Congratulations on achieving your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) blue belt! You might be wondering how long it will take you to move to the next level, the purple belt, as you continue to practice and get better. The process of upgrading in BJJ belt levels can change based on a variety of elements, including how frequently and consistently you practice, how skilled and committed you are, and the rules of the particular academy or organization you train with. However, a BJJ practitioner can acquire a purple belt in anywhere between 3 and 6 years on average. Remember that the journey and self-improvement should be the main emphasis and that the belt is only a representation of your accomplishments.
What is the Average Time to Get a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
In my experience, BJJ practitioners tend to earn their purple belt in about 3 to 6 years. In a survey of 63 BJJ practitioners, we found nearly 80% of those who responded got their purple belt within 5.5 years of starting training or about ~1,200 mat hours.
As you can see from the graph, it is also completely normal to take greater than 5.5 years to get a purple belt. With some taking greater than 7 years. Many factors can influence how fast you advance belt to belt. We explore those below.
Purple Belt Requirements
There are no exact requirements listed somewhere to determine when you should get your purple belt. As I discuss more below, it’s really dependent on your instructor’s philosophy. Generally, though, a purple belt should exhibit some, if not all, of the following traits:
- Strong ability to guard pass and retain their guard – especially against blue belts
- Consistently hit at least a few submission types in live rolling against white and blue belts
- Ability to instruct lower belts though beginner techniques
What Determines How Long It Takes to Get Your Purple Belt
There are a few crucial factors that will determine how soon you can get your purple belt. These include:
- Dedication to training
- Keeping fit and minimizing accidents
- Innate athletic potential
- Your gym and professor
It is essential to stress this. If getting your purple belt is your aim, you should practice BJJ at least three times each week or put in at least 4.5 hours of mat time to maintain your learning momentum. The sport requires too many complex skills and nuances for once or twice a week practice to provide appreciable results. This can be particularly difficult as you navigate the rocky waters of your blue belt. The blue belt blues are definitely a true phenomenon. Motivation dwindles a bit, life gets in the way more. The journey from blue to purple (assuming you started BJJ in your early to mid-twenties) often comes as responsibilities in your life grow making it harder or more strenuous to get to the gym so frequently.
What Can You Do If You Can’t Train Three or More Times a Week?
At the end of the day, most of us who do Jiu Jitsu are hobbyists. We’re not trying to win the world championship , we’re just trying to stay in shape and learn a great martial art. I’ve found the best way to deal with the blue belt blues( if you fall into that category) is to stop worrying so much about your belt and just enjoy the sport. Even though you may not have a ton of time to dedicate to training, you still like attending when you can and benefit from keeping your body active and leading a healthy lifestyle. It may be necessary for you to comprehend that earning your blue belt can take longer than usual, but that is completely OK. All that counts is that you are having a good time.
There are also ways outside the gym that can keep your progress moving forward, even if you can’t hit the mats like you used to. Viewing instructionals, exploring YouTube, taking notes, and maintaining a blog, you may also hasten your learning. You may also request private lessons from professors or instructors if you want to learn faster.
Health and Injuries
This is a significant issue that, regrettably, is both partially and completely beyond our control. Mat time equals growth, thus if an illness or injury prevents you from spending time on the mat, you won’t grow. Some injuries are unavoidable – a tear when rolling, a sprain when doing takedowns, etc. These injuries will keep you away from the mats and thus slow down your progress. External factors such as the COVID pandemic also slowed down the progress of many BJJ fighters.
To reduce your chances of injury, it is important to listen to your body. Many if not most injuries come from overtraining. Your body will be less resilient to injury if you don’t give it adequate rest. As a blue belt, you should have a better understanding of this as opposed to white belts who may be too obsessed with training. If not, remember that the sport of jiu jitsu is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s better to take two weeks off to allow an injury to recover than the train through it and make it worse – and shortening your BJJ career.
Where You Train and Your Professor
The individual giving out the belts—your instructor or professor—is one of the main determinants of when you get your next one. When it comes to promoting pupils, a professor may have an entirely different perspective depending on the school. Some teachers will only advance you when you have already mastered the skills required for the next belt. When you reach a certain ability level, some schools advance you immediately. Some have even odder regulations and won’t promote until you enter a competition at your current belt level.
If you change schools, even just once, that could also slow down your progress. When you enter a new program, the instructor or instructors at that school will need time to get up to speed on your abilities. In comparison, your original professor will have seen your progression to the current belt and have a keen understanding of how far you are from the next one. If you change schools, it would be normal to expect adding at least several months to your journey to your purple belt.
Is Getting Your Purple Belt Important?
I think all belts are important. In Jiu Jitsu in particular, any belt promotion is a serious accomplishment. No school hands out belts. The purple belt is particularly important because you’re officially in “upper belt” territory. You are no longer a novice at that belt level. You can argue as well that getting a purple belt is the first true mark of dedication to the sport as getting a blue belt only really requires 1 to 2 years to achieve whereas for your purple you’re putting in at least 3 to 6 years.
That being said, as with the pursuit of any belt, it should be secondary to the main benefits of the sport. We don’t train to earn a belt. We train to become physically fit, capable in self-defense and make some good friends along the way. The belt is just a signifier of how many skills you have accumulated in the sport. So if you caer about getting better, the belt is very important. But it’s secondary to improving and enjoying jiu jitsu.
What Happens After Your Purple Belt
Nothing should change too much when you get your purple belt. The blue belt blues and the phenomenon where many people quit isn’t as common at purple belt. Odds are, if you’ve made it this far, you’re in it for the long haul barring any major illness, injury or reason that prevents you from training. One big change that can happen at purple belt are that you can be looked at to teach classes. Purple belts are generally ready to teach lower belts and could be tapped to teach beginners classes at their schools. It is rare, but purple belts could even go ahead and open their own academy.
The rules in competition at purple belt are virtually the same as blue belt across all major organizations including IBJJF and Grappling Industries. Still can’t heel hook, knee reap or toe hold until you are a brown belt (at least in IBJJF)
If MMA is your ultimate goal, purple belt is often the place where mixed martial artists may transition to focusing more on a striking martial art. The purple belt denotes a high level of grappling experience. If you haven’t had a chance to dedicate time exclusively to developing striking, your purple belt may be the time to do it assuming you don’t care too much about getting your brown belt.