A belt system in martial arts is used to show which students have trained longer and have more skill when compared to other students.
The main idea behind being awarded belts is to give students a physical represenation of how they are progressing.
The belt ranking system is a Western concept, although there are some myths about early martial artists starting with a white belt that they didn't wash, one reason why the belts tend to get darker as you progress.
Many, if not all, academies will have a set list of techniques for the student to learn to progress in the art of Jujitsu.
This list is usually broken down into belt categories, so a student has a clear guide of what is expected each time they wish to be promoted to the next belt.
When the instructor and the student feel they are ready to test themselves to be promoted to the next belt, they will take part in a grading.
Usually this consists of demonstrating that the student is competent in applying the techniques from the syllabus for the belt they are trying to achieve.
We have some pictures of traditional Jujitsu gradings here.
The belt ranking system in traditional Jujitsu is quite common across many other martial art styles. The belts colours are given below:
An adult student in Jujitsu should aim to grade for their next belt approximately every 3 months upto around the green belt level. After that the gradings may be spaced out more since the techniques get more complicated and demanding on the student. The time taken between the brown and black belt may be as much as 2 years, depending on the academy.
For a junior syllabus, an academy may also award 'tags' to each belt. This is to ensure the younger students don't get bored if they don't see themselves advancing. A tag may be given for demonstrating just 3 techniques from the syllabus for the belt they are aiming for, hence giving the younger student a clear sign that they are progressing every couple of weeks.
The adult belt system for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is as follows:
At first sight, it may appear that you progress much quicker in BJJ, but this isn't the case.
The time taken to get a blue belt in BJJ can be as long as 3 years! This is one reason a few people get bored and quit before getting their blue belt. However, in many cases, a BJJ student has already trained in another style, so they're used to the belt system, and have got the confidence from another art, and now aren't too bothered about getting belts to show how they good they are.
Just like in traditional Jujitsu, many BJJ schools try to ensure that younger students don't get bored (well 3 years is a very long time to get your first belt!), other coloured belts are introduced for under-16s, these generally take the following form (note, there is usually no advancement to blue belt as a junior):
The time taken between belts in BJJ obviously depends on where you train, and who you train with. Attending the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy everyday of the week for 3 hour sessions with private sessions with Rorion Gracie would obviously get you to black belt level a lot quicker than training at home with a few instructional videos.
It has been said by many, that to get your black belt in BJJ should take approximately 16 years, now that's a long time by anyones standards!
BJJ differs quite a lot in how belts are awarded to students.
There is no set syllabus for the techniques you should know in order to get your blue (or any other) belt. Instead, students are promoted after showing they can deal with various situations, can keep calm and relaxed, and show that they understand what they're trying to do.
Many of the team who built this website were awarded their blue belts from Royce Gracie during a seminar. Royce would quite literally whistle as he was rolling with students to make clear the point that you should stay relaxed and concentrate on using pure technique and not strength.