A student’s progress in martial arts is often recognized by the color of their belt. The colors of jiu jitsu belts are ranked from a beginner’s level white belt to the most elite and prestigious red belt. A unique factor in the jiu jitsu belt system is that it requires years of training and study before a practitioner is allowed to achieve a higher ranking. Unlike other marital arts, where a student may achieve a belt in a matter of months, to earn a belt in jiu jitsu, a student must study for years to prove that they have both the physical and mental capacity to progress to the next level.
According to the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, jiu jitsu belts are ranked in the order of white, blue, purple, brown, and black. White belts must study for one to two years and master a number of defensive techniques and escaping positions to obtain a blue belt. Blue belts must be at least 16 years of age and train for a minimum of two years and in some schools, three years, to progress to a purple belt. When students achieve the intermediate level of a purple belt, they are considered qualified to instruct other students.
Purple belts learn more offensive techniques and must become proficient in using their body’s momentum against their opponent’s attacks. Though the minimum length of time a student must train as a purple belt is a year and a half, it usually takes at least three years to accumulate the skills necessary to earn a brown belt. Brown belts are considered proficient enough to open their own academy.
A black belt is the highest common belt ranking in jiu jitsu. Students must be 19 years old and train as a brown belt for at least one year to achieve a black belt. The training is intense and may take up to ten years to attain their seventh degree level.
At this time, students may be granted a coral or black-and-red belt. Some schools may have students earn a white-and-red belt before reaching the final level of red belt. Red belts are reserved only for the select few, who in addition to their years of dedication, have had an extremely positive impact on the art of jiu jitsu.
The jiu jitsu martial art system has strict regulations and practitioners may have the same belt for years. Therefore, belts for jiu jitsu must be durable, comfortable, and able to retain their color. Belts are usually made of a thick 100% cotton material, which provides resiliency and flexibility. Because achieving a rank in jiu jitsu is such a challenging procedure, students should have the highest quality belt to accompany their uniform.