Bjj Belt Ranks
There are different types of belts to get when you train at a BJJ academy. There are two ways you can get a belt in BJJ:
By going to one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools in your country and submitting high-ranking students, you can get a belt by beating them in a fight.
BJJ companies pay a small fee to the BJJ schools to give out "open-system" (open-belt) belts. It's a way for the BJJ companies to test their students without having to deal with all the bureaucratic BS that comes with a full-belt or "black belt". This allows companies to see their students in action, but doesn't put any pressure on the students.
You can also get a non-weighted belt. There is an automatic weight on the belt that represents your gender, size, age, etc. This weight is based on your physical measurement and not on how well you train or compete.
Weighted belts are awarded when you win a BJJ match or when the instructor or sparring partner decides to rank you.
How to get a belt in BJJ
There are only a few ways to get a BJJ belt. The following is a list of the main ways to get a BJJ belt.
1. Going to a BJJ academy in your country
There are a lot of different academies that offer Brazilian jiujitsu. Some of them have black belts. Some have training belts. Some have a step-ladder (not sure what they are called). Some offer all of the above.
Not all companies offer black belts. Some even refuse to admit black belts, due to the "exclusivity" factor.
Find out what each company has to offer, then contact them and see if they have the opportunity to let you train there.
2. Issuing a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/Jiu Jitsu Association
There are different associations to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The most popular is the IBJJF
(Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation).
The IBJJF is a giant association with about 9,000 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructors in over 45 countries. The largest tournament of BJJ takes place every year in Las Vegas (BJJ World Championship). They have a system in place to train the young kids (10 to 14 years of age) and an even bigger tournament in Rio de Janeiro (Olympic Games).
One of the best BJJ schools in Montreal (Montreal BJJ) has its own affiliation with the IBJJF and offers special training cards for each belt (3rd degree black belt).
The next step down is the Judo Sport Association of America (JSAA), which is an affiliate of the International Judo Federation (IJF).
JSAA has a smaller organization and offers less black belts than the IBJJF, but is widely accepted in the Jiu Jitsu community.
Even more important than belt numbers is who the black belt is given to. I often see videos with 30+ year old black belts being trained with kids.
A more recent problem is the many new academy graduates who are given belts as an open-system (without having been trained in the system). You can easily find people on the internet sharing how they got black belts as an open-system (the belt isn't anything special and doesn't prove anything about your skill level, but the number doesn't really matter). The ones I can think of are:
Alex Lawrence (Biggest BJJ Muckdump on the internet)
Sikaber (Sikaber hates the IBJJF)
Bob Hazanecki (Bob Hazanecki created The Complete Guide to Winning More Jiu Jitsu Matches)
Darius Sibuna (Giant Black Belt who's not very good)
Jack Lamacchia (Jack Lamacchia is an OLD BLACK BELT. His last active rank is 8th degree).
If you read the comments for those videos, it's easy to see why these men got a BJJ black belt without putting in any training.
Another problem with this is that black belts are awarded to people who know next to nothing about BJJ, or worse, have never even competed.
With all of that said, if you want to train with a black belt at a top academy, it's not hard to do. As a matter of fact, I did it. I went to a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school and they let me train with a black belt (as long as I proved myself by training and competing).
To Get a Black Belt is Simple:
Go to the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation's website
. Look for the schools that belong to the IBJJF. Contact them and ask for a black belt. Make sure they are willing to give you a black belt to train.
Now, if you don't find a school near you, try to get a black belt with the IBJJF. It's the most prestigious in the industry.
Of course, if you can't find a school, then you can just ask for a belt. That's it! No need to compete in tournaments or get a black belt.
3. Work your way up the belt ladder
It's no secret that you will have to work hard to get a black belt. Many people are disappointed with the slow progress of black belts in comparison to their first degree. But, the long term benefits of working your way up the belt ladder will be worth it.
First, you get to build your skill level. Getting good at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helps you improve on all aspects of your game. You learn how to defend yourself. You learn how to set up attacks.