What is the Hardest Belt to Get in BJJ?

Question: what is the hardest belt to get in Brazilian jiu jitsu?

Simple answer: black belt. Because you need to get all the other belts before this, the black belt is logically the hardest belt to get in BJJ.

But for a more nuanced answer to this question we can take multiple angles: 

  1. How much time does it take to get to the next belt in BJJ?
  2. How likely are you to reach a certain belt level?
  3. How difficult are the requirements to get a certain belt?

It turns out that each of these perspectives leads to a different answer to the question: which is the hardest belt to get in Brazilian jiu jitsu? 

Let’s get into them!

Which BJJ belt is the hardest to get?

Which BJJ belt takes the longest time to get?

The average time it takes to get the next belt becomes shorter with each belt (see the table below). 

BJJ BeltsAverage years to get from the last belt?Minimum years from last belt (IBJJF)
White belt00
Blue belt2-40
Purple belt22
Brown belt1-21.5
Black belt1-21

Most people spend the longest on white belt and the shortest on the brown belt.

So white belt is the hardest belt to go through and the brown belt the easiest, right?

Not so fast. remember that most brand belts are very committed to preserving you get to and my train 4 to 5 times per week.

Most white belts are still new and maybe train only once or twice a week and might take a break for a couple of months in between.

So maybe the white belt just takes the longest to shed because white belts train much less on average than the other belts.

For example, I was a white belt for 4 years, and then I got my purple belt within 2 years. But that’s because when I started training BJJ I trained 1-2 times per week, while as a blue belt I trained 5-6 times per week.

So the time angle doesn’t fully explain which is the hardest belt to get in BJJ.

What percentage of people go to the next belt?

We can also determine which belt level in BJJ is the hardest by seeing how many people can obtain it. 

For example, if almost nobody would be able to advance from a purple belt to a brown belt, then a brown belt would be very hard to get. 

Here’s a table of my rough estimate of how many people advance from one belt to the next belt based on my personal experience:

BJJ Belt AdvancementsHow many people advance to this belt? (rough estimates)
Untrained to white belt<1%
White belt to blue belt15%
Blue belt to purple belt50%
Purple belt to brown belt75%
Brown belt to black belt85%

As I said these are just a rough estimate based on my personal experience. 

Nevertheless, I’m confident that the direction and the Order of magnitude of these numbers are correct.

Basically, the longer you have been training jiu jitsu, the less likely you are to quit.

If you are a brown belt already, you probably won’t quit.

If you are a white belt, there’s a big chance you’ll quit soon.

If you never trained before, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll ever start and earn your white belt. 

So taken from this angle, white belt is the hardest belt to get in BJJ, and black belt the easiest.

This may sound a bit cheeky, but remember that we’re comparing how hard it is for a white belt to get a blue belt, to a brown belt to get a black belt. And the former is harder.

Also remember that what makes it hard to get promoted in Brazilian jiu jitsu is largely life related.

The hard part isn’t learning techniques; it is to consistently make time available to train multiple times per week every week without quitting.

That’s what I often say: if you can get your purple belt you can get your black belt in BJJ.

And also: the most important belt to get on your way to the black belt, is the white belt. Because it means that you started.

There’s wisdom in these sayings.

How difficult are the requirements to get a certain belt? 

Although there are no official requirements to get a certain belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu,  it’s clear that each belt needs to perform more difficult techniques than the last.

For example, a brown belt may be required  to learn a berimbolo, whereas a white belt is required to learn a hip bump sweep. 

And a berimbolo is much harder than a hip bump sweep.

So you might think that each next belt is more difficult to get than the previous belt. Right? 

Well, no .

Because the fact of the matter is that you grow along with your belt. 

People that go to get a brown belt are already purple belts. 

And it is just as hard for a purple belt to learn a berimbolo as it is for a white belt to learn a hip bump sweep.

So taken from this angle, all belts in BJJ are equally hard to get, because you grow along with your belt.

Is blue belt the hardest belt to get in BJJ?

A lot of people say that they find the blue belt the hardest belt to get in BJJ.

This is quite a personal statement and it is definitely not true for everybody.

However, there are some things that make the blue belt particularly hard to get.

First of all, when you start training jiu jitsu as a white belt, it’s not a habit for you yet. It’s not something that’s fixed in your schedule.

Your girlfriend or spouse may not like that you are out multiple times per week in the evening.

Maybe work gets in the way of training a lot.

If you get past the blue belt you’ll have likely sorted all of these things out.

In that sense everything gets easier after you get your blue belt. 

What makes a BJJ belt hard to get?

Bernardo Faria, the guy behind BJJfanatics.com,  thinks that the purple belt is the hardest belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

For him it was the belt that he lost a lot of his motivation. 

He felt that at white belt he was brand new and learning a ton. And at blue belt he was still learning a lot.

But he felt like he hit a plateau when he was a purple belt. He also felt burnt out from competitions and training hard.

I think that these things are the hardest to overcome in BJJ: plateaus and burnout.

But the truth is, these can happen at any belt. 

For Bernardo, they hit him at purple belt.

Personally, I’ve struggled with plateaus within each belt (multiple times, per belt).

But I’ve always broken through them. Not by doing anything special; just by continuing to train.

So that’s my main takeaway from Bernardo’s message: there might come a belt at which you feel like you’re plateauing. It might feel like the hardest belt.

But you’ve just got to train through it.

Taking it all together: which BJJ belt is the hardest to get?

The simple answer is that the black belt is the hardest to get. It requires the most difficult techniques, it takes the longest to get and the fewest people get it in absolute terms.

But, relatively speaking, all belts are pretty much equally hard. That means that it’s just as hard for a white belt to get a blue belt as it is for a blue belt to get a purple belt, and so forth.

And always remember that the biggest leap you ever made was from untrained person to white belt. Almost nobody in the general population makes this leap, so you instantly put yourself ahead of 99% of the competition 🙂

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