How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt (And Have it Stay Tied!)

06.10.2021 by

One of the unspoken criteria for being promoted is knowing how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt! Most promotions and stripes are given when the class lines up at the end of class, and there is nothing more awkward than a belt that looks like a macaroni noodle. You might be surprised to learn that there are multiple ways to tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt, this article will teach you the three most common ways! 

Standard Variation

Every knot discussed in this article can be used at any time, however, you might realize that some knots work better depending on the situation. For example, the standard variation knot is quick and easy to tie making it better for competitions when you only get a small amount of time to tie your belt when it comes loose. While dealing with the pressure of competition you’ll appreciate its ease.

The standard deviation knot is also the most common way BJJ practitioners tie their belts, and probably the first way you will be taught.

How to tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt using the Standard Variation Knot

1. First find the center of your belt, the space where both tails dangle evenly. Sometimes BJJ practitioners will even mark it with a black sharpie so they don’t need to find it every time they put it on. 

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Fold your belt in half to quickly find the center.

2. Pin this line on your belly button and gently wrap the belt around you like so: 

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3. Next bring one tail, generally the tail that’s the same side as your dominant hand, underneath both tails. So that you have a shape like this: 

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4. Bring the top tail over the bottom tail, forming an ‘X.’ Reach through the loop you’ve just created and grab the top tail, pulling it back through the loop. As you’re doing this, you might notice the bottom tail gets twisted. If this happens simply rotate it and make it flat to fit the rest of the belt.

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You’ll know that you’ve done it right because you’ll end up with a fortune cookie shape, like this: 

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New white belts are notorious for messing up the last step of tying this belt. Instead of bringing the top tail over the bottom tail, they do the opposite. This leads to the dreaded “macaroni look” where the tails face up and down rather than out to the sides. Don’t be this guy lining up. 

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Belts that look like this make coaches cry.

Some drawbacks to the Standard Variation BJJ Belt Knot

Early in your BJJ career, you will notice that this knot often comes undone during rolling. You may have even seen people just throw their belt aside after the end of a round because they are so sick of retying it. Although this knot does come untied often, it is the quickest way to tie your belt and one you should learn. 

The speed of tying it is an advantage in competition as you are only allowed 20 seconds to retie your belt. Arguably this knot’s seemingly magical ability to become untied is a boon in competition too as it may grant you precious seconds of rest if the referee directs you to re-tie your belt!

You also might notice that the way the belt is wrapped is visible on your back. Both tails are showing. This is normal and not a problem. However if you are curious about a way to tie your belt that looks a little cleaner, read on. 

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Even when properly done the standard variation will have this awkward overlap in the back.

The “Hollywood Style” 

If you don’t like the fact that the standard deviation has the two bands visible in the back, you are “knot” alone. Luckily there is another way to tie your belt that is better looking. 

How to tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt Hollywood Style

  1. Start by taking the end of your belt, at the very tip of either side and pin it to your back right at your spine.  
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  1. Next wrap the belt twice around yourself, so that you are only holding one tail in your hand. 
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  1. Send the tail underneath both layers of the belt, so you have a top tail. Just like in the standard deviation knot
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  1. To get the bottom tail, simply use your fingers and push the innermost layer of your wrapped belt out. You should have the same shape as the standard deviation knot.
Close-up of how to extract the second tail.
  1. Finish tying the same way you finish the standard deviation knot, bringing the top tail over the bottom tail and pulling tight.  

Some drawbacks to the Hollywood knot: 

The major drawback to this knot is that it can take longer to tie than the standard deviation. You should save it for special occasions, like belt promotions. It is not recommended you use this for competitions as you only have a small amount of time before incurring a penalty. 

The “Super Knot” 

One of the most annoying things about BJJ belts that you’ll quickly notice is how frequently they get untied during rolling. This knot is strong enough to stay tied during the most furious rolls; hence its name the “Super Knot.” 

How to tie a BJJ Belt so it won’t come undone, using the Super Knot.

  1. Beginning this knot is the exact same as the “Hollywood Style.” Take one end of the belt, and hold it over your spine. 
  2. Wrap the belt twice around yourself so that you are holding only one tail.
  3. Next, thread the tail under both layers of your belt so that it becomes the “top tail.” 
  4. Push the bottom tail out from under the two layers of your belt. 
  5. This is where the difference between this knot and the “Hollywood style” starts. You’re going to take your “top tail” and thread it through the two layers of your belt so it makes a loop. Like so: 
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6. Next, you’re going to take your bottom tail, bring it up, and feed it through the loop of the top tail, and you’re going to feed it through the two layers, just like the top tail.

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7. Now you can pull tight, the knot should look like this:

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Some drawbacks to the Super Knot

This is the knot I always use when I am training at the gym. However, the first time you tie it you might realize that it’s so tight it makes it difficult to breathe. If this happens, simply untie it, and take a big deep breath. Then tie the belt again and you should have some more room to breathe. 

Another drawback is even though the belt won’t come untied, it is possible for your lapel to slip through. If both your lapels slip out, you’re going to need to slip them back in. This may feel awkward but you will not need to retie your belt. 

In competition this knot’s reluctance to come undone can be a liability, giving your opponent a strong point of leverage and not giving you as many opportunities to rest by limiting the times a referee will instruct you to retie your belt!

Conclusion 

Tying your belt is a staple in the martial arts community. Once you do it right you’ve learned something valuable that you’ll be able to show other new white belts. It’s also something you’ll do for the rest of your BJJ career. Just like techniques in BJJ, the only way to master tying your belt is to practice and drill it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll start to perfect it!