So…what should a new student know about the belts?

Larry Shealy // Uncategorized


August 4  

The Hendo BJJ- Kid-Jitsu® Belt System

Belts in BJJ are not like some of the Taekwondo or Karate programs out there, as you will never see a child in a black belt, The highest belt in the Kids System of the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Foundation) is the Green Black Belt.

In the adult BJJ system there are 8 belts: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, Black, Coral, Red-White and Red (Red is Grandmasters).  It takes approximately eight to ten years to attain the black belt, which is mastery in it’s own right. There is a large degree of of subjectivity in the length of times to reach the black belt, depending on the Instructor. For example: One must be at least 16 years of age to receive the blue belt. (see above) The belts are earned on the mat and are not given or sold. 

In Kid-Jitsu® we use 13 belts, with 4 stripes on each belt of the IBJJF belting system. We feel that if we can keep a child’s interest, consistency, proficiency that they move thorough the program in  4-6 years.  I personally require the children to be at least 6 years old the begin the program.

IBJJF Children’s Belt Colors  IBJJF Adult Belt Colors
White  White
Grey-White Blue
Grey   Purple  
Grey-Black  Brown
Yellow-White  Black
Yellow  Coral
Yellow-Black Red-White
Orange-White Red
Orange Black

The Green-Black belt is the highest belt in the BJJ system for kids. The kids can then test for the adult Blue Belt at 16 years old (see ages/#years in belt grid above). I have many kids mature at about 14 and wear their kids belts into my adult classes and test for their blue at 16…………and buddy, if they went through the kids program, through the Green-Black Belt…..they are going to be one very tough blue belt, from the get-go!

As we have an ongoing and rotating curriculum, our testing has a piece of objectivity with the techniques they are proficient at during testing, and subjectivity with how the student is progressing. Let’s talk about the belts.

I try to test the children about every 4-6 months. The students need to attend a minimum of 2 classes each week, on the average to be able to test for their next belt. Stripes are given that represent time on the mats, as well as proficiency and citizenship on and off of the mat.

To get a feel for what we look for in the belt testing, and for someone to wear their belt, this is what I look for:

White: The white belt is a brand new student. I expect them to learn the UPA mount escape, a guard pass, a sweep, some submissions, wrist grab escapes…… and I’d let them test for the next belt. This is the easiest belt of all to attain, as I do want them to know some basic fundamentals, but also show them the reward of a new belt. They have earned it.

Grey-White: Grey-White they should be getting more information on board and are able to pass the guard, roll some with some upper levels, and begin to put the pieces together. (Guard Pass, Side Control, Mount, Back Mount)
Grey: Grey belt; they are rolling fairly well, adding more techniques and helping some of the newer members with upa and basic positions
Grey Black: Grey Black should begin to become very good with sweeps and is hitting some submissions in sparring…game is beginning to come together
Yellow-White: This is where I begin identifying my leaders, and begin showing them more of the advanced techniques as the class is split by belts. Example: Armbar to Triangle to Omomplata set=ups…..they are “seeing” their game develop and understand the BJJ big picture.
Yellow: Leaders who have put it together but still rough at the edges. Needs work on the nuances of grips, dealing with larger people, and understanding the self defense end of jii=jitsu
Yellow-Black: we are adding more techniques and pushing them more to perfect technique. Their armbar must be superb, their sweeps crisp, their submissions clean, without using strength or force
Orange White: more of the same, better set ups, working from bad positions
Orange: very close, just polishing the edges
Orange Black: should be able to go into the adult class and hold their own with all white belts and a lot of blue belts. The should be able to see-do=and teach every technique in the curriculum to somebody in the adult class.

Green White: 

The 3 green belts are Leadership Belts. Depending on age, these belts is where we are preparing the children to teach, assist in class, and get ready for a transition to the adult classes
Green Back

AS I said there is some subjectivity. For example: if a child has any sort of handicap (for lack of a better word), we give them the benefit of the doubt and with promote them with time being the factor. If a child is extremely athletic, we are going to hold them to a high standard.

The techniques are the techniques and everybody needs to know them thoroughly and be able to articulate them to us, as well as perform them in a crisis situation or in sparring. If you see a BJJ belt on a child in our curriculum, you can bet that they have earned the belt, on the mat, with a lot of ‘mat time’ under their belt.

We will NEVER give a kid a higher belt than Green-Black in the kids curriculum. There is no such thing as a kids black belt in BJJ. It’s takes adults upwards of 10 years to attain a legitimate black belt, to give a kids a black belt, would be completely disrespectful to the sport and all the people who came before us.

One thing too about the BJJ is this… works. I would put my kids with a year experience in a street situation, and with little doubt, I know they can hold their own in a bully situation. They may not win a fight, and they certainly with not start one… but they know enough to gain position and control of the situation and not take any damage. To me, they didn’t lose, so they win.

I recommend you let your kids try the program. We are not flashy, we are just effective. We are not bullying folks and we certainly are not going to be bullied.

There is just a certain confidence when you know something………and others pick up on this confidence. Give your child the gift of this confidence by allowing them to train in our Kid-Jitsu® Program. You will be glad that you did.

Good Training,

Prof. Larry Shealy

“Train Hard, Train Smart…Train for LIFE!” 

PS: next time I will further explain the adult belts

About the Author

Training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu since 1994. 4th-Degree Rigan Machado Black Belt Instructor. Christian, Husband, Father, Grateful Small Business Owner.

Larry Shealy