Originally posted - December 7, 2015
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a unique and distinct martial art; in that the belt grading system is much different than that of other combat systems. Always be cautious about those who claim to be BJJ Black Belts without any proper certification or training; this is a surefire way to learn improper technique and possibly injure yourself or others. Certain established organizations, such as the Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) and International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), established standards for BJJ belt grading several years ago. In BJJ, a practitioner should always start out as a white belt; the colour reserved for a student with little to no experience in combat grappling, who is unaware of the many positions available to a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.
Guidelines for belt graduation also vary by age. Typically those aged 4-15 will have many more degrees than a more traditional BJJ system which begins at age 16. Regardless of age, there are established ways to test your personal knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu. For example, competition is a great way to apply learned technique, and also helps to develop other core attributes along with grappling experience. Competition also introduced the concept of standardized ranking within a specific tournament format.
Although similar in aspects to traditional martial art grading arrangements, BJJ does not necessarily follow a linear time-pattern to determine belt promotions. There are certain amounts of time that each student must spend at a designated colour, but that doesn't imply you will receive a promotion immediately after your time prerequisite. There are various factors at play, especially depending on your instructor, which will determine your rate of advancement.