How to get your BJJ Blue Belt - Australian Combat Sports Academy

How to get your BJJ Blue Belt

One common problem for new Brazilian JiuJitsu students is understanding how to get promoted to the next belt.

Asking what you need to do is frowned upon and the usual advice is ‘Just keep training and don’t worry about the belts’ or ‘You’ll get the belt when you’re ready for it’.

This isn’t useful advice. The belts are there for a reason. If they aren’t important then why bother having them at all?

The main purpose for belts in BJJ is as a general indicator of skill level. A blue belt should have a higher level of BJJ skill than a white belt and a purple belt should have a higher skill level than a blue belt. The skill will be acquired through consistent and effective training and the belts serve as a motivator to keep training consistently and as an indicator of your progress and a goal to aim for.

It’s difficult for BJJ students to know exactly what they have to do. In other styles, there are agreed upon grading criteria which are decided on by a centralized federation. Karate has specific techniques and Katas are required to progress to each belt level, Judo also usually has specific techniques for each belt and the student will also need to accumulate points from competition to progress.

This doesn’t tend to happen in BJJ. Each affiliation, club, and instructor has their unique criteria to progress to the next belt, and more often than not the student has no idea what these criteria are. While I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, it can get very confusing for the white belt who just wants to know what they need to do to progress and eventually one day get a black belt.

Here is what I believe are the keys for White Belts to get Graded to Blue Belt which is often the most difficult rank. Usually, your chances of getting graded will be based on a combination of the following factors:

Technical requirements

Not every academy will have a list of specific technique requirements but there will usually be a general outline of techniques & skills you should be able to perform well by the time you get to Blue belt.

You need to be able to perform a few takedowns & guard passes consistently in training, you need to know a few submissions & sweeps that you can hit consistently from several positions, and you need to retain your guard and be able to escape from the most common pin positions against sparring partners with similar skill levels. These elements will give you the basis for developing a well-rounded game that will serve you well as you progress up through the ranks to higher belts.

Competition Results

Many clubs don’t focus on competition and don’t see it as an important requirement for Grading. I encourage all my students to compete whenever they can.

My job as an instructor is to help my students improve as much as possible. I’ve been involved in martial arts for over 30 years and in my experience the people who compete improve more quickly.

BJJ is a relatively safe sport without the danger of concussion or other injuries that can happen with other combat sports. I see no reason for the students not to jump in and compete whenever they can if they want to improve.

Competition is also a useful indicator of skill level and a good sign that you’re ready to get promoted. If you are regularly winning your divisions at white belt level then it’s time to get promoted to blue belt. There’s no point in ‘sandbagging’ and continuously turning up to beat white belts at competition if you’ve already been training for ten years.

Attendance

Some martial arts academies grade solely on attendance. After attending a certain number of classes for some time, you will receive your next belt. While I’m not a fan of this, I think it is important to emphasize the importance of attendance.

If you don’t train consistently then you won’t improve. It also sets a bad example for other students in the class. If a student doesn’t train in my classes at least two or three times a week, I won’t give them a belt promotion.

Being a good training partner and a good fit for the academy

This is probably one of the least understood parts of grading criteria. In addition to being technically proficient, getting good competition results, and attending classes regularly, the student must also be a good fit for the team.

If the student trains dangerously regularly injuring his training partners then there’s a good chance the coach won’t want him to stick around and will either kick him out or just hold back on promoting him hoping that he’ll eventually get the hint and settle down.

Every BJJ gym has a unique mat culture. Some are strict and more focused on a traditional martial arts atmosphere, and some are more laid back and easygoing where students can just turn up whenever suits them and take rounds off from rolling if they don’t feel like it. The students will inevitably gravitate to the culture that suits them.

A BJJ coach is unlikely to promote a student who they feel isn’t a good fit for the culture of his team. If the student is too lazy or unwilling to put in the work required then it would set a bad example to the other students to promote them and so the student must decide if they are going to do what is required or find another gym with a culture that better suits them.

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