The Biggest Differences Between Blue And Purple Belts In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I judged a grappling competition recently. There were no points; the only way to win was by submission. Three judges decided who the winner was based on submission attempts if the match did not end by submission. It turned out to be a pretty good format without a lot of stalling.

I watched several matches between white, blue, and purple belt competitors with certain patterns at each belt level. For example at the white belt level, many of the matches were tests of grip strength, cardio, and sheer determination. The white belts had a limited arsenal to draw from but no shortage of enthusiasm and determination.

There was a subtle but noticeable difference between the blue belts and purple belts in their matches that I see often in tournaments.

The more experienced blue belts knew plenty of moves. They were using much the same knee cut guard passes and De la Riva guards employed by the purple belts.

The biggest difference was in the use of patience and timing in the execution of those same moves. While the blue belt might directly dive right in with the knee through the middle guard pass and try to pressure through the guard player’s legs, the purple belts were more patient. They would stay safe in a solid posture, patiently remove hooks and grips, and do their knee cut pass with more precise timing.

The question put to the blue belt competitor would be, “You know enough moves. Now what?”

To answer my own question, I would say that the blue belt should be working on how to apply those moves in a more efficient and effective way.

More specifically, blue belts need

  • a more skillful use of correct timing
  • a recognition of the opportunity for a specific technique
  • sensitivity to the opponent’s movement and changing pressure
  • the ability to see different possibilities instead of single minded pursuit of forcing one technique

Black belt Chris Haueter, one of the best mat philosophers, had a great way of putting it in the must-see BJJ documentary Roll. He said, and I am paraphrasing, that, “At purple belt there are no more new moves.”

In other words, your improvement comes from refining how you are utilizing what you have already seen.

What do you see as the most significant difference between the blue and purple belt?


  1. I ve train bjj for 7 years.. Now im purple.. What i think is.. that you sloooow down man.. White belts are hotheads.. Blue belts are fast with a plenty technique and assasin skills.. But being a purple is time when you slow down.. Think twice.. Have a much more tightness in every sincle milimeter of technique.. Its a precision and presure game.. You know yourself very well and you focus on your own unique A game 🙂


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