There are many different martial arts styles, but in each discipline, the black belt represents expertise. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stands out as one of the martial arts disciplines with the most rigorous belt ranking system. So where did this belt system come from, and what does it all mean?
Originally, there were white belts and black belts. The white belt represented the beginner and symbolized purity and simplicity. The black belt represented one who is filled with knowledge.
The first official belt ranking system was created in 1967, and the current criteria for belt ranks are governed primarily by the Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) and International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
The white belt is the first belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many instructors believe that a white belt's training should emphasize escapes and defensive techniques, while incorporating some basic offensive moves.
Blue belt is the second adult rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is often the level where students learn a large number of different techniques. The IBJJF requires that a practitioner be at least 16 years old to receive a blue belt.
Practitioners that reach purple belt have gained a large amount of knowledge and technique. Purple belt is the stage where a practitioner begins to search for the game that works best for them.
IBJJF requires that students be at least 18 years old, and they recommend that students have been a purple belt for at least 18 months before advancing to the level of brown belt. This is a time when the practitioner has developed strategies to compliment their technical knowledge.
As with most martial arts, black belt is the highest common belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The black belt indicates that the practitioner is an expert in the art. However, any black belt will tell you that the learning doesn't stop here. Experts in BJJ can all agree, the journey never ends.