Green Belt For Kids And Adults?

Photo by:

A lot of martial art has a belt system. In some arts a 7 year old child can earn their black belt within 2 years, while in others the black belt is a highly coveted status that can take over a decade to achieve. In BJJ the belt system can at times be confusing. There are belt ranks set up for children, and ones set up for adults. Some academies cross children’s green belt rank over to adults to provide clear feedback between white and blue.

Perhaps one of the most valuable (and sometimes discouraging) factors in BJJ is the difficulty in getting promoted. I’ve seen guys who have trained off and on for years still be white or blue belts, and that maintains the sanctity of the art. Historically, there were different thought processes insofar as belts went; supposedly originally there were two belt colors: white and navy (similar to Aikido’s white and black).

In the grand scheme of things, a belt doesn’t really matter. In a world in which Jon Jones is a white belt, I’m perfectly content being a white or blue belt, and the reality is that I know some blue belts who can beat some black belts (as was the case when Anthony Pettis arm barred Benson Henderson.) That said there are intermediary belts that are interesting. For example, I’ve noticed that very often purple is the first belt that many people take seriously. People think of purple belts as being at a high enough level to instruct and in some cases to run academies altogether. The first place I trained BJJ had a purple instructor for the vast majority of classes with the black belt only occasionally popping in, clearly purple is the beginning of serious BJJ tenure…

Here’s where stuff gets interesting: academies sometimes give belts that are not recognized by the BJJ community. For example: adults getting green belts and kids getting “Junior Black Belts.” I’ve never seen a “Junior Black Belt” in person, but I’ve seen plenty of adult green belts, in fact I used to train at an academy that just stopped awarding them about a month before I arrived there. The idea is to give white belts a step between white and blue. White belt can be a very long and arduous journey, and many people may quit before they ever get to blue, the green belt can be one way to bridge that gap. And, no, I am not discrediting people who are adults and wear green belts, but most tournaments don’t have a green belt division…



Do we want people in our sport who would quit between white and blue because its’ taking too long? I view the length of time between white and black belt to be a filter for people who would potentially dilute the sport. It’s why BJJ black belts tend to be the toughest people on earth.



Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and



  1. I just want to start with, I love reading your articles. Also that you responded to my last comment was awesome.

    My thoughts on the green belt are that we need to look at two views. The business (especially in America) and then the passionate views.
    I, like yourself, have been an active competitor and train hard (mma, not straight jiu jitsu, but competition is competition). Individuals like us who get lost in the learning and love training for the sake of improvement don’t rely on a belt system to keep us dedicated. So having to wait a long time for the blue belt is not such a big deal. It is very similar with anywhere outside of the country (Brazil for example). The people who get into it do so for the passion and competition, the belt is more of an honor when we receive it… So a person can have a business and have it as their means to provide.
    In America… As much as some don’t want to admit it, we have a false sense of entitlement and we have more people who do not care for the kind of achievements that competition gives a person. Most Americans quit when they feel bored, uninterested, or a lack of physical acknowledgment(a belt in this instance) self growth.
    I for see the belt system being changed in America to fit the business models needed to keep a person who doesn’t want to compete involved.
    In traditional martial arts outside of America, it is a lot more harder on the body for training. The mindset is just completely different. America would have law suit galore if they were trained in the same manner as they did other countries.

    • I agree with your comments and I believe there is something to be tought …
      When I started BJJ and was coming from a MMA back ground (2-3 years). The first thing that my master tought me is what to expect from BJJ, was I should join and what is the mentality behind it.
      He told me this story about someone who get a Black Belt after 15 years practicing Jiu Jitsu. This person was not necessarely good, didn’t any major tournament but he trained hardly and constantly for 15 years.His passion, his commitment and his hard work gave him his Black Belt.

      This story blew my mind and it made my love the sport / martial art. Today I don’t necesssarely sseking for a belt, I like to train, spare and meet my friends. A new belt would mean that I have personnaly achieved something and that I really deserve it. Not because I’ve done my years but because my hard work paid of. That should be the lesson to be tought and that you should make years to get a new belt … It is also essential for the mind and your life

  2. I don’t think the green belt is only just about shortening the time between belt promotions. Our school has a set syllabus from white to green and then from green to blue. I think it is easier to learn everything properly when broken down rather than having so much to learn from white to blue.

  3. The author forgot that the belt system is not related to competition ranking. Shortly speaking, the belt system shows how much knowledge a person accumulates and what he could teach others. I would not see some ‘fathers of bjj’ in their 60+ would come and fight with young blue belt, the score is known..

  4. It’s fascinating how the person who proposed the lock and key model for enzymes is also an active brown belt competitor.

    Emil Fischer, I’m your true fan!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here