How Long Does It Take To Get A Brown Belt In BJJ? (Solved!)


Each martial art has a different belt system with different colors and different requirements to advance from one belt to the next. I’ve been training and learning about Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) for a few years now and thought I’d explain how long it takes to get a brown belt in BJJ.

It takes on average 6 to 11 years of consistent training to get a brown belt in BJJ. It takes on average 1 to 2 years to go from white belt to blue belt, then a blue belt needs to have been a blue belt for 2 to 4 years, and then 3 to 5 years as a purple belt to get promoted to a brown belt. 

At the end of the day, exactly when a purple belt gets promoted to a brown belt is up to the discretion of the instructor.

So, how long or how short it takes can vary but there are some guidelines that have been given by the founders of BJJ about when a person should be promoted from purple to brown.

Today, I’ll explain the different requirements of time, and proficiency, what a brown belt in BJJ should know, as well as, how good a brown belt is.

How long to get a brown belt in BJJ

How Fast Can You Get a Brown Belt in BJJ

There are two primary lineages in BJJ. And both have different requirements for how long it takes to get a brown belt. 

Under the Helio Gracie BJJ ranking system, professors of the art such as black belt Ryan Young say it takes on average 3 to 6 years to get awarded a brown belt.

Under the Carlos Gracie BJJ system, which is the other main branch of BJJ, it takes a minimum of 5.5 years to get awarded a brown belt.

All BJJ school instructors come from a student of Helio Gracie or Carlos Gracie as they are the founders of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Carlos Gracie was taught by a talented jiu-jitsu practitioner who came to Brazil in the early 1900s. Helio Gracie was his brother and learned it by watching lessons.

However, he had a medical condition at an early age, and doctors recommended he didn’t participate in sports. 

Much later in life he fixed his medical condition and competed in many matches. Here are two tables that show how long it takes to get a brown belt based on the two different branches of BJJ.

Helio Gracie belt ranking system timeframes

Belt colorTime at this belt on averageCumulative time until next belt
White1 to 2 years1 to 2 years
Blue2 to 4 years3 to 6 years
Purple3 to 5 years6 to 11 years
Brown2 to 3 years8 to 14 years
Black (1 to 6 stripes)12 years20 to 26 years
Coral belt (7 stripes)10 years30 to 36 years
Coral belt (8th stripe)10 years40 to 46 years
Red belt (9 degrees)Final beltFinal belt

Carlos Gracie (IBJJF) belt ranking system timeframes

Belt colorTime at this belt on averageCumulative time until next belt
White1 to 2 years1 to 2 years
Blue2 years3 to 4 years
Purple1.5 years4.5 to 5.5 years
Brown1 year5.5 to 6.5 years 
Black3 years8.5 to 9.5 years
Black belt (1 stripe)3 years11.5 to 12.5 years
Black belt (2 stripes)3 years14.5 to 15.5 years
Black belt (3 stripes)5 years19.5 to 20.5 years
Black belt (4 stripes)5 years24.5 to 25.5 years
Black belt (5 stripes)5 years29.5 to 30.5 years
Black belt (6 stripes)7 years36.5 to 37.5 years
Coral belt (7 stripes)7 years43.5 to 44.5 years
Red & White belt (8 stripes)10 years53.5 to 54.5 years
Red belt (9 degrees)Final beltFinal belt

It’s important to note that the main person in charge of the IBJJF is one of Carlos Gracie’s sons named Carlos Gracie Jr. So, technically it’s not Carlos Gracie Snr’s belt system but rather Carlos Gracie Jnr’s belt system.

But, the main difference is the stripes on the black belt.

The time for each stripe varies. And they also have a red and white belt for the 8th degree of a black belt.

You’ll notice that there is a coral belt, the name is a bit ambiguous. A coral belt is a black and red belt. And is named after a coral snake.

The time to get a brown belt in the IBJJF belt ranking system is a bit shorter than the time it takes typically to get a brown belt from a professor under the Helio Gracie system.

In the IBJJF belt ranking system, it takes a minimum of 5.5 years to get a brown belt in BJJ. 

If you were to get a brown belt from someone from the Helio Gracie lineage it would take about a minimum of 6 years.

brown belt BJJ martial artists grappling
It will take between 6 to 11 years to achieve a brown belt in BJJ

It’s not possible to get your brown belt quicker under the IBJJF system

The IBJJF belt ranking system as explained in this diagram on their official website states that there is a minimum time requirement at each belt before a BJJ student can be considered for promotion.

However, there is no official minimum time period prescribed by people who are from the Helio Gracie lineage.

It’s generally understood however that it takes a considerable amount of time to develop the skills necessary to be considered at a brown belt level.

However, it’s common for people who have a background in other grappling martial arts to progress quicker, as well as people who are naturally talented.

The reason is that BJJ is very similar to other martial arts such as judo, sambo, and wrestling, especially folk-style wrestling.

Therefore, a lot of the instincts, reflexes, and understanding of how to control another person translate over to BJJ. And a person with a background in other grappling arts has a much easier time learning and performing the moves in BJJ.

How Good a BJJ Brown Belt Is 

A BJJ brown belt is one belt before a black belt, and they have already been training for over 5.5 years consistently. But, how good is a BJJ brown belt?

A BJJ brown belt is as good as a black belt in BJJ, and it’s possible for them to win a competitive match or submit a black belt in friendly sparring, according to longtime BJJ practitioners. But, there are various techniques that still can require improvement to be considered a black belt. 

There are various different focuses that a BJJ practitioner should have according to experienced BJJ professors such as Ryan Young.

Here’s a table that explains what they should ideally be focusing on to explain how good a BJJ brown belt is.

BJJ BeltWhat their focus should be and how good they are
White beltLearning the basics
Blue beltPracticing the basics and some additional techniques
Purple beltPracticing the techniques they know + they are dangerous
Brown beltPracticing the techniques + working on a game

As you can see a purple belt is considered dangerous. This is meant if a higher belt is a bit relaxed and gives them too much leeway or is a bit lazy a purple belt will submit them.

A brown belt keeps this ability and also is working on refining their game.

What a brown belt in BJJ works on when the train BJJ

Refining their game is where they know all of the techniques to a very high level, but they develop a preference for techniques that they will use predominantly.

For example, bigger people that are heavier and more muscular will generally have a preference for being on top.

Where they prefer positions such as side control, and the mount. The reason is they can outmuscle smaller people and are heavy which makes these positions much easier.

A smaller person or skinnier person will generally be more geared towards the guard. As it is easier for heavier people to get on top, and outmuscle them. Therefore, they will spend a lot of time attacking the guard.

Skinny and lanky people are also better suited to various techniques. For example, a d’arce choke, and a triangle choke are better suited to people with long arms and legs, and skinny builds.

These techniques require putting the arms and legs into tight spaces and having longer limbs means they have more room to set these techniques up.

A BJJ brown belt is easily able to defeat an untrained opponent and is easily able to submit a blue belt and a white belt.

Many people wonder how good a BJJ blue belt is and how they would do against an untrained opponent. I explained this in detail in this article about what would happen in a sparring match or fight between a BJJ blue belt and an untrained fighter.

How Long Does It Take To Get Each Belt in BJJ?

There is a different amount of time it takes to get each belt in BJJ. Some belts take a long time, whereas others are only 1 to 2 years. Here’s how long it takes to get each belt in BJJ.

These timeframes are for starting with no belt which is a white belt. A blue belt takes 1 to 2 years, a purple belt takes 3 to 6 years, a brown belt takes 6 to 11 years, a black belt takes 8 to 14 years, a coral belt takes 20 to 26 years, a red belt takes 40 to 46 years. 

Exactly how long it takes depends on how often you train, and how strict your instructor is.

For example, some instructors may simply have a time requirement, whereas, others will make sure you know and can perform each of the techniques very well.

Studying outside of training on the mat will also decrease the time it takes to learn the techniques.

There are two main primary grading systems: the IBJJF system and the Helio Gracie ranking system.

Both take about as long as each other to go from one belt to the next. However, the IBJJF system has officially stated that there is a minimum time required to go from one belt to the next.

I’ve provided tables showing how long it takes to get each belt under the two different ranking systems near the top of this article, which makes it much easier to see how long it takes to get each belt.

Is BJJ 3 Times a Week Enough?

To get good at something it’s generally the case that the more your practice the better you’ll get. However, this isn’t the case for all activities.

So, I thought I’d explain whether BJJ 3 times a week is enough, and what the optimum amount of time to train jiu-jitsu is.

As a general rule, training BJJ 3 times a week is enough. Experienced BJJ practitioners say that 1 to 3 times a week is ideal, and that training more than 2 hours a day is the maximum. The absolute ideal is 2 hours every day, however, for most people, this is unrealistic given other commitments.

Other commitments such as work and family mean training for 2 hours every day generally isn’t possible.

Most people also find they are the happiest when they take a few days off to spend alone, with friends and catching up on chores.

Therefore, around 1 to 3 times a week is realistic and is perfectly fine when training BJJ.

Any less than that and you can begin to forget techniques. And you will get out of shape where performing the moves becomes much more difficult.

There are exercises that are specific to jiu-jitsu that a person can do when they’re not going to class.

These are very effective at keeping you in shape and able to easily perform the unique body movements involved in jiu-jitsu.

I’ve been training Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a few years, and over that time I would often be unmotivated to go to class, or be busy with work and ‘had’ to take some time off. Over that time I started implementing solo drills from experienced black belts and doing the warm-ups that we do in class alone in a carpeted room, or in a park on the grass. I found these incredibly helpful and really helped me get better at jiu-jitsu.

Sources

Jacob Wilson

Jacob loves sports. He did karate for 3 years in elementary school, and played volleyball and basketball in high school. He has also been training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for a year, and is a 2 stripe white belt. You can find out more about Jacob at https://sportscentaur.com/about-jacob-wilson/

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