie family.
  • DEDICATION: Earning a Black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is like many complicated things, it requires the student to put in several years of dedication. A student must work hard and show their instructors they are dedicated, not only to the art but to their academy too.
  • CONTINUITY: A Student can show signs of progression through technical aptitude or competition success, but if their attendance is low then it will take a long time to achieve belt promotions. If a Student has continuity in their training then they will significantly enhance their chances of reaching the pinnacle in BJJ. 
  • TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY: You cannot reach the highest level in BJJ without technical proficiency, a student must be able to show outstanding technical abilities. This includes all aspects of Jiu Jitsu, this will take years of slow accumulation of many concepts and techniques learnt.
  • HEART: One of the biggest facets of becoming a Black belt in BJJ is a student's heart. They must show incredible heart by enduring years of high intensity training, they must be able to show heart when they are deep in the trenches in mid battle. If a Student already has heart then becoming a Black belt is just a matter of time.
  • ROLL: If a student wants to become a Black belt then they must put in thousands of hours of training. Learning and practicing technique will only get a student so far, they must battle test their game style by rolling a lot. Roll with as many high level practitioners throughout the journey, as it is a fast tracked way to reach the goal.
  • SELF BELIEF: A Student can achieve many successes on the Jiu Jitsu mats through hard work and natural skill, but to make it all the way they need to believe in themselves. During the rise to Black belt there are many obstacles that can hinder a students progression, so keeping a positive mindframe and conjuring self belief is extremely important.

Get some help along the way with Tom DeBlass as he walks with you on THE ROAD TO BLACK BELT AND BEYOND.

how to earn a black belt in bjj

If a student never gives up and continues to train, then reaching the Black belt level is just a matter of when. Becoming a Black belt is one of the most prestigious honours anyone involved in Martial Arts can earn. Black belts in BJJ are amongst a special breed of Martial Artists as their art is a fully legit and battle tested Martial Art. So if you're training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, stay focused, keep training and keep moving towards that pivotal moment  because the rewards at the end are extremely worth it.

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