What Should I Train To Become A Blue Belt?

Reader question: I want to ask a question. What are the skills a student needs to demonstrate to be a blue belt?”

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Some BJJ schools have a well-defined curriculum with belt tests for blue belt. But for the majority of BJJ schools, the instructor calls you to the front of the class and ties a new blue belt around your waist when they have seen something in your jiu-jitsu.

Every time a question about belt promotions comes up, some guys chime in with the stock response “Belts aren’t important! Just shut up and train!” Much of the time, I think that type of posturing is the BJJ equivalent of “virtue signalling”. “I have no ego! Look at me!”

Truth is, belts are an important recognition and reinforcement of your jiu-jitsu training and something to be proud of!

Now let’s address the original question. Here are a few thoughts on the subject starting with the opinion of Grandmaster Helio Gracie who said that a blue belt should be able to defend themselves against a heavier, stronger, untrained opponent. Difficult to fault that definition given that jiu-jitsu is so popular for that very reason.

There are a number of basic ground positions in BJJ.

In closed guard (top)
In 1/2 guard top
In side control (attacking)
In mount (attacking)
Have back (attacking)
I have closed guard (bottom)
I have 1/2 guard (bottom)
I’m under side control
I’m mounted I have my back taken

Question: do you have at least 2 solid techniques from each of those ground positions? It is hard to imagine a legitimate blue belt who has no technical solution to escape the mount or several solid guard passes.

A sound understanding of the ground positions and a few moves in all of the positions.

The second and more difficult aspect to define is how well you move. This is difficult to articulate, but you know a smooth technique when you see it.

Observe the difference in movements between the white belts, blue belts, and purple belts executing the same passes, sweeps, and subs at tournaments. The speed, fluidity, tightness of execution are markedly different.

It takes time, sometimes years to be able to move efficiently and smoothly in executing your techniques. An experienced coach can watch a few minutes of a roll and fairly accurately assess the relative skill level of the guys.

I asked a multiple-time Muay Thai champion how long it took him to evaluate the skill level of a fighter. He replied that watching the fighter shadow box for a few minutes would reveal most of what he needed to know.

A combination of technical knowledge of BJJ and muscle memory in being able to apply the aforementioned movements is the key to the blue belt.


  1. It’s interesting that after agreeing with the definition of what a blue belt should be. To ‘be able to defend themselves against a heavier, stronger, untrained opponent.’ You then state that a blue belt need to know at least 2 guard passes. I’ve seen a lot of Street fights involving unskilled people, never have i seen the necessity to know one guard pass, let alone several.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here