BJJ Poll: Does Your BJJ Academy Issue Stripes on Belts to Mark Students' Progress?

by Caleb on July 11, 2009


This week’s BJJ Poll comes to us from Rich in New York, who wrote to us and said:

I have a question for you to consider for your weekly poll. It concerns the use of stripes and whether everyone’s academy issues stripes to mark progress during one’s BJJ training. My academy uses the stripe system, with 4 stripes being the maximum before a new belt is issued, but I have heard that some academies do not use any stripe system. I think this would make for an interesting poll question.

Great question from another member of the Mighty 600,000! Stripes on one’s jiu-jitsu belt are something that I do believe vary among schools. In some jiu-jitsu academies, stripes are an eagerly anticipated milestone that mark improvement and an impending promotion to the next belt rank. In others jiu-jitsu schools the instructors offer no stripes at all, preferring to simply stick with the individual colored belts alone as indicators of skill in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

So what’s it like where you train? Does your school use stripes on the belts? Let us know in the poll above, and be sure to leave a comment below!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Meerkatsu July 12, 2009 at 3:19 am

I think stripes are fairly ubiquitous in the UK, but I can imagine plenty of old school clubs in the USA and Brazil not using stripes…and probably laughing at us for needing these rank crutches to maintain our fragile egos ;)

JonBroster July 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I train at two different, unconnected schools and both of them use stripes at all belt levels. Seems to be the norm here in the UK. Jon.

Josh July 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

At present we train at a farm in Dunedin, New Zealand without our master (he is currently in Brasil) – so recieve no tabs.

But our master does issue tabs to reward progress when he is around … I think it is very important as a white, Blue and Purple belt to know you are moving up and learning new things in the juijitsu world.

Moe July 12, 2009 at 10:14 pm

My master gives stripes as a stepping stones and a progress checks between belts. I believe it helps students feel like they are improving and the instructor has noticed the change in his/her skill level.
Although I have seen him promote someone who is an expert in another dicipline from white to blue with no stripes for his abilites. After having him train under him for several months.

Andy July 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm

We do use stripes, but there doesn’t seem to always be so much rhyme or reason. As a white belt I received 2 stripes at once and then at the next belt ceremony my blue belt.
There is no specific criteria that I cans see from a student perspective. They kind of seem like at a boys to help keep you feeling like your making progress in between belts. My academy really only seems to hand out belts once or twice a year for the most part. If your there at the ceremony you might kind of just get a stripe.

leslie July 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm

We don’t use stripes. My coach has said that he can keep track of what level we all are without them.

Jay July 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm

We use stripes at my school but there is often no rhyme or reason for it. We do not have “belt ceremonies” as some other schools do either. When the instructor issues stripes it tends to be hit or miss and if you are not in attendence much during a week when he decides to give them out….you miss out.

Travis July 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

Honestly I have tried to see it from both sides but from my perspective I really do not see the need for stripes. Belts actually have a practical purpose…keeping your gi closed but stripes what purpose do they serve?

You are either good enough to be promoted or you are not. If your instructor cannot keep track of your progress then perhaps you should find another school.

Natan July 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm

At my school stripes are given to kids but not adults.

dax July 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm

In my opinion I believe the use of stripes is a great way to measure someones progress especially blue belt and above. Once you’ve achieved your first rank (example blue belt) It may take as long as 4 years or as little as a year until your purple belt may be awarded. I can imagine how not using a degree system could cause someone to become very discouraged and confused. One good example I’ll explain. Say you have a blue belt who’s been that rank for three years.. He smashes most of the fellow blue belts but is equal to someone who has recently been promoted. If he had 3-4 stripes he could feel a bit more anxious to achieve his purple belt. Bjj isnt about achieving rank as quickly as possible but it’s rewarding knowing how far you’ve come.

Simco July 22, 2009 at 5:46 am

Nashville MMA, a Lloyd Irvin affiliate, uses stripes
They aren’t a huge deal. They are rarely addressed except for the occasional “Hey, you got a stripe. Congrats.” They are mostly based on time training for white belts unless the person progresses unusually fast. And for blues and above they are more skill or tournament win based.
The use of stripes certainly does not represent that the coach is unaware of his student’s abilities. That is a gross and unfair generalization to make by people who are trying to feel superior to other people they do not know.

spencer kristich May 21, 2010 at 5:44 am

in kioto bjj where i train they give out stripes, 4 being the max before you go to blue belt.

Josh silver November 10, 2010 at 10:47 am

I come from RGA in London and we use stripes. Its a good way of measuring how well you have to do in order to get higher. For instance if it was just me and a 20 other white blets with no stripes I would feel very discouraged to see a very good white belt beating me all the time and also may feel like I am not progressing as I should. But if that same guy has 4 stripes on his belt it shows that actually he is more experienced and is something I need to work up to. Also with there only being a small belt system it is good to know you are progressing. To me BJJ is such a dynamic martial art, I am brown belt in kickboxing and also have studied Keysi fight method but I was still very shocked at how hard BJJ was and I think these stripes do help in realising that you are progressing

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