What Does The BJJ Red Belt Mean?

Last updated on 27.07.2023 by

The BJJ red belt is the highest rank that a BJJ practitioner can achieve. It takes a lifetime of dedication to be considered for the rank.

Check out our breakdown of the BJJ red belt and what all this rank represents. Going through its meaning, the time it takes to get one, and list the handful of grapplers that earned the belt. If you are interested in learning more about all Jiu Jitsu belts, make sure to check our in depth guide on the BJJ Belts Ranking System.

What is a BJJ Red Belt?

BJJ Red Belt

A BJJ red belt is the highest rank a jiu jitsu practitioner can achieve. It is the 9th degree in black belt ranks, followed by the 10th degree reserved for grandmasters. 

How Many Years Does it Take to Earn a Red Belt in BJJ?

It takes nearly fifty years to be considered for the BJJ red belt rank. Between each BJJ dan rank, there is a waiting period, which increases as your rank increases.

Jiu Jitsu Red Belt
  • First Degree: 3 Years
  • Second Degree: 3 Years
  • Third Degree: 3 Years
  • Fourth Degree: 5 Years
  • Fifth Degree: 5 Years
  • Sixth Degree: 5 Years
  • Seventh Degree: 7 Years
  • Eighth Degree: 7 Years
  • Ninth Degree: Over 10 Years

How Hard is it to Earn a Red Belt in BJJ? 

The BJJ red belt is the hardest rank to achieve in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It takes a lifetime of dedication to earn.

Statistically, only a few select BJJ practitioners will live to achieve this rank. This makes the rank one of the hardest ranks to earn in all martial arts.

How Many BJJ Red Belts Are There? 

In total, between the 9th and 10th degree ranks in BJJ, there are currently 57 practitioners that earned a red belt. Fifty current members hold the 9th-degree red belt, and the 7 grandmasters at the 10th-degree rank.

The 10th-degree rank is reserved for the martial art’s grandmasters. Practitioners can only possibly earn the 9th degree rank.

What’s the Difference Between a BJJ Red Belt and Coral Belt?

Some new to grappling may be confused with the red and coral belts. The BJJ coral belts are the 7th and 8th ranks of the high ranks in Jiu Jitsu.

It takes over thirty years of training to reach the coral belts and nearly twenty more to reach the red belt.

The List of BJJ Red Belts 

Grandmaster Jiu Jitsu

Fifty BJJ practitioners in the history of the martial art have earned the 9th-degree red belt. Here is the list of those practitioners that earned the rank.

The 10th Degree Grandmasters

For the sake of completeness, here are the seven grandmasters that hold the 10th Degree Red Belt.

  • Carlos Gracie Sr.
  • Hélio Gracie
  • Gastão Gracie
  • Oswaldo Gracie
  • George Gracie
  • Luiza Franca
  • Oswaldo Fadda

Luiza Franca and Oswaldo Fadda are the only non-Gracie grandmasters. They were awarded their ranks posthumously.

The 9th Degree Grandmasters

Pedro Hemeterio

Pedro Hemeterio was one of the first students of Grandmaster Helio Gracie. He would go on to run his own BJJ academy for decades until his death.

Joao Alberto Barreto 

One part of the famous Barreto brothers was an original student of Helio Gracie. Barreto would spend nearly his entire life teaching jiu jitsu.

Oswaldo Fadda

Oswaldo Fadda was one of the most influential non-Gracie masters. Fadda’s lineage would lead to the development of numerous non-Gracie BJJ affiliations.

Alvaro Barreto

Alvaro was one of the famous Barreto brothers that established Equipe Barreto. One of the first BJJ schools that was not ran by a member of the Gracie family.

Carlson Gracie 

The legendary Carlson Gracie is considered one of the best fighters and teachers of the Gracie family. Carlson won numerous championships and trained many more along with establishing Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. 

Rorion Gracie 

Rorion Gracie helped establish the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California. He is also responsible for creating the UFC and helping spread BJJ worldwide.

Carly Gracie

The very first Gracie to teach jiu jitsu in the US. Something that Carley does not get enough credit for.

Relson Gracie 

A 22x BJJ champion who would go on to establish the Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu affiliation. Relson lives in Hawaii and has been a lifelong surfer.

Rickson Gracie 

The most recent recipient of the prestigious BJJ and considered one of the best practitioners ever. Claiming to have never lost a fight in his life.

Rolls Gracie 

The legendary Rolls Gracie was the family’s champion. He was considered the best of the family until his life tragically ended in a hand-gliding accident.

Reyson Gracie 

Resyon Gracie was the third son of Carlos Gracie Sr. He is responsible for introducing jiu jitsu into the Brazilian state of Bahia in northeast Brazil.

Reylson Gracie 

Helo’s son was the first of his sons to open their own BJJ school in 1974. He also calls the back choke a mata-leao(rear naked choke).

Robson Gracie

Robson Gracie was considered to be one of the most courageous of the Gracie brothers. He lived a full life as a fighter, political prisoner, and later chairman of a jiu jitsu federation. 

Sergio Barreto 

Sergio Barreto is the youngest of the famous Barreto brothers, who are all BJJ red belts. He spent a lifetime. at his academy with a reputation for excellence.

Wilson Mattos

Wilson Mattos is an original student of Master Oswaldo Fadda. He has been teaching at his academy Equipe Mestre Wilson for nearly fifty years now.

Pedro Valente Sr. 

A famous Brazilian plastic surgeon who was a student and good friend of Helio Gracie. Valente Sr. had been a BJJ practitioner for over sixty years before his passing in 2016.

Francisco Mansor 

One of the very first non-Gracie to receive his red belt directly from Helio Gracie. Master Mansor is known for opening the famous Kioto BJJ academy.

Armando Wridt 

One of the seven BJJ red belts to have been awarded the rank personally from Helio Gracie.

Renato Paquet

Renato Paquet was not only a BJJ red belt but also a champion boxer and Judo black belt. One of the most successful sportsmen in the history of Brazil

Luis Carlos Guedes de Castro Carlos 

He is the only BJJ red belt to have received his red belt from Master Carlso n Gracie.

Antonio Rosado 

Antonio Rosado was the youngest recipient of the BJJ red belt. He was awarded the rank by Carson Gracie. 

Flavio Behring

Flavio Behring is the owner of the highly respected Behring Jiu-Jitsu affiliation. He is a multi-time champion and has taught BJJ for over six decades. 

Ricardo Murgel

The first BJJ practitioner to receive his red belt from Flavio Behring.

Marcus Soares

Marcs Soares helped introduce BJJ into Canada and was an original student of Carlson Gracie.

Francisco Sa

Francisco Sa introduced BJJ into the Sierra region of Brazil. He would move to the region in the 1960s and open his own jiu jitsu school.

Geny Rebelo

A student and friend of Helio Gracie, who opened the famous Serrana Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

Oswaldo Paqueta

A close friend of Carlson Gracie, that practiced the martial art for over sixty years. 

Derval Luciano Rego 

Derval Luciano Rego helped Carlos Gracie establish the CBJJ jiu jitsu affiliation that would later evolve into the IBJJF.

Geraldo Flores

One of the first non-Gracie students who helped establish the martial art in northern Brazil.

Jose Higeno 

Jose Higieno was an early student of the Oswaldo Fadda lineage who would go on to be a fighter and teacher.

Paulo Mauricio Strauch

One of Caio Terra’s instructors, who was an original student of Reylson Gracie

Osvaldo Alves

A Judo champion and wrist lock expert who helped establish BJJ in Brazil’s Amazon region.

Nahum Rabay 

A famous Brazilian musician and student of Grandmaster George Gracie.

Helio Vigio 

A BJJ student since the 1950s, who fought in Vale Tudo and later became a famous referee in Brazil.

Deoclecio Paulo

A student of Oswaldo Fadda that practiced had practiced BJJ since the 1940s and still teaches.

Crezio Chavez

An undefeated Vale Tudo fighter who established the first BJJ school in the city of Petropolis.

FAQs About The BJJ Red Belt

What Rank is the BJJ Red Belt? 

The BJJ Red belt is the ninth-degree rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s the highest rank that a BJJ practitioner can possibly achieve.

How Long Does it Take to Earn w BJJ Red Belts? 

It takes around 50 years to meet the requirements to earn a BJJ red belt. You may also face the politics of more senior red belts, who have to permit new promo-tees to red belt.

Can You Earn a 10th Degree Red Belt?

No. The 10th-degree rank is reserved for those that helped create Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

How Many Jiu Jitsu Practitioners Have Earned a 9th Degree BJJ Red Belt? 

There are currently 50 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners that have earned the 9th degree rank. We will gradually see more added to the list in the future.

What is the Likelihood of Earning a BJJ Red Belts? 

The likelihood of you earning a BJJ Red belt is very low. It’s probably something that will never happen in your lifetime.

Final Thoughts

The BJJ bed belt is the highest honor that you can receive in the martial art. It takes a lifetime to achieve, and it’s a special event when one is given. 

Pick their brain if you ever get the honor of meeting a BJJ red belt. They’re a wealth of knowledge that have forgotten more about BJJ than you know.