One thing that is always inside the minds of every new white belts is how to become a BJJ blue belt.
It's a common and valid question for a good reason.
Earning a blue belt in BJJ is an important milestone for any white belt, signifying a fundamental level of proficiency in the art.
In this blog post, I will cover everything you need to know about how to become a BJJ blue belt.
From understanding the basics and developing your skills, to the requirements and tips for earning a blue belt, this post will serve as a comprehensive guide to help you achieve your first rank in jiu jitsu.
Whether you're just starting out or have been training for a while, this post will provide valuable insights to help you on your journey to becoming a BJJ blue belt.
So, let's dive in and get started.
Table of Contents
How to become a BJJ blue belt: general requirements
There is no universal standard that governs all BJJ schools on the minimum requirements needed for a blue belt promotion.
However, most BJJ schools generally have these requirements that students must meet before they can become blue belts.
#1: Understanding of BJJ self defense techniques
An example of a self defense technique in BJJ is how to close the distance against a swinging opponent.
Currently, there are two types of BJJ: self defense BJJ and sports BJJ.
However, the core of BJJ has always been in the self defense aspects.
Therefore, even sports-focused gyms usually put a heavy emphasis for their students to have solid self defense basics before they are eligible for a blue belt promotion.
Some of the self defense techniques you must master are defense against haymaker punches, how to take the fight to the ground, how to escape headlocks, how to address bear hugs and so on.
Your instructors will expect you to be able to defend yourself convincingly against an untrained person - regardless of size, strength and gender - during a real world self defense scenarios.
#2: Understanding of basic positional hierarchy and transitions
An example of attacking chains/combos: Kimura attack to butterfly sweep.
There are lots and lots of different positions in BJJ and transitions from one position to another.
A blue belt must show a basic understanding of the basic positional hierarchy and transitions.
Basic positions that a blue belt must understand are the guard, the side control, the knee on belly, the mount and the back mount.
A blue belt must understand the concepts behind those positions so that they at least know whether they are in danger or not.
For example, students who understand positional hierarchy will not try to go for a choke whenever they are in someone else's guard despite being on top.
In terms of offense, a blue belt should also understand how to transition from one position to another and also how to chain attacks and submissions.
#3: Know how to escape bad positions
How to use a wristlock attack to escape the bottom side control position. You can read more about this escape here.
To become a blue belt in BJJ, you must know how to escape from bad positions.
These positions include the bottom of mount, the bottom of side control, the bottom of knee-on-belly, and when your opponent controls you from behind.
You need to know at least two ways to escape from each bad position to earn your blue belt.
In fact, escaping from bad positions and defending against submissions should be your main focus during your journey as a white belt to the next rank.
#4: Know how to control a resisting opponent and apply submissions
Blue belts must be able to apply their submission techniques against resisting opponents by establishing a solid control over them.
A blue belt must have at least two submissions from each dominant position in BJJ and understand the concept of "position before submission".
This shows that the student has a solid grasp of the principles of BJJ and can execute them in real life.
#5: Competing is not mandatory
One of the most common misconceptions among white belts is that they think they need to compete to be promoted in BJJ.
However, in BJJ, competing is encouraged but not mandatory.
Most of the time, of course, students who regularly compete and win will earn their belts faster than those who do not.
The BJJ journey is unique to each individual, and your instructors understand this. Many of us have day jobs and other responsibilities outside BJJ that hinder us from competing regularly or training as intensely as the competitors in our gym.
And that's okay because your instructors will also consider other factors, such as dedication and hours on the mat, to promote their students.
Tips for earning your blue belt
Tip #1: Be patient and persevere
Patience and perseverance are essential qualities to have when pursuing a BJJ blue belt.
It is a long and hard journey with many ups and downs, but sticking to it is what separates those who become blue belts and those who do not.
In BJJ, you have to love being stuck.
When I was a white belt, I was the smallest guy in the class and one of the oldest.
Everyone smashed me during every roll, and I did not have my first legitimate submission for a whole year of training.
My first successful submission was only against a new white belt on his first day of training, anyway.
I can count on only my fingers the number of legitimate submissions I recorded as a white belt.
That is the reality of the journey from white belt to blue belt.
You must survive this journey first because the next journey from blue to purple is not getting easier.
Tip #2: Stay humble and shut the fuck up
Staying humble and open to learning is crucial for becoming a BJJ blue belt.
There is always room for improvement, so be open to feedback from your instructors and training partners.
Avoid being that annoying white belt who coaches others after only a few weeks of training.
Unless you have a high rank in judo or years of experience in other grappling arts like wrestling, you are not in a position to coach others as a white belt.
When your instructor demonstrates a technique, shut the fuck up and follow along.
Don't ask stupid smart ass questions that disrupt the class or annoy others.
Of course, it's okay to ask questions as long as they are valid and relevant.
For example, if you think a technique requires more flexibility than your body can handle, it's okay to ask your instructor for adjustments after the demonstration.
However, asking questions like "what if my opponent does A, B, C, D, and so on" is fucking annoying.
Your opponent can react in countless ways, and your instructor can't cover them all in one demonstration, dumb ass.
Fellow students, even white belts, know you just want to show off how "critical" and "smart" you are compared to others, and we fucking hate the "what if" guys.
Tip #3: Refine the basic techniques
Focusing on refining the basic BJJ techniques and not rushing to learn fancy new ones is another key tip.
It's better to have a small set of techniques that you execute well than a large set of techniques that you execute poorly.
I know that fancy and spiny techniques you see on Instagram and Youtube can be very tempting to try so that you can impress other students in the gym.
But if you do not master the basics first, you will never be able to properly pull off a berimbolo or a crazy back take from a pass.
Work on perfecting the fundamentals and then build upon that foundation.
What percentage of new BJJ white belts become blue belts?
Now, let's get some reality check and calculate your odds of becoming a blue belt if you are just starting out.
According to Rener Gracie, only 10% of new BJJ white belts can become blue belts.
And I have experienced this statistics first hand throughout my five years of training BJJ as of now.
When I started way back in March 2018, there were around 20 new white belts that joined within the next six months.
Only me and another white belt received our blue belts.
And every year I witnessed more or less the same statistics. For every 10 new white belts, only one of them makes it to blue belt.
Why do most white belts quit training BJJ?
So, by now you should have understood that the majority of white belts who start training BJJ will eventually quit before earning their blue belt.
There are several reasons why this happens, including:
Reason #1: Unrealistic expectations
Many people come into BJJ with unrealistic expectations of what the journey will entail.
They may have seen high-level competition matches or Instagram highlight reels and expect to be able to replicate those moves in their first few weeks of training.
When they realize that BJJ is a long and difficult journey, they become discouraged and quit.
Reason #2: Physical and mental exhaustion
BJJ can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially for new students who are not used to the level of physical activity or the mental focus required.
Students may become overwhelmed with the amount of information and techniques they need to learn, and the physical demands of training may cause them to feel burnt out.
Reason #3: Injuries
Injuries are common in BJJ, and some students may get injured early on in their training, which can be traumatizing and even prevent them from continuing their practice.
Reason #4: Time and financial constraints
BJJ requires a significant time and financial commitment, and some students may find it difficult to balance their training with work, school, or family commitments.
Others may struggle to afford the cost of training, especially if they need to purchase expensive gear or pay for private lessons.
If the cost of BJJ is the issue, I have written a post on how to spend more wisely for your training so you do not break the bank here.
Reason #5: Lack of progress
BJJ is a journey that requires patience and perseverance, and progress can be slow at times.
Some white belts may feel that they are not making progress quickly enough or that they are not improving as fast as they would like, which can lead to frustration and ultimately cause them to quit.
This is very unfortunate because if you feel you do not progress, it is most likely only in your mind.
Everybody progresses if they consistently train and your fellow practitioners can see that you do too.
But, for whatever reason, BJJ practitioners can be the harshest critics of themselves despite everyone else saying that they are actually progressing and improving.
How long does it take to become a BJJ blue belt?
As I mentioned earlier, there is no universal standard that governs BJJ schools in regards to belt promotions.
However, on average, it takes between one to four years to earn a blue belt in BJJ, depending on your training consistency and frequency.
Personally, I earned my blue belt in one year and nine months by consistently training three times a week, which I believe is the ideal minimum frequency.
I have yet to see a blue belt who trained only twice a week or less as a white belt.
To wrap it up....
In conclusion, earning a blue belt in BJJ is not an easy journey.
The blue belt is still considered a beginner's belt in BJJ but it also represents a significant achievement that requires a fundamental level of proficiency in the art.
There is no universal standard for blue belt requirements but most schools generally expect their students to demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamentals.
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