Similar to learning anything new, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not easy and takes a lot of time and effort to advance in. It takes time to learn and master all the techniques of each belt and degree, and many factors can speed up or slow down each student’s progress. With enough grit and determination, you can one day earn the ultimate prize of a black belt, but it takes time to get there.
The average time that it takes a student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to get a black belt is around 10 years. It depends a lot on the individual evolution of the student and how quickly they can learn and master the various techniques involved in each level of the process.
Read further to learn more about what these factors are and you could maybe use them to your advantage and get your black belt a little sooner than that.
How long does it take to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
I’ve been practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for about 23 years, and have been a black belt for 10 years, so I have extensive experience in this subject. According to the IBJJF / CBJJ (Brazilian / International Jiu-Jitsu Federation), the time required to get a Black Belt is 5 and a half years. However, there are several factors to be considered during this process like:
- Student’s level of progress
- Student’s adaptation
- Speed of learning the techniques
- Results in internal and official competitions
- Attendance in classes.
There are those, however, who get a black belt in a much shorter time but would be exceptions to the rule. Those are exceptionally talented athletes who would be able to learn the techniques very quickly and who would most likely stand out in other individual sports as well, maybe even able to reach a level to compete on an Olympic level.
But in 99% of the cases, like in mine, the average time to get a black belt, is around 10 years, sometimes a little longer. As I mentioned before, it depends a lot on the individual evolution of the student and how quickly they can learn and master the various techniques involved in each level.
Why does it take so long to get a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt?
The time to get a black belt is long, and the process is not that simple; it is a long walk. The assimilation of techniques, along with heavy training, also makes the learning process very difficult.
The coach also contributes a lot to a student’s evolution and development in the process. The coach must have extensive experience in teaching this art, as BJJ techniques are not easy to be assimilated. A wrong start can damage all of your learning, and it will form a bad foundation.
A good foundation is essential for your jiu-jitsu journey and will significantly enhance your chances of getting a black belt faster. For example, it took me about a year and a half to understand and see all the fluidity and connection of the techniques that were taught to me.
It simply takes time to learn all the techniques and how to use them correctly, and this is the main reason why a lot of beginners quit, unfortunately, because they think they will learn and master the techniques quickly. This is not reality!
How fast can you get a BJJ black belt?
Nowadays, many factors can contribute to getting a black belt in less time. However, 23 years ago, for example, when I started practicing jiu-jitsu, there were very few gyms, colored belts, and even black belts were rare.
There was only a small portion of jiu-jitsu fighters with black belts, and thus my personal evolution in the sport was much slower. Competitions were also very rare, especially in my city. If any student wanted to compete at a high level, he had to travel to another state, like Rio de Janeiro, for example, considered by many to be the home of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil.
Currently, in any BJJ academy around the world, the number of students with colored bands (blue, purple, brown) and black belts is remarkable. The time it takes to get the belts are also very fast compared to the time when I started.
Access to information is also much better than it was 23 years ago. There are many resources related to BJJ on the internet today, especially videos on Youtube, applications, E-books, and many things that all contribute to the individual and the collective evolution of the sport and help students learn more, faster.
Is it hard to get a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
It is challenging to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu. It is, however, an incredible personal achievement for those few who do not give up early and go on to achieve it.
Daily training is very difficult; most of the time, quite repetitive and exhausting. There’s also the difficulty in assimilating the techniques, the endless repetitions of drills, the specific training, and the constant pressure from coaches and the other students, not to mention the injuries that will accompany you constantly throughout your journey. These are only a few of the obstacles to overcome as a student.
When we talk about competitions, it gets even more complicated, because a student has to always face his biggest opponent, which is himself. This is the whole process/obstacle that a student has to go through throughout their journey in BJJ.
When this barrier is broken, you will enter a path of no return. This is one of the great joys of BJJ.
“He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.” – Lao Tzu
How long does it take to get other belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
As in most martial arts, a beginner starts with a white belt. In each belt, the student will receive degrees (stripes) to level up and eventually move to a new belt. Each belt has 4 degrees (stripes), and the process is the same up to the brown belt, which precedes the black belt.
A student can acquire a new degree (stripe) in a period of 3 months, sometimes less or more, depending on a variety of factors like:
- Technical ability of the student
- Results from competitions
- Attendance in the classes
- Respect for the teacher, the dojo, and for other students
This is, however, up to the policy of each teacher and academy.
From the beginning of the white belt to the blue belt (which is the second belt), the average time is around 2 years. From the blue belt to the purple belt (which is the third belt), the average time is 1 and a half years. And from the purple belt to the brown belt (which precedes the black belt), 1 and a half more years are needed.
|White – Blue||4||2 years|
|Blue – Purple||4||2 years|
|Purple – Brown||4||1 and a half years|
|Brown – Black||4||1 year|
Remember that in each belt, a student needs to earn 4 stripes and that the average time for these belts is much longer in reality, adding up to 10 years or longer to reach the black belt level.
These are the rules for students over 18. For children and teenagers, the rules are different. As I mentioned earlier, these are the rules, according to the IBJJF/CBJJ (Brazilian/International Federation of Jiu-Jitsu). The individual assessment of a student is monitored by the teacher daily, and it is he who will determine when the student will get a new stripe or new belt.
The individual journey in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not easy, but it is also not complicated. For example, it took me 11 years to get a black belt out of the 23 years I have dedicated to the sport, in which I currently work and support my family.
Willpower and determination are essential tools during this process. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is one of, if not the best pedagogical tool I know. Jiu-jitsu is an art that unites people and does not see religion, sex, race, or social class. On the mat, everyone is equal. It’s a handshake and a fight, as they say in the world of BJJ: Slap, fist bump, and roll.
Once in this sport, a student will start to be part of a large family and not just a gym/club. Be sure that when you register for a gym and wear a kimono for the first time, your life will change completely. It’s truly a journey with no return.
The people I trained with who gave up on the way regretted it and soon returned. Others who gave up early started again. As Woody Allen would say: “90% of success in life is showing up.” This is an experience that I like to share with friends and students and remember, fall once, but get up 1000 times.