BJJ Poll: Should the IBJJF Mandate Belt Promotions After Set Timeframes?


We got this idea for a poll from one of the Mighty 600,000 in Southern California. He writes:

[Where I train] we do 8 months till you get your blue belt, 2 years as a blue belt till you get your purple belt year and half for till you get your brown and year and half till you get your black, how do others schools work with their promotion. I have been seen some blue belts at some tournaments that were blue belts when i was a white white belt and i am getting ready to be a purple in 2 months and i see the same blue belts lol… What do you think??? Should the IBJJF regulate a school or professor to make it known that this guy got his belt at this time.

Currently the IBJJF does offer some pretty strict guidelines about when certain belt promotions are possible, but they do not mandate a promotion after a specified time frame. This would certainly prohibit perceived sand bagging at tournaments, and remove instructors’ discretion about when a student is ready to be given a new jiu-jitsu belt ranking.

What do you think? Should the IBJJF adopt a policy like the one described above, where a student will receive certain belts after a given time period? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below after you vote!

16 thoughts on “BJJ Poll: Should the IBJJF Mandate Belt Promotions After Set Timeframes?”

  1. The instructors should decide whether or not a student is ready for promotion. The instructors know their students and their abilities, there are certain requirements that need to be met before every promotion. Some individuals take longer than others to develop their skills, let the instructors be the judge of that.

  2. I don’t think time put in is the only answer. 1 year, 5 times a week with lots of time rolling is a lot different from 1 year twice a week with mainly technique drilling.

    Competition performance is a better guideline, and it doesn’t even require promotions per se. Perhaps a points-per-medal system could be implemented at recognized competitions (i.e. gold=3, silver=2, bronze=1) so that someone who has a certain number of points (let’s get religious and say 7) can not compete at that belt level again. It doesn’t mean they get promoted, but that multi-medal collector will have to go up a level to compete.

    Let’s be honest, while it’s fun watching up and comers sometimes no one (apart from immediate teammates, I suppose) really cares who the best purple belt in the world is. If competition is about challenge and growth then that purple is better off competing against browns than he or she is mopping the floor with a bunch of recently promoted purples.

    I have voted “yes” because I think the spirit of the question is regarding competition levels and not only belt colors.

  3. I voted a strong NO. Having a lot of early experience in the traditional martial arts system (regrettably) and more recently being limited in my training time due to work/college obligations, the idea of promotions based simply on years spent training is a HUGE RED FLAG.

    Of course I realize the spirit behind the idea – and that legit Black Belts overseeing the reality of it makes it a much safer concept, but the scary fact is that (most) traditional martial arts have been using this system for years in a way that promotes their own financial gain more than their students real abilities (whether they mean to or not; I realize some who don’t understand the difference may not be doing it intentionally).

    The school needs profit and charges by the month – some students get too focused on the belt and only reach for that – so using the “time only” concept, schools promise students promotion based solely on their attendance record and performance goes out the window.

    Case in point, I am a purple belt now. I train with some guys who are a 1 stripe purple, but first started bjj when I was already a blue belt! The difference is, although I continued to train throughout that time period, they have been able to train much more often within that same time period – and our belt vs. performance ratio is right where it should be – thanks to a great instructor who promotes based on “performance.”

    I am all for guidelines that help prevent both sand-bagging and fake promotions, but without some serious revisions the poll question proposes a Teflon-slope – and I don’t think any of us want to risk that catastrophe!

  4. At this school, you automatically get a black belt after less than 6 years (8 months + 2 + 1.5 + 1.5 years)?? WTF?! According to this, I’d already be a black belt, whereas in reality I barely feel comfortable at purple. What bullshit – belt promotion schedules have to be flexible, and dependent on the particular student.

  5. time in rank should be the last consideration. and the last thing i want is a central federation telling my teacher, who has done bjj longer than most of his students have been alive, what to do.

    then i bet the federation will want money for this….

    i wanna know the name of this school that prompted this question.

  6. At the last NAGA I went to one of the the white belts from my school, who has only trained for 6 months, beat an opponent that one of the purple belts recognized from his first competition at white belt. Needles to say we all thought this was a bit ridiculous, but if the guy has been training that long and not improving, maybe he really is still a white belt. I agree on the IBJJF’s minimum time to a belt requirements, but mandatory promotions seem a little much. People should be excepted for progressing at their own rates, and not have to worry about belts. As they say “the belt is just there to hold your pants up”.

  7. Shyeah…uh…no. BJJ is one of the only MA’s at the moment that has so far escaped this “time based” stigma. I have a step sister and a (girl) friend that have recently gotten their black belts in TKD (one in Florida, one here in San Diego.) I think it took 2 whole years of them going and “sparring” to get those. To me that’s a freaking joke and, no disrespect to either one, neither one of them could hold off an attacker with even a modicum of physicality, which is one of the reasons that each one started going in the first place. In my opinion that type of advancement can even be MORE dangerous for those involved. Sure, I love how the MA’s gives someone the confidence to deal with hostile situations. Sure, they won’t freak out, and may be able to think a little clearer during those situations. But I think it might actually deceive people into thinking, “hey, I’ve got a TKD black belt. I’m bad ass. I can get us through this no problem,” when, in fact, they cannot.

    I would much rather see BJJ advancement based STRICTLY on ability. The belt is SUPPOSED to signify this ability. I think it’s atrocious that people would consider a time based advancement schedule. “Oh, you’re a 2 strip purple belt, you have been training, 2.75 years!” But you don’t know how “good” he actually is? Hogwash. The belt signifies ability. Pure and simple. Even to the point that I think MOST people won’t EVER get to the black belt level. There are some things certain people can and cannot do. Period. I’m a 42 year old overweight purple belt and I’ve pretty much resigned myself that I will NEVER become a black belt. It’s too far in the future. My body will only continue to break down. I will continue to get run over by the younger, stronger, faster crowd. Sure, I’ll continue to learn, and I won’t ever stop going, and, in fact, I would be ecstatic to just make brown at some point in the future. But I think people need to be realistic and know that if someone is a “BJJ Black Belt” that MEANS something. It doesn’t mean that they’ve trained for a certain period of time. It means that that person is an absolute freaking beast on the ground. End of story. Game over. BJJ black belt=monster grappler.

  8. Just looked at IBJJF.com at belts and they say the same thing that this person is saying! So it looks like they go by the IBJJF belt system, agreed that the Professor or the Teacher should promote as they wish. I am hearing lot’s of stuff about like where does this person train and that but I believe that the IBJJF is set by Carlos Gracie Jr. the Founder of the federation, so if your teacher or professor is not as good or has the name as him i am not sure anyone of you have the right to talk smack about where this person trains at… UNLESS Gracie Jr. must not know how to promote people if this is his system? It should be up the the Professor for sure but I too have seen like the guy from NAGA people that should not been where they are at.

    Time at Belt and how much your training should be the way people promote, but at the same time frame I train 5 days a week some times 6 and i teach so i will learn faster but what about people that dont work at a Jiu Jitsu school? How about a mom that trains 2 times a week and has been doing this for 6-8 years should she not get her Black Belt because she cant beat someone that has been training for 2 years and only eats and sleeps Jiu Jitsu!

    This is where a lot of you are wrong, I cant compare what my skills vs. someone else i have to compare it to myself how is Jiu Jitsu helping me in my life, am i living a better life because of Jiu Jitsu, am i getting a good work out, is my LIFE better with Jiu Jitsu? These are the questions that we should be asking our self. A mom that has been training 6-8 years should get her black belt as much as a world Champion does and thats the bottom line! What does the Mighty 600,000 think?

  9. Just wanted to offer my opinion on this week’s poll concerning belt promotions. For competition purposes, yes, there should be a limit on how long a person can remain at any given belt. I have seen and heard of many competitors being held at a certain belt level by their instructors for many years just so they could be more dominant at their belt level. Much like the Cuban baseball teams in the Olympics, their talent and training goes a long way, but so does being at belt great deal longer than their competitors.

    However, I am not sure whether being a blue belt for four or five years is any more advantageous than dropping twenty pounds to get into a lower weight bracket. That being said, it seems having people who remain at a particular belt for years longer than their competitors defeats the purpose of having a belt system. Also, not promoting competitors to make them more competitive just seems unfair to the sport and competitors.

  10. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Doing that would be tragic. It would make team affiliation more important than skill. Your belt level shows your skill not how much cash you paid your instructor. Regulation on time between belt evaluations is enough mandating promotion is nothing but BAD, nothing positive can come out of that as is evident by TMAs. It should be completely up to the individual instructor how and when they promote with performance and execution being the 2 leading factors.

  11. I feel it’s up to each GOOD instructor to keep or suspend their judgement in this matter. Why? Because it’s all on the face of things anyway.

    Firstly, the belt only protects 2 inches of your back. Whatever your belt, you should always enjoy training and strive to get better. That’s all that really counts.

    Secondly, no BJJ organisation is going to just throw belts at people because they’ve put in enough time on the mat. These things are ALWAYS done after consultation with the students’ coach anyway. I mean think about it, if the student has done the minimum amount of time on the mat as described above, how is the organisation/federation going to know that he/she has? It’s usually his/her coach who let’s them know. Why? because that coach feels the student is ready.

    The biggest objections seem to be that:

    i, the organisation officials don’t know the student – the coach does. Since the coach is the one who has to communicate to the organisation about the student anyway, he/she will not be just bypassed.

    ii, belts are not only based on time on the mat. I agree with that but with a reservation. If we were to keep the above in mind, then at a gym that has the correct coaching methods, people should be advancing evenly according to a Normal Distribution Curve (meaning you’ll have some who excel and some who will suck but the majority will progress evenly). If not, then there is something wrong with the coaching methods.

    AND THAT’S MY BIGGEST BEEF WITH THE IBJJF Mandate QUESTION. I feel it can give BAD instructors (who are/used to be good athletes but not necessarily good coaches) something to hide behind!!

    -“It’s not my fault! I coached him/her the same way I coached everyone else and he/she got her belt thru the IBJJF Mandate just like someone else. It’s not my fault he/she sucks!”

    I’d much rather there was a IBJJF Mandate on Coach/instructor training before people could open academies (or at least a recommendation!)

    Help the coaches put a scientific methodology to their coaching but then just trust them with their academies. I think that’s a better idea.

  12. Yeah it would be good to mandate belt promotions, on uniform way . I’ve been doing bjj for a year and won manny competitions. I feel this rule should apply to competitions. We all see guys with there belts for long. I’m compete so I put it all on the line life included. I will train hard 6 days a week do what it takes to be a champ. I hate when I go against a guy that’s been in the same belt for years. Ji jitsu has a beutiful ranking system .the ranking sytem is for protection of player, a pupple days I can break your legs warnning… Belt level represent what you know. And your ability to exercise ji jitsu in a real life situation. If I guy a sand bagger he could hurt people beyond what there ready to except

  13. I believe there should be a mandate for competitors. For example, they could make a rule which says if someone places at an IBJJF event, then they must compete at a highter belt level at that event the next year as long as they’ve met the minimum time requirements.

    I have a friend that’s competed often and been training consistently 6X/week for 3 years since he got his blue belt (yes, training 6X/week for 3 years AFTER he got his blue belt) and placed 2nd in his division at the IBJJF World Championships. What did he get? He got to go from 2-stripe blue to 4-stripe blue. Needless to say he’s pretty upset.

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