For parents of kids training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the ranking system can be a little confusing. That’s particularly true if they’ve dabbled in other martial arts, and they’re comparing one ranking system to another. Here at Guerrilla BJJ in Reno, we follow the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) graduation system. Here’s how it works.
ibjjf graduation system
Kids, like adults, begin martial arts as white belts, which have no prerequisites. Schools decide appropriate age for starting BJJ, but usually it’s when a child is able to pay attention and follow simple instructions. At Guerrilla, we have kids beginning BJJ as early as age four.
After between 12 to 16 months as a white belt, kids will progress through the ranks as follows:
- Gray belts
- Yellow belts
- Orange belts
- Green belts
Within each of those colors are variations that indicate a certain level of experience. A white stripe is the first belt, a solid color is the second belt, and a black stripe is the third belt within each colored belt level.
- Kids BJJ gray belts are considered intermediate rollers, with a focus on escapes and control. While the IBJJF has no minimum time requirement for promotions between gray belts, they do specify an age range of 4 and 15 for any of three gray belts.
- Kids BJJ yellow belts are also considered intermediate – a continuation of the focus in gray belts, with an emphasis on the sports aspect of BJJ. Kids earning yellow belts are between 7 and 15 years of age.
- Kids BJJ orange belts are considered advanced practitioners for their age. They’re being taught more advanced, complicated moves that require intricate transitions. Usually, kids earning an orange belt have been training in BJJ for at least four years, and often longer. They’re between the ages of 10 and 15.
- Kids BJJ green belts have typically between training between five and six years. They’re between the ages of 13 and 16. While their skill level is considered advanced, there is usually a size disadvantage. In some cases, green belts train with adult intermediate and advanced belts, as appropriate.
Once a kid turns 16, they move to the adult belts (blue and up). At this age, they tend to drive themselves to class and push their own progress in the art. They’ve trained enough and with enough people to get a feel for what blue belt means and become more focused on the results of their training.
kids’ ranks vs. adult ranks
You may notice that there are lot more kids’ ranks than there are adult ranks. There are two big reasons for this. First, kids tend to be much more reward oriented than they are results oriented. Progressing through belts every 12 to 16 months helps create a sense of accomplishment in an art that can be hard for kids to meaningful gauge their own progress.
Second, the mental, emotional, and physical variety of kids ranging from 5-15 years old is all over the map. If there were only four belts, it would be hard to categorize proficiency across a such a wide range of attributes. Having the belt variety helps to more accurately recognize where a kid is in their jiu-jitsu journey.
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