Reader Question: “Student wants to wear their old kids belt to adult class”

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Question: “My question has to do with lower belts (kid belts) to adult belts.
We had a young man enter the gym and wanted to check out our team.
Of course we were happy to have him and asked if he had any experience in BJJ.
He said he was a green belt at his old school and when he graduated from high school he joined the army.
He is now 22. He wants to continue to wear the green belt or be awarded his blue belt.
Now we have seen him roll and he does know some basics, he does know a couple of submissions, but not blue belt level, and our adult class does not have kid belts.
Any suggestions you may have on this would be helpful.”

Jiu-jitsu Times: I have seen some club photos in bjj gyms that have adult green belts, but it sounds like your gym is not one of them.

The simple answer is that well know quote:
“When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere.”
Saint Ambrose

The student needs to respect the culture and rules of the new academy.

It is a small blow to the ego to put on a white belt again, but it is a very minor concession to make to start training under new instructors.

I believe that the student should put the white belt on again (since your adult program doesn’t use green belts) and adopt the rules of your academy.

Many years ago I had earned a green belt (in adult classes) in judo under my Japanese instructor.
I then switched to Brazilian jiu-jitsu when the 1st Bjj Black belt came to my city from Brazil.

Several years later, I moved to another country where there was no Bjj academy, but there was an excellent Judo instructor.
Joining his academy I explained my experience (about 7 years) in judo and Bjj.

The Judo instructor explained diplomatically that I should just start with the white belt and train and later we would worry about rank.

That was fine by me and I happily cinched on a white belt and got down to what was most important: LEARNING Judo!

At the end of my work term, I had to leave the country and the Judo dojo, and my Judo instructor called me over and wrapped a brown belt around my waist.

It all works out in the end.
It has been said many times… but worry MORE about improving your skills and less about your next belt or stripe!

So Now I Got My Blue Belt,…Now What??


  1. As a black belt in BJJ and green belt in judo I disagree. If you ever earn a belt, regardless of your age or if you haven’t trained in 20 years, ir doesnt matter. You should ALWAYS be able to wear it. Nobody has the right to strip ajyone off their rank. In the military, even if you are dead you are still acknowledged for the rank you received. You earned it, never let people take that away from you.

  2. I’ve had to deal with that myself. Although it’s a good conversation starter when you’re wearing a belt that doesn’t fit in with your new team, it’s an indication that your belt color is more important to you than your progression. What belt you’re wearing doesn’t matter once the rolling starts, so why let your ego about it become an issue?

  3. From Capoeira experience, I have seen many times when a new advanced student comes form another school and starts with a white belt. That is just the way it is. After some time, usually at the next full grading term, they are awarded a belt that represents their skill level and commitment to their new school. We say that a belt is there to hold your pants up. Maybe not so much in Jiujitsu, but in the end the belt colour doesn’t matter. You either submit the other person or they submit you. What colour around your waist is irrelevant.

  4. If you hold rank in a system and go train at a new gym in the same system then you should wear whatever belt your last instructor put on your waist. If not it is an insult to their work they’ve put into you. Which is why they gave you the rank to begin with.
    However, if you leave your gym for the reason of going to another gym that promotes quicker, then come back to your gym. You need to put on the rank that you left your origin gym with, not a rank that someone else promoted you too, unless it was authorized by your original instructor. Due to moving out of area, etc. things of that nature.
    If you are starting a new system then you should start at white belt, unless the instructor decides differently.
    Bottom line, wear what instructor says, if you want to train at their gym. If you object with their rules and can’t do as they wish, regardless of who’s wrong or right…. Don’t train there.

  5. Let him wear his green belt, whats the big deal. He will eventually realise that he looks like a clown as an adult while wearing a green belt, and change it to white belt himself. Or just let him wear it if he wants, who cares, its not like hes wearing a black belt.


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