A Foolproof Guide to the Kids Jiu Jitsu Belts Ranking System

16.06.2021 by

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known for its tough promotion standards and for its ranks to really have meaning. A big part of that is that children cannot be awarded adult ranks – there are no children who hold a black belt in BJJ, nor even a blue belt!  Instead, a fully thought-out ranking system exists for children. Keep reading to find out how the kids jiu jitsu belts ranking system works!

The Kids Jiu Jitsu Belts Ranking System Explained

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu kids belt rank system offers faster promotions between belts than the adult system does. But as the kids jiu jitsu belts system includes more belts it still takes a considerable amount of time to fully progress all the way to green belt (the highest kids rank). Most people will age out of the kids’ program before reaching green belt.

The kids jiu jitsu belts ranking system applies to everyone below the age of 16 and the only rank it shares in common with adults is the white belt. After white belt, the kid’s system departs for a different range of colors and gradations. For each belt after white belt students are awarded three different versions of each colored belt: first a colored belt with a white horizontal bar, then a solid-colored belt, and finally a colored belt with a black horizontal bar. 

Students are eligible to be promoted to the next belt color after they have been awarded their third (black bar) belt of the same color.

While the colors for children’s ranks are generally standardized, stripe promotions are not. The IBJJF does not regard stripes as official ranks but recommends their usage as regular promotion helps children remain motivated. However, somewhat confusingly the IBJJF suggests the usage of three different stripe systems. We’ll explore this aspect of the kids jiu jitsu belts system in more depth further on in the article!

children's BJJ belts

Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt Ranks Listed

White belt

  • Minimum age: No minimum age

The first belt, this rank is where everyone (child and adult) begins their Jiu Jitsu journey. Many gis come with a white belt in case your school doesn’t offer their own gis for sale.

This rank is unique amongst kids jiu jitsu belts ranks as there is only one white belt instead of the three that each of the other belts has.

Grey belts

  • Belts included: Grey + White Bar / Grey / Grey + Black Bar
  • Minimum age: 4 years old
  • Average time to receive Grey + White belt: 6 months training
  • Average promotion time per belt: Varies; 6 months for Grey + White, 12 months for Grey and Grey + Black.

Your child’s first promotion will be to a grey belt with a white horizontal bar running across it. Depending on your school you can expect this first promotion to take about 6 months. The promotion to grey belt should take approximately the same amount of time, with the IBJJF recommending that grey belts have a year’s experience.

After this the IBJJF recommends a year per belt. In reality you may find that gyms range from 8-14 months per belt rank.

Yellow belts

  • Belts included: Yellow + White Bar / Yellow / Yellow + Black Bar
  • Minimum age: 7 years old
  • Average time to receive Yellow + White belt: 4 years training
  • Average promotion time per belt: 12 months

Orange belts

  • Belts included: Orange + White Bar / Orange / Orange + Black Bar
  • Minimum age: 10 years old
  • Average time to receive Orange + White belt: 7 years training
  • Average promotion time per belt: 12 months

Green belts

  • Belts included: Green + White Bar / Green / Green + Black Bar
  • Minimum age: 13 years old
  • Average time to receive Green + White belt: 10 years training
  • Average promotion time per belt: 12 months

This is the most senior rank. If you are an adult and you see a 15 or 16 year old with one of these belts you should take their skills seriously. They often have as many years of experience as an adult black belt would have!

BJJ kids belts promotion

Stripes

Stripes are a frequently misunderstood part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the kid stripes system is unfortunately even less clear than the adult system.

First, it is important to emphasize that the IBJJF does not recognize stripes for any rank below black belt. Stripes are merely a tool for students to help track their progress between ranks but do not in fact represent meaningful promotion! That doesn’t mean that stripes aren’t important in their own way as they show students that a coach recognizes their growth.

Within the adults ranks it is typical to receive 4 stripes per belt, although some schools completely skip using stripes. According to the IBJJF’s suggestions kids on the other hand may receive as few as 2 stripes per rank or as many as 11! The IBJJF recommendation for stripe promotion ranges from receiving a stripe every 4 months, every 3 months, or monthly. To make this even more confusing, this means that the IBJJF system doesn’t include a 4 stripe progression system like the adults rank does.

The best way to understand the stripe system your gym uses is to ask your coach! At the end of the day each gym has their own time frame and standards for stripe promotions.

FAQs

How many Jiu Jitsu belts are there for kids?

Including white belt, there are 13 kids Jiu Jitsu belts.

Who can give belt promotions?

According to the IBJJF, only black belts may award belts to children. The IBJJF allows for purple and brown belts to perform promotions in countries that fall below a certain number of black belts – however, as time goes on that is a smaller and smaller list.

Many gyms without black belts will promote children – this is a relatively common practice and is less contentious than adults being promoted by less senior coaches.

What is the minimum amount of time children must spend at each rank?

The IBJJF does not require children to spend a particular amount of time at each rank in order to be promoted. Some smaller organizations, like the NABJJF, require 8 months in each rank.

How do kids transition to adult belts?

When children turn 16 they are supposed to be transitioned to adult ranks. White belts remain white belts, while grey through orange are promoted to blue, and green belts are promoted to either blue or purple. 

According to the IBJJF this process should happen automatically, but in practice many coaches will keep students at their current rank until they decide they are ready for a promotion to either blue or purple.

How much do stripe or belt promotions typically cost?

The vast majority of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms do not charge for promotions. You may be responsible for paying the cost of the new belt but testing or promotion fees are an uncommon and unpopular policy.

Kids Jiu Jitsu

Conclusion

Belt ranks in BJJ are generally good indicators of someone’s grappling prowess and the kids jiu jitsu belts ranking system is no exception. While promotions come more quickly for children, they have far more belts to progress through and age requirements prevent students from advancing too quickly.

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