BJJ Purple Belt Requirements: What It Means To Be a Purple Belt

November 27, 2023
Does having a BJJ purple belt just mean that you can start skipping warm-ups?! Check out the BJJ purple belt requirements in this article to see if you're ready for your promotion from blue belt to purple belt.

What does it mean to be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt? And what are the requirements that blue belts should be thinking about when they think they're ready to be promoted to purple belt?

This guide covers what it means to be a BJJ purple belt, from the expected timeline for promotion to the more technical requirements that are expected before a professor/instructor will consider promoting you.

Plus, you'll find 3 tips on how to be a better purple belt towards the end of the article. Check it out!

Getting promoted from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt to purple belt

The purple belt is the third stop in the BJJ belt system – after white and blue and before brown and black. Compared to the BJJ blue belt, who is still considered a beginner, the BJJ purple belt is considered to be an intermediate practitioner.

Below are answers to common questions about BJJ purple belts.

How long does it take to make the jump from blue to purple belt?

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) requires that a student be at least 16 years old to be promoted to purple belt. The IBJJF recommends that the student has trained for at least 2 years as a BJJ blue belt before being promoted to purple belt.

That said, there are a number of factors that are considered when professors/instructors are deciding if their students are ready for a promotion. Skill-level, technical knowledge, and performance in training are certainly important factors, but so are having a good attitude, training consistently over time, and competing in tournaments.

In theory, it could take someone anywhere from 3-5 years to go from white belt to purple belt.

What's required to be promoted to purple belt?

Besides being at least 16 years old and ideally having spent 2 years as a blue belt, there are no fixed requirements for being promoted to purple belt.

Instead, professors/instructors will draw upon a collection of factors to determine if you are ready to be promoted or not. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Knowledge of various positions
  • Knowledge of various submissions
  • Knowledge of defences and escapes
  • Performance in training
  • Performance in competitions
  • Attitude
  • Time spent training
  • Contribution to the art

How do you know when you're ready to be promoted to purple belt?

While the decision is ultimately up to your school's head professor/instructor, you might be ready to be promoted from blue belt to purple belt if you've been training consistently for about 2 years and you've shown some proficiency with more advanced techniques and positions. For example, maybe you are starting to have success playing open guard, or you're terrorizing the upper belts with straight foot locks or some other submission.

At this point, you've probably been through all of the major positions and submissions in jiu-jitsu. While you may not be a master of all of them, you've developed enough skill and knowledge that you have started to find positions and submissions that gel with your body type and personality, and they're allowing you to have success on a consistent basis in training.

Questions about promotions are always difficult to answer since everyone has a slightly different idea of what a purple belt should be able to do. In the end, it's best to trust your professor and in the meantime keep training hard!

Can purple belts teach classes?

It is very common for purple belts to begin teaching classes, especially beginner/fundamentals classes, or kids classes. Teaching can be a great way to learn more about basic positions/submissions since students will ask questions you may not have had to ask yourself.

In short, teaching can allow purple belts to refine/improve their own fundamentals since they will have to deconstruct and explain techniques to students. Also, white belts and blue belts may be able to relate better to a purple belt than to a black belt. Purple belts teaching classes is a win-win!

Can purple belts promote students?

A purple belt can promote students from white belt to blue belt, but not from blue belt to purple belt. If a purple belt student is responsible for teaching a beginner's class, for example, they would likely be responsible for giving white belt students stripes on their belts.

What does it mean to be a BJJ purple belt?

Meaning is subjective, and so each practitioner will have a slightly different take on what they believe it means to be a BJJ purple belt. Below are a few points that I believe apply to most BJJ purple belts.

The Intermediate-Advanced belt

There's a big difference between blue belt level and purple belt level jiu-jitsu. The purple belt practitioner understands the concepts that underly the major positions/techniques, and they use this understanding to their advantage to consistently beat lower belts. Similarly, this strategy can help purple belts to do quite well against higher belts. In fact, many purple belts have competitive sparring rounds against brown belts and black belts, perhaps even getting the better of these training partners every so often.

Receiving a BJJ purple belt is a big deal. You can finally say you're an intermediate practitioner. By the middle/end of your purple belt, you'll be considered an advanced practitioner.

White and blue belts learn how to defend and escape from most positions and submissions, but at purple belt, you've become extremely competent at preventing bad positions from occurring. When you do find yourself in bad positions, you've become incredibly effective with your defence and your escapes. This in turn allows you to develop more complex offensive sequences.

In sum, you're now a dangerous grappler (in a good way)!

The teaching belt

The purple belt is said to be the teaching belt. The blue belt is still a bit too new to be teaching adult classes, but the purple belt is in the ideal position to begin teaching BJJ beginners.

As mentioned above, not only is this teaching great for the students, as BJJ beginners will be able to learn from someone who was recently in their position but the school benefits as well, as less pressure is placed on the higher belts to teach all of the weekly classes. Also, teaching will help to refine the technique and knowledge of the purple belt, improving their game in the process.

Purple belts teaching classes is also important because it creates more of a connected, cohesive culture in the BJJ academy. More purple belts getting involved in the gym's day-to-day operations will make more blue belts interested in contributing, maybe by working at the gym's front desk or by helping with kids' classes. In general, this helps to create/maintain a positive environment in the BJJ academy among both students and professors/instructors.

How to be a better BJJ purple belt

Want to be a better BJJ purple belt than your training partners? Try these 3 tips to speed up your progress.

1. Develop a specialty position/submission

Fall in love with a particular position/submission and get really, really good at it.

"Oh, great, here comes the straight foot lock guy!" That's the kind of stuff you want to be hearing.

You'll notice that when your training partners know you for a specific position/submission, they may start overreacting or avoiding that position, which oftentimes opens up other routes for you to attack. When they defend those routes, you can return to your specialty position/submission.

2. Broaden your game

That's right – I'm recommending the exact opposite thing that I said you should do in the first tip. When you have a specialty position/submission, it won't take long for your regular training partners to pick up on your habits and start denying you access to your favourite grips.

Broadening your game will allow you to understand how to funnel your partner through other positions back into your specialty position/submission. Plus, you're never done learning/exploring, and so, even at black belt, you should always be seeking to broaden your game.

3. Help your fellow students

You're only as good as your training partners. If you're the best one on the mats, and nobody gives you a hard time in sparring, you're going to struggle to make serious improvements. One great way to ensure you continue to develop as a BJJ practitioner is to ensure that your training partners are also continuing to develop. Not only will they appreciate your help, but by helping your training partners to become better, they will then force you to become better as well.

Also, attitude goes a long way when it comes to promotions. Being a good teammate and a good student are huge factors in moving through the ranks.

How long does it take to get a BJJ brown belt?

The IBJJF requires a student to be at least 18 years old in order to be promoted from purple belt to brown belt. The IBJJF also recommends a student spend at least 18 months at purple belt before being promoted to brown belt.

So, in theory, it might take somewhere between 5-7 years to go from white belt to brown belt.

At that point, the IBJJF recommends a student train for at least 1 year before being promoted to black belt.

Think about that! A purple belt is only a few years away from being a black belt.

At white belt, the journey all the way to black belt seems almost impossible. Then you get your purple belt and realize the black belt is finally within reach!