What Should A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Purple Belt Work On?

Photo by Pixabay.

My esteemed editor at the Jiu-Jitsu Times looked at my recent article entitled “What Should A New Blue Belt Be Working On” and proposed I do an article for purple belts.

There are many fewer purples around than blues. They say 9 out of 10 white belts never make it to blue. The number must be more like 1 out of 30, 40, or 50 for the purple belt.

The purple belt has a considerable repertoire of techniques. Someone once said that they believed that by the time a BJJ student reaches purple belt, they know all the techniques that a black belt knows. The difference is of course the execution of those moves.

For the purple belt, learning yet more moves is not the path to their continued improvement. Black belt Eddie Fyvie calls purple belt “the rolling belt”. The purple will be looking to sharpen the execution of the moves that they already know. I liken the difference between purple and brown and black belts to the difference between a gym boxer, amateur, and pro boxer. The pro boxer doesn’t know any additional punches that the gym trainer doesn’t know. But there are significant differences in the timing, precision, combinations, and footwork. So it is with the purple belt.

In addition to rolling to learn all of the subtleties and nuances of applying those moves that they already know, there are a few areas that the purple belt can focus upon.

Fill your gaps.

You may get by just fine for a while by having a strong top game, but to be a solid purple belt you should have a competent guard to deal with an opponent who is going to really put the pressure on you. If you are primarily a guard player, you need to assess if you have an equal top passing game.

You may have been avoiding certain positions in your jiu-jitsu for the initial part of your training. But now at purple, you should be honest with yourself and seek to correct weak points in your game.

The more advanced your opponents are, the more readily they will be able to identify and exploit those weaknesses.

My head instructor used to say the ideal jiu-jitsu practitioner had an equal top and bottom game.

Build your A game.

This piece of advice is in some ways the opposite of point #1. Sharpen your strengths. You should by now have a decent idea of what your basic game is. Your regular training partners will certainly be able to tell you what your best positions are if you have been victimizing them for the past few years.

If you have a few key killer positions — e.g. the triangle, butterfly guard, and the D’arce choke — you can now really delve deeper into those strong areas and sharpen them to a black belt level. Many purple belts have some positions that they know so well that when they can get to their position against an opponent with more experience, their strength in that one area can overcome.

You need to build a system around that key position. What do I mean by a “system”? Some excellent examples would be Eddie Bravo’s rubber guard, the Kimura trap, and the Danaher Death Squad’s leg locking system.

When you achieve your position, you know exactly how your opponent is going to react and have an answer for those reactions. You need to immerse yourself in your position and develop deep knowledge. This takes months of tunnel vision on that specific position.

Start in bad positions.

When you roll with lower belts, work from bad positions. This is invaluable in helping you develop the ability to relax, breath, and think clearly when you are defending on the bottom.

A purple belt can generally control the direction of the roll against lower belts. Use this to steer the roll into positions that you want to spend time in.

This experience will come in handy when you are fatigued and find yourself in a bad position with someone higher than your level. You will be more efficient and conserve your energy better. You can practice your escapes until your timing and anticipation are better.

As a purple belt, what are you working on?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here