One of the first things that people ask when they come to jiu-jitsu for the first time is how much training it takes to go through the belts. The answer varies from school to school. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in bjjfanatics.com – jiu jitsu training is unusual compared to other martial arts in that there is not really a formal curriculum. While other arts have a clear path where you learn some moves, test, and then grade, few BJJ schools do that.
Grading in BJJ is more fluid and is based on a combination of mat time, performance against your teammates, a certain degree of knowledge of techniques (particularly from white to blue), and performance in competition if you choose to do this.
Some schools give stripes on belts as a marker of progress. Stripes are often attendance based, and you might expect to get one every three months or so as a white belt, but they will come less frequently for blue, purple and brown belts. Even schools that do stripes based on “number of lessons attended” for white belts will usually not do that for giving out belts, having far stricter promotion criteria for that.
It can take anything from 9 months to 3 years on “average” to get a blue belt (yes, that’s a wide range for average!) depending on how strict the school is and how often you train. If you train only once a week, then you will be on the slower end of ‘average’ unless you are naturally athletic or have previous experience from judo or wrestling. If you train more frequently, then there’s a good chance you will rank up more quickly.
Going from blue to purple takes a long time. The IBJJF has a recommended minimum of two years, but most people, especially those in clubs that compete a lot, spend longer than that at blue so that they can mature into the belt and do well in the competition. Now, the IBJJF is not a governing body, but if you want to compete at the higher levels it is a good idea to respect their time in grade guidelines.
Purple belt and brown belt tend to be gotten through more quickly than blue belt – perhaps because only people who are relatively serious about their training earn those belts.
More Mat Time Doesn’t Always Mean Faster Progress
One thing you should remember is that training more often doesn’t mean progressing faster all the time. Yes, if you can train two or three times a week you will progress far more quickly than someone who only trains once. However, there will come a time when that progress slows down. The more you train, the harder it will be to recover, and if you train when you are worn down then you are far more likely to end up getting injured.
Try to find balance in your training. Use your mat time well. Take notes after class. Drill as many reps as you can each session. That’s what will help you to progress.