“What makes a purple belt?” – What should a blue belt concentrate on to become a purple belt?

At Jiu-jitsu Times, we love to get reader feedback and after reading The Blue Belt – Are you Ready for Yours?

One reader had a great question:

“Well I’m really close to purple. My Instructor told me I’m at purple level I just need to know my self defense. Sometimes I feel lost but most of the time I know exactly what to look for in submissions and escapes. What makes a purple belt?”

Without knowing how your particular black belt professor teaches (is he an “old school” self defense oriented type of jiu-jitsu or more sport oriented approach?) I would like to make a few suggestions for the blue going to purple.

If your professor places a strong value on the real fighting / self defence aspect of bjj, then perhaps you may need to set aside the spider guard sweeps and other sport bjj techniques temporarily and do some training on the “old school” jiu-jitsu which takes into consideration takedowns and strikes?

In a more general answer I view the characteristics of the purple belt as:

1) The blue belt is the belt of experimentation. You have enough mat time under your belt and mat fitness to start to explore all of the different games there are out there. Often called “technique collectors” (and that is not necessarily a negative thing!) the blue belt SHOULD give many positions a try. Spend a month specializing on a specific guard and see how successful it is for you. Some will be great and others will have dismal results.

Purple belts have started to establish what is their “A Game” and really concentrate on those techniques which best fit their jiu-jitsu.

2) Movement

  • This is the biggest difference I see between blue and purple belts. Blue belts know most of the techniques, but they move a little slower in recognizing their sweep or submission opportunities.
  • The movement from one position to another is not as smooth and seamless as the purple belt.
  • Transitioning between the positions as your opponent tries to escape or pass is where a purple belt will start to develop.
  • There is little wasted effort in moving from side control to take he back for example.
  • How does the purple belt develop these smooth transitions?…See #3


3) Flow rolling and “catch and release”

I am a big advocate of flow rolling because I think it trains your “mental jiu-jitsu”.

That is recognizing when a position is being lost and then moving to stay ahead of your opponent; recognizing when a submission has presented itself and instantly seizing the opportunity. Approach your roll with a partner of similar level with “accepting” what they are trying to do and then adapt your position.

Rickson Gracie famously called it “flow with the go”.

“Catch and release” means when you are rolling with a training partner of lesser experience, “catch” your submission position, but don’t finish it!

“Release” your opponent to escape and observe where they go. How do they react?

You start to learn and predict where your opponent is going next and with that knowledge you can beat them to the next position.

Both of these training philosophies will improve your movement.

If you have a bjj training question, ask Jiu-jitsu Times and we will do our best to try to answer it in an article! email us at info@jiujitsutimes.com


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