BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU BELTS: THEIR MEANING AND HISTORY

Posted on May 13 2019

BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU BELTS: THEIR MEANING AND HISTORY

Could you think about something more representative for the BJJ world than a Black Belt? The “Faixa Preta” (in Portuguese) is the most desired goal for most of the Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Whether you are a casual user or a high performance athlete, everybody wishes to carry this iconic element around their hips. It’s a symbol of discipline, knowledge, bravery and so many other adjectives that develops a Jiujiteiro through his path on the arte suave, but why a belt? What do they mean? Where they come from? Well, the answer may be as mystic and intriguing as the origin of the jiu-jitsu itself.

In the martial arts scene, there is popular belief that originally the belt was used to keep the Kimono tight to the body, so a thin strap was enough for the job. Eventually was considered proper to use a white leash that represented purity and simplicity of the disciples. As time passed by the white would become dirtier and wasted because of the extensive training sessions and usage, ultimately looking black. In the second half of the XIX century, Jigoro Kano, the initiator of Judo, created a two-color belt system for his discipline; white for the overall participants and black for the more experienced ones. In 1935, the Judoka Mikonosuke Kawaishi thought that the gap between black and white belts was too wide, and decided to develop a multi-color belt system to stimulate his white belt students, since they were lacking of motivation when beaten by more advanced black belt training partners. Finally these belt system traditions percolated into Jiu-jitsu and so many other martial arts.

Nowadays, exists five popular belts known for Jiu-Jitsu; white, blue, purple, brown and black belt. But there are other less trendy ranks for the younger warriors under sixteen years: the gray, yellow, orange and green belt. Many people believe that the black belt is the final achievement, but reality is that the Faixa Preta is just the beginning of the journey, the Coral and the Red belt are available for the most committed grapplers, so if you invest more than 30 years after earning your black belt you may be rewarded with the best of the best.

Each belt in the multi-color graduation system in BJJ represents a different phase physically, technically and mentally for the martial artist, so is very important to live and squeeze each of this stages through the evolution on the mats. Let’s take a quick review on the meaning of each color:

White Belt: the first and the most important one, since it will set the bases of your whole career as a warrior for the noble cause. It means purity and innocence, the elements that portrays somebody stepping a tatame for the first time.

Gray Belt: denotes that your white belt has started to get dirtier and wiser, and shows your training partners that you can handle the basics.

Yellow Belt: is the sun rising in the morning, a new beginning and the opportunity to keep moving forward no matter what happens. It represents change.

Orange Belt: as the day passes by, the solar rays get more intense and get to heat the earth, same as the soil gets heated by the sun, the disciple will be more demanded by his “Mestre”.

Green Belt: this color means hope and calm, represents the nature expanding and intensifying. It means growth. The ones that carry this belt should be ready to face their inner jungle.

Blue Belt: the colors of the sky, the place were almost everything tends to grow without be able to touch it. It means assurance, security and the promise that you are walking in the right direction with knowledge and humbleness.

Purple Belt: this color is the mix between red and blue, and it denotes advanced technique comprehension, as a martial artist that is ready to commit his life to jiu- jitsu. The basic principles of equity and ethics are enhanced for good in this belt.

Brown Belt: this belt is the mixture of black and red, and it literally means “solid as soil”, stiff and unbreakable as a rock and represents maturity. Firm knowledge like tree roots that will remain in the long run for good.

Black Belt: is the unity of all colors, it represents resilience and love for the art and that his carrier is ready to teach and dedicate his life to other ones.

Coral Belt: it has two colors, red and black, and represents exactly that, the mix between the two final stages of the art.

Red Belt: the hottest color, life, fire and passion, the three elements that are required to get to this point. Congratulations, you are a legend of the Arte Suave!

References:

  • BJJFANATICS / “Você Sabe Qual O Significado De Cada Cor Das Faixas No Jiu Jitsu?” /
  • BJJFANATICS / “Entenda A Origem Das Faixas No Jiu Jitsu” /
  • International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) / “Graduation System” /

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