What Do BJJ Stripes Mean? (Stripes on BJJ Belt)


Stripes on BJJ belt

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on grappling an opponent and using submission to retain them. Like other self-defense practices such as Judo and Taekwondo, BJJ uses a ranking system to represent a practitioner’s skill and knowledge levels. BJJ practitioners are divided into two groups — adult or youth — and each group has specific belt colors and stripes to represent the different levels.

BJJ stripes represent a BJJ practitioner’s skill, knowledge level, and progress on the belt rank. The more stripes the practitioner has, the closer they are to the next belt. For example, after four stripes on a white belt, you can move up to a blue belt, with each stripe taking about six months.

Simply put the stripes on a BJJ belt represent how advanced you are into your current belt. A BJJ professor has many students to keep up with and the stripes can help them to keep track of their student’s progress. 

Want to know more about the stripes on the BJJ belt? The rest of the article will discuss the meanings of the stripes on different BJJ belts for youth and adult practitioners.

BJJ Adult Belt System

There are eight different levels in BJJ for the adult category. The level colors are: white, blue, purple, brown, black (0-6), coral 7, coral 8, and red (9-10). Let’s dive in to explore what these colors mean in the BJJ ranking system.

White Belt

New BJJ students get a white belt when they are just getting started. At this level, instructors usually focus on escape and defense skills. Many schools will also focus very heavily on self-defense at white belt.  During training, white belts have to face more experienced belts to improve their skills.

When faced with danger, it is best to escape the threat whenever possible, which is where basic self-defense techniques come in handy. White belt BJJ students will train with basic self-defense maneuvers like controlling their opponent or escaping from a bad position. You will also learn some basic submissions and sweeps. 

Blue Belt

The blue belt is the second belt on the BJJ adult rank. After you receive 4 stripes on your white belt then you will likely test for your blue belt. Though some people might test or receive their blue belt with only 3 stripes. It really is up to your professor. 

When students get their blue belt (they must be at least 16 years of age), they spend hundreds of hours on the mat practicing various technical moves. According to the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), students train in their blue belt for at least two years before moving to the next level: the purple belt.

Purple Belt

Students proceed to the purple belt after the blue belt, the third level on the BJJ ranking system. When students reach this level, they should already have a broad knowledge of BJJ moves, making them qualified to teach students from lower levels.

Just like the blue belt, purple belt holders must be at least 16-years-old. The IBJJF requires purple belt students to spend at least 18 months in training before moving to the next level: the brown belt.

Brown Belt

The brown belt is near the top of the BJJ ranking system, just below the black belt. It usually takes a minimum of 6-9 years to reach brown belt in BJJ, along with plenty of hard training.  However, All brown belt holders must be 18-years-old, and they must dedicate at least 18 months to the purple belt level before reaching the brown belt.

Black Belt

After spending 1-3 years at the brown belt, students will usually get their black belt. Practitioners who have a black belt are considered experts in both technical and practical aspects of BJJ. Age-wise, black belt holders must at least be 19-years-old.

You will probably notice that your BJJ professor has stripes on their black belt. This represents the degrees of their black belt. Though they symbolize ranking, they are not the same as stripes on the lower belts. It takes much longer to get a degree on your black belt than a stripe on another belt. 

There are nine degrees of expertise that a black belt holder must practice. All black belt practitioners must train and teach for at least three years before moving on to the next rank. As practitioners progress in the different degrees of the black belt, they wear different types of red belts, which are:

  • Red/black belt (coral belt)
  • Red/white belt (coral belt)
  • Red belt

The red/black belt is what a practitioner receives upon reaching the 7th degree. At this level, they earn the ‘master’ title. Practitioners at this level must train and teach the black and red level for at least seven years before moving on to the next level.

Upon reaching the 8th degree of the black belt level, a practitioner qualifies for the red and white belt. Practitioners of this level must have teaching and training experience of at least ten years before progressing to the next rank. Teachers who have the red and white belt have obviously impacted the BJJ martial art.

The red belt is the 9th-degree black belt and is the highest rank on the BJJ ranking system. Practitioners who reach this level have a deep knowledge of BJJ and are called a “grandmaster.” 

The 10th degree does exist, but it is only for BJJ pioneers — Carlos Gracie, Gastão Gracie, Hélio Gracie, Oswaldo Gracie, Jorge (George) Gracie, and Luiz França Filho.

BJJ Youth Belt System

The BJJ youth category uses different belt colors than adults. After the white belt, kids between the ages of 4 and 15 can obtain belt colors, but they can only reach the blue belt when they are 16-years-old or older. Once you hit 16, you can move on to the adult belt levels.

The 13 youth color belts are as follow:

  • White
  • Gray-black
  • Yellow
  • Gray-white
  • Yellow-black
  • Gray
  • Yellow-white
  • Orange-black
  • Green
  • Orange-white
  • Green-black
  • Orange
  • Green-white

The gray belts are for students from the age of 4 to 15 years old. And yellow belts are for students aged 7 to 15 years old. Orange belts are for students between the age of 10 and 15 years old. And the green belts are for students from the age of 13 to 15 years old. A BJJ instructor ultimately decides when a student can move on to the next level.

What Do The Stripes On the BJJ Belt Mean

You may have noticed stripes on BJJ belts and wondered what they mean. The stripes are usually athletic tape that instructors wrap around their students’ BJJ belts, and they represent the BJJ practitioner’s knowledge, skill, and experience. 

Different schools have different criteria for the stripes they give to their students, and not all schools give out stripes. If you see stripes on a black belt, those are not called stripes; the stripes on a black belt are called degrees (up to six of them), and they reflect the black belt practitioner’s training and teaching time, which we’ve discussed earlier.

Are Stripes On Your BJJ Belt Important?

For white belt practitioners, stripes are helpful because they help them track their progress. When students see others earn their stripes, they want to know why and how the other students reached that level. Getting the first stripes means a lot if you’re only starting in BJJ.

Stripes also help a BJJ instructor to know each student’s level. Students can obtain up to four stripes on their white, blue, purple, and brown belts. In other words, the more stripes a student has, the closer they get to the BJJ ranking system’s next belt.

BJJ practitioners, however, shouldn’t focus too much on stripes. Sure, stripes are excellent as they act as a good reminder of the student’s BJJ progress — and can be uplifting when students obtain them — but stripes can also be demotivating because when a student hasn’t received their stripes while others already have.

How Long Does It Take To Receive a Strip On Your BJJ Belt

Some BJJ schools don’t give out stripes at all, but if they do, they can decide when to give a student a stripe — if the instructor thinks the student deserves a stripe, they will reward the student with a stripe. 

Generally, a white belt student can get a stripe every six months, but this heavily depends on the instructor (and they think the student deserves it). After obtaining all four stripes, the student can move on to the next belt, the blue belt. It typically takes about 1-3 years to get to blue belt in BJJ.

How To Earn BJJ Stripes

Earning the first stripe is a rewarding experience, and a student can only achieve their first stripe by working hard and training all of the skills and techniques that their instructors have taught them. If you’re working on getting your first stripe, you want to note everything you’ve learned, remember them, and implement them in your training. Your instructor will assess your knowledge of BJJ fundamentals.

You want to know the requirements for getting the stripe. Usually, instructors will assess the student’s mat time, class attendance, skill level, and knowledge. In some cases, the instructor will test the student before rewarding them.

If you’re not sure what requirements are necessary for you to level up, talk to your instructor about it, and they will let you know what positions they want you to practice, which can take several months. If you’ve waited long and have yet to receive your stripe, you may want to ask your instructor about it because sometimes instructors forget to reward their students — it happens.

Final Thoughts

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) uses a ranking system representing a practitioner’s skill and knowledge levels. There are two groups for BJJ: youth and adults. Both groups use different belt colors and stripes to indicate the various martial arts ranking system levels.

BJJ stripes represent a BJJ practitioner’s skill and knowledge level and their progress on the belt rank. When a practitioner has more stripes, that means they’re closer to the next belt. Not all BJJ schools give out stripes, and essentially, students don’t need to focus too much on obtaining stripes.

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