Update: This article seems drawn fire on Reddit… Apparently I’m an arrogant person who does not understand BJJ. I should not give my opinion because I’m not a black belt and my English is not good enough…

Update 2: I send this post to 5 black belt teachers I train with. And surprise, no one saying anything bad about this post. There mostly agree with it and give me feedback about the way they think about it. No one of them insulted me or tell me that my English is so bad, or as a blue belt I have to shut up or that I have not understood what BJJ is ;). Their conclusion is, everyone is different. At the end, this post created discussion, even the one where I get insulted, but you know what, better have discussion that no discussion at all ^^, I prefer keep the positive of this and yes I continue to publish article about BJJ with my blue belt point of view and my bad English, YAY!

Ok so just for a quick reminder of the belt system in BJJ for those who don’t know it. You start as a white belt and level up to blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and finally black belt.

I read a lot of posts online asking “what’s wrong with the BJJ belt system”? I see this purple belt beating this brown or black belt and so on. So what? You really think it’s the fault of our belt system if that happen? Well, first let take a look of what you are supposed to know with each belt:

White belt (year 0)

Ok, so basically you know nothing and you try to survive. Your goal is to create a frame of reference for your future learning. And yes, you going to tap, every days ;). You need to learn the basic body form and the basic techniques. You can check my posts about it:

Blue belt (year 2/4)

Now “normally” you know how to defend, attack and escape all the basic techniques and no white belt can pass your guard or tap you (except maybe the 100kg dude of course). Your game is basic but solid, it’s time to learn the “expanded” technique and explore and discover what is your game. If you are a passador or a guardero.

Purple belt (year 2/4)

You finally find your game and now you focus on the development of it. Movements should be your primary focus, refine your technique using the less moves possible. You know every guard and you are effective on every position.

Brown belt (year 3/4)

You make it so far, almost a master in the art. You know all the aspect of BJJ and it’s now time to focus on the technics you are not good at it and work on it again and again.

Black belt (year 3/4)

Congrats, it’s probably the hardest achievement you going to get in your life! Now your BJJ journey just begin. At this level, no other belt can beat you except a good brown belt close to the graduation.

Now back to the belt system and why I title my post “Is the BJJ belt system wrong?“.

Our belt system is good. It’s supposedly based on the judgment of a black belt which training for at list 10 years, plus your ability to tap lower belt and win competitions. And that why our system is good. Because it’s normally a mix between the judgment of another human (subjective) and your ability to win in competition or in your gym (objective).

So, it’s quite simple in fact. If you are a white belt taping every other white belt plus some blue belt then you are (objectively) a blue belt. And to this, you add the black belt judgment because maybe you are not ready,(subjectively) too arrogant, masters only one technique or I don’t know what.

  • tap + win + professor = graduation
  • get tap + loose + professor = no graduation

So when you see a brown belt get taped by a blue belt or a white belt taping purple belt, the problem here is not our ranking system, is our, we are the problems. Mc Dojo’s are the problem, not objective professors* are the problem, arrogant students are the problem, etc.. So stop killing the BJJ belt system.


The belt only keep your gi closed. Seriously

(*) You can’t refuse a promotion. BJJ is a martial art! If your professor decide to give you a belt and you feel not ready.. Well, work harder ;).