What Does it Take to Get a Blue Belt in BJJ?

The BJJ Blue belt is a major milestone for an any Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. It rewards time spent training and learning and is confirmation that you are no longer a novice. At blue belt level you will not have mastered every technique. However you should have a good understanding of the main concepts and positions.

The blue belt is often thought to be the hardest belt to earn and the amount of time it takes to earn it varies from academy to academy. The

Technical Knowledge

The most universal BJJ Blue belt requirement is to be able to demonstrate sufficient technical knowledge. The definition of sufficient in this instance is subjective and can vary greatly. Each academy has their own guidelines and each instructor within that academy may have their own set of requirements. The following is a general list of some of the main technical requirements that an instructor may be looking out for when deciding who to promote to blue belt:

  • Perform Basic Movements: Elbow escape, forward elbow escape, forward rolls, back rolls, sprawl, technical stand up, bridge, hip heist, upa. butt scoot.
  • Transitions: Know and perform basic transitions. Side mount to mount, side mount to knee on belly, mount to back mount, side mount to back mount.
  • Guard Passes: A white belt performing an exam for blue generally has to show the ability to do 2-3 guard passes.e.g knee slice or smash pass
  • Submissions From Guard: At least 3 submissions. Armbars, kimura, triangle, omoplata, etc.
  • Submissions From Mount: 1-2 Submissions from the mount position. Armbar, arm triangle, cross choke(gi), keylock, Ezekiel choke(gi), etc.
  • Submissions From Back Mount: 1-2 submissions from the back mount submission. Rear Naked choke, lapel choke, arm bar, bow & arrow choke etc.
  • Sweeps From Guard: 2-3 different sweeps from guard. Scissor sweep, hip bump sweep, butterfly sweep, flower sweep, etc.
  • Takedowns: Execute a proper type of single leg and double leg takedown.
  • Throws: 2-3 judo techniques. Osoto Gari, Uchi Mata, Drop Seoi Nage, etc.
  • Self Defense Moves: Proper break falls, defense from being grabbed(from front and back), defend a punch/kick, and grip breaks.
  • Half Guard Techniques: Perform a certain number of half guard passes from the top position and sweeps from bottom half guard. Also know how to execute submissions from this position, as well.
  • Submission Defense: Show that you can defend submissions such as an armbar, RNC, guillotine, or kimura. Your average blue belt will know defenses against these positions.
  • Position Escapes: Show that you can escape from mount, back mount, side control, and knee on belly. You will probably need to know more than one of each type of escape.
  • Explain Positions: In certain gyms you may be asked to explain the basic concepts of certain positions, rules, and why moves certain positions are done. For example, why should you not put your hands on the mat while in someone’s guard?

This is just an example and not an actual guideline for how someone earns a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu. In order to get a blue belt you do not need to have mastered each of the techniques above. However you should be familiar with most of them and be able to reasonably perform them if necessary. 

Time Spent Training

The IBJJF does not have a defined minimum amount of time spent training to be promoted to blue belt. However some academies have their own perquisites in terms of time. Academies like Alliance or Gracie Barra have their own blue belt requirements for promotion at each belt level. Some academies believe the average to obtain a blue belt is around 10-16 months, but time will vary between each student and how an academy operates.

Many Jiu Jitsu academies have an average number of classes that you need to attend before being considered for a blue belt. Certain academies award stripes to white belt students after every 25-30 classes that they attend. You are awarded a blue belt generally after you receive four stripes on your belt. For the average hobbyist student this may mean around 100-125 classes attended before receiving a blue belt. Again, you are not guaranteed a blue belt just for hitting a certain number of classes, but it still good to regularly attend to keep a good pace for your continued progression.

Jon Jones receiving his blue belt in 2017

Other Factors

There are a number of other factors that could affect the length of how long it takes a Jiu Jitsu student to get their blue belt besides demonstrating technical knowledge and attendance. For example many new students have prior grappling experience that helps them to progress faster. Here are some of the other main factors that can speed up the promotion to blue belt process.

  • Prior Grappling Experience: Having prior experience in a different form of grappling can definitely advance your progression to blue belt. For example, if you’re a college wrestler, then you already have a good understanding of grips, base, a number of other important BJJ concepts. Also someone that trains no gi or MMA may already be at a blue belt level or higher but needs to put time in training in the Gi before getting promoted.
  • Active Competitor: Competing regularly at Jiu Jitsu competitions and being successful at them may get you to a blue belt quicker. Coaches love to see their students competing and representing their team and may use it as a criteria for promotion. If you are regularly winning matches and medals at your belt level it is a clear signal that you may be ready for promotion.
  • Attitude: In Jiu Jitsu, there is a code of conduct that all students need to follow. Being a good teammate that is patient and respectful is probably the most important lesson a Jiu Jitsu student needs to learn. If they have a bad attitude and aren’t being a good teammate, then that will definitely have a negative impact on their progression and delay their graduation to blue belt.

The Shark Tank

On grading day at the academy there are many different ways that an instructor can use to test the students abilities. One popular method is the shark thank. A shark tank is where one or more students are nominated to display their skill through sparring . During this time they roll with numerous opponents until submission without getting a break. each new opponent comes in fresh as the person getting shark tanked gets tirIt can be a gruelling experience for many as they struggle to keep their technique as each new fresh opponent begins attacking them. The exact length of time that the shark tank lasts is usually at the discretion of the instructor.

The shark tank is good way to examine a student’s overall ability while. It is also a test of a students heart in the face of adversity. Keeping going despite being exhausted and outmatched is a trait that any good coach will respect . A student that quits during a shark tank may be perceived to be not ready for promotion.

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