When I’m searching online or reading jiu jitsu forums or looking at anything bjj related on the internet, I always find this question. How long will it take me to get a blue belt in bjj? I’m going to attempt to answer that now. Actually, I can answer it pretty easily, but no one seems to like the “when your instructor thinks you are ready” response. So I’ll try to give you guys an answer that might be a little more satisfying. But before I do that, let me give you a little warning. Don’t become obsessed with chasing the belt, and don’t get into the backwards thinking that the belt colour actually means something. All that the belt denotes, is that you’ve reached a certain skill level. Don’t lose sight of your own jiu jitsu development just to try to impress your instructor so that he/she will promote you. I see this all the time. The guys that catch a nice sweep and then look around to see if the professor was watching, or the one who hints that he beat all of the other white belts in his division at the latest tournament. Stop it. You’re just embarrassing yourself. Just train, focus on getting better, and ignore the colour of your belt.
So here’s the deal. Most, if not all, bjj schools are not the belt factories that you see more commonly in karate and taekwondo etc. You won’t be promoted every month, or every two months or every six months like clockwork. In jiu jitsu your rank is earned on the mats, and you will only be promoted when your professor is certain that you consistently display the skills needed for a promotion. And not a day sooner. There are no “grading nights” where everyone is tested and promoted on the same day. A belt promotion does not cost you anything, so your promotion doesn’t depend on whether or not your “grading fee” was received. You will be given rank when you earn it through training and skill, no more and no less. That’s one of the things that I love about jiu jitsu. When you are handed that blue belt your professor will say “congratulations, you earned this” and not “congratulations, your cheque cleared”.
The reason this question is so hard to answer is because everyone will develop at different rates and some will take longer than others to reach the blue belt milestone. For example, when I started bjj I had already trained in japanese jiu jitsu for about 4 years, and so I was promoted to blue belt relatively quickly. So, depending on how you look at it, I only took me a few months… or it took me 4 and a half years.
There are some generally accepted time frames, and at my club it takes the average white belt about 3 or 4 months to get one stripe. Between 1 and 1.5 years they are usually promoted to blue belt. So, that’s the short answer.. if you want a blue belt, expect about 1 to 1.5 years of consistent training for that to become a reality.
If you’re going to join bjj to get a belt, don’t bother. Jiu jitsu isn’t about the belts. Frankly, if they didn’t hold our gis closed and there weren’t so many ways to sweep and choke people out with them, I’m sure most bjj players would get rid of them just because of the amount of trouble they cause. Who cares who gets promoted and when? Understandably, it feels great to get promoted and get that feedback from your instructors and peers, and have everyone congratulate you on your progress. But that shouldn’t be why you come to class. Take up bjj to learn self defense, or to stay in shape, or just because it’s so god damn fun.. but don’t take it up just so you can call yourself a blue belt.
But, for those of you who really, really, really want a cool belt, I’ll help you out. There’s a guy on eBay that will send you any belt you want (bleck belt included!) and he will send you a certificate along with it in case anyone challenges you on your kung fu skills. It’ll only cost you like 100 bucks. Hah, and those suckers are paying 100 bucks a month for 10 years to get a black belt from from a ‘professor’. Or you could find a karate school. If you look hard
enough, you’ll find one that will keep throwing you belts as long as you keep paying membership dues. Or, if all else fails just take your credit card number online and get one of these badass belts pictured on the right. Now, when you walk down the street, everyone will know you’re a blue belt!
So I hope I’ve answered this question thoroughly enough for most people. If you are reading this post and thinking about joining a jiu jitsu program, I say do it. Jiu jitsu has changed my life for the better in so many ways and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Jump in with both feet, get your hands dirty, have an open mind, and any other cliche motivational phrase you can think of. If you’re just a frustrated or curious white belt looking for some information, I say be patient. Enjoy jiu jitsu for the journey and not for the end game, and concentrate on developing your skill. If you keep training consistently and working on improving your game, you will be promoted, I promise you. It will be when you are ready and your instructor has seen you perform at a certain level. And when that moment comes it will feel great. Just remember, once the celebrating is done, forget about it until your instructor hands you your purple belt. Then you can celebrate again. And when will your professor give you your purple belt?
When you’re ready.