The belt system in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), is very similar to judo. But, quite different from other martial arts. Today, I will explain how long it takes to the third belt in BJJ, a purple belt.
On average, it takes 5 years or more to get a purple belt. If students train more they can get awarded a purple belt sooner. But, if they train less frequently it can take longer. A purple belt is the 2nd to last belt before a black belt, and a purple belt has a very high level of skill in jiu-jitsu.
There are two primary ways of being awarded a purple belt in BJJ. Below, I will explain what it takes to get a purple belt in BJJ, and how a purple belt compares to the other belts in BJJ.
How Hard Is It To Get a Purple Belt in BJJ
Various martial arts are more difficult than others. It also generally takes a long time to go from a white belt to a black belt in any martial arts. Here’s the rundown on how hard it is to get a purple belt in BJJ.
Overall, it’s not hard to get a purple belt in BJJ. But, it does require a person to train consistently for a very long time (5 years). Sparring is very physically and mentally difficult. But, a person gets used to it after doing it many times on their way to getting awarded a purple belt.
For a person to go from blue belt to purple belt they need to do competitive sparring. Which is called ‘rolling’. Rolling involves two people trying to apply submission holds to each other. Such as chokes and joint locks. It also involves attempting to advance your position. Once, a person gives up by ‘tapping’, the roll starts again from the beginning.
How good a purple belt is compared to the other BJJ belts
Typically, if a purple belt tries to win, they will easily submit a white belt or blue belt over and over again, in a typical 5-minute ‘roll’. Against other purple belts, they will be fairly evenly matched. But, a brown belt is a significant step up. A brown belt is only 1 or 2 years away from a black belt.
A brown belt is typically competitive with black belts. But, a purple belt generally won’t win against a black belt. Experienced BJJ practitioners state that:
‘The sign that someone is a purple belt, is that if you (a black belt) let them get deep on a submission they will finish you.’
– Ryan Young – Kama Jiu-Jitsu
Here’s a really good video from Kama Jiu-Jitsu where they explain each of the belts, how they’re awarded, and how long it takes to go from one belt to the next:
In jiu-jitsu, a submission happens in steps. First, they need to get to an advantageous position, then they need to secure the submission, then they need to apply the submission. Typically, a black belt is trying they will get into an advantageous position immediately once the roll starts.
Then they will apply a submission. But, if they give their opponent, in this case, a purple belt an advantageous position, and let them secure the step before applying a submission, then typically a purple belt can finish from there.
In general, a purple belt will easily be able to defeat a white belt and a blue belt. But, if a blue belt is very experienced – has a lot of stripes, or has been a blue belt for a long time, a purple belt will find it more difficult to submit them.
How a purple belt is awarded
There are stripes that some instructors award. In general, there are 4 stripes total before the next belt is awarded. For example, a blue belt will get 4 white stripes on their belt. Their next belt promotion will be a purple belt.
There are two broad systems of belt promotion. The first are awarded by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). The other is generally a bit more open-ended. The IBJJF has a formalized system of belt promotion, that requires a minimum amount of years of training. Before it can be awarded.
A purple belt is only awarded by a black belt. A black belt takes on average 10 years to get. During this time a black belt will have rolled many thousands of times. Because of this experience they can easily tell how good someone is.
Doing a bit of rolling with a blue belt or a black belt can easily tell how good they are, and if they deserve to be promoted to a purple belt.
How Good Is a Purple Belt in BJJ
The belt color rankings in jiu-jitsu are slightly vague. So, it’s difficult to know how good one belt is compared to another. So, how good is a purple belt in BJJ?
In general, a purple belt is a 6 out of 10 at jiu-jitsu. They can easily defeat most blue belts. They can also easily defeat white belts. They can also easily defeat an untrained person if the fight goes to the ground.
However, very experienced martial artists will tell you it’s always better to avoid a fight where possible. In a real fighter, there can be multiple attackers. And if the fight goes to the ground, it leaves both people susceptible to very damaging strikes. I explained this in more detail in this article about whether MMA works in a street fight.
Can a Purple Belt Promote
A purple belt is very experienced in jiu-jitsu. They have a thorough understanding of virtually all of the techniques in jiu-jitsu. Because it takes such a long time to get a purple belt you may be curious if a purple belt can promote lower belts, here’s what I found.
In general, a purple belt can not promote. A purple belt can be qualified to teach provided they have undergone an instructor’s program. But, only black belts can promote students with a stripe, or to a higher belt.
All modern-day jiu-jitsu taught in English-speaking countries comes from Mitsuyo Maeda, who taught Carlos Gracie in Brazil, who taught Helio Gracie. It was taught in the USA and internationally by Carlos and Helio Gracie’s sons, and the people they taught. The only way to learn it was from them, and they were all black belts at the time they began teaching.
There is no written rule that says only black belts can promote. But, it’s generally accepted that only black belts can award stripes and belts.