White Belt for… 5 Years???

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How long does it take for someone completely new to BJJ to get their blue belt?

It totally depends on what their sports/martial arts background is and how often they train.


I think most people get their blue belt after 1-2 years of practice if they train regularly and hard enough (like three times or more per week). Perhaps three years at most.

I’ve mentioned this before, but beginners these days have much better & more learning resources available to them.

YouTube, online instructional videos, senior training partners, black belt instructors… these things weren’t available easily before.

Now you can watch high-level matches almost immediately after these matches took place… without buying illegally recorded & packaged videotapes/DVDs either. (It was fascinating when On The Mat released their “101 Submissions” DVD series… it contained submission highlight videos of high-level competitors at that time along with punk/rap songs. I don’t remember how much these DVDs were, but perhaps around 30 USD or something?)

So, if you use these resources (including your coaches and senior training partners) effectively, you can definitely speed up your learning process these days.

By the way, I was a BJJ white belt for about five years.

There’s a reason for that as well, and no, I didn’t ask my coach to promote me persistently. (Asking for promotion may put you on the bottom of your coach’s promotion list. Some coaches may not care at all, but I think most do… so, don’t do it. It’s much better to ask how you could improve anyway.)

Long story short, I started practicing BJJ in one town (in Australia) and moved to another city (again in Australia) where there was only one BJJ gym at that time. It was a bit far away from my place and inconvenient to go there.

So, I decided to take up Judo instead, though I always identified myself as a BJJ guy even when I only had six months of BJJ training… which had been given by my first BJJ coach. He was a blue belt, by the way.

To be precise, I think I had proper BJJ training for six months in my first Australian town, and then about another six months or so of training by my Japanese coach (Tatsuya Onose) when I was back in Japan in 2007.

I kinda consider the four years between these two 6-month periods to be my BJJ self-study/Judo years… and still do include them in my years as a BJJ white belt.

Was I desperate about getting promoted to a blue belt? Not so much. Partly because I decided to focus more on my skills than the color of my belt. And partly because… perhaps it was still rare enough to see colored belts compared to what it’s like these days.

And on that note, I think I was a blue belt for four years, a purple belt for three years, and a brown belt for three years? Something like that. (Me not being in Japan at all partly contributed to the lack of promotion at times, but I actually feel I’m a slow learner after all.)

The moral of the story?

Don’t worry about the color of your belt. Really.

Keep learning as always.