Every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner has wondered how long it takes to get a brown belt. Even as white belts, when this phase seems so far flung into the future, we would like to know how long it takes, at least on average.
For most people who achieve a brown belt in the first place, it happens after 6 to 10 years of consistent BJJ training. This period can be shorter, but for most regular people who are not prodigies or cannot train six times a week, 8 years is a realistic timeframe.
The brown belt is the final stage before the coveted black belt, representing a high level of BJJ skill, knowledge, and experience. But how long does it take to achieve this rank, and what are the requirements and expectations for a brown belt?
How Long Does It Take To Get A BJJ Brown Belt?
The honest answer is that for each person, the journey is different and depends on several factors:
- Personal goals and motivations
- Physical and mental attributes are inborn and developed
- Your previous martial arts background
- The lineage and affiliation of your gym and instructor
- The frequency and intensity of your training
- The curriculum and standards of your gym and instructor
When it comes to the time and intensity of training, this is an ever-changing variable determined by even more factors like work and family engagements, injuries, and others.
This is why the number of years it takes to reach brown belt can be between 6 and 10 years, which is not exactly a narrow window.
Jiu-jitsu is highly complex and known for its harsh belt system, which keeps you at one rank for years. This might be frustrating, but it’s also greatly rewarding once you finally reach the designation. And for many, the brown belt isn’t even in the plans. Why?
Because it takes a considerable amount of time and dedication, which few people have. Only about 3% of the people who start BJJ make it to brown belt, which is not bad.
This makes the belts so much more precious and gives the people who take the time and dedicate themselves enough the reward they deserve.
For some, this could happen in 3–5 years. Some have even gotten their black belt in less time, like BJ Penn, Vitor Ribeiro, Gunnar Nelson, Geo Martinez, and others.
But these are people born with a gift for BJJ who have also realized they have a knack for it, dedicated themselves, and found the right instructors at the right time in their lives.
Reading and watching such stories is amazing, but this is not achievable for most people. Even quick learners must train six times a week, often twice a day, to reach a high level as quickly as they do, and what about the rest of us who did not win the biology lottery?
For the average person training 2-3 times per week and eventually moving to 4 or even 5 in preparation for competitions, the time to reach brown belt is more like 7-8 years. Add a year or two if he had more serious injuries.
What Does The Brown Belt Represent
A brown belt in BJJ means you have reached a high level of skill and expertise. It means you have spent years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance learning and improving your skills to a level few get to.
To do this, you have had to overcome many challenges, failures, frustrations, and setbacks. If you have reached the brown belt level, you have undoubtedly developed passion and appreciation for BJJ, not only as a sport but as a lifestyle.
A brown belt also means you have more responsibilities and expectations as a senior student and as a role model for the lower belts. It means you must train hard, learn new things, refine your techniques, and challenge yourself.
But now is also the time to pass this knowledge on to your teammates. Many brown belts start to teach classes; some even open their own academies.
You are also an important member of your academy and will be expected to represent it with honor and integrity.
A brown belt is not the end of your BJJ journey but rather the beginning of a new chapter. Most people who have endured this far want to become black belts, and eventually, they do. After all, there is just one more step to go.
Competitive brown belts are often at the level of black belts, and the difference in skills is certainly indistinguishable for the average white and blue belt.
There have been more than a few brown belts winning major titles against black belts, so the gap, in many cases, is slim.
BJJ Brown Belt Requirements
BJJ rank progressions do not have a strong set of rules or uniformity. Each instructor and each academy have their own criteria and requirements for what it takes to reach each new step.
Then the IBJJF and other governing bodies have a minimum time competitors must spend at each belt, but this is only for competitors under their banner, meaning it only applies to some people.
This is why I can’t give you a specific list of requirements, but I can tell you the overall expectations for someone to be promoted and be considered a brown belt.
Skills and Technical Knowledge
A BJJ brown belt has well-rounded skills in all positions and can handle his own everywhere. At this level, it’s more about polishing the skills and creating a personal game around your strong sides.
You are no longer learning new moves; you already know hundreds of them. This is the time to improve them and implement existing knowledge more efficiently.
Ethics And Leadership
As a brown belt, you are a senior gym member and will be expected to act like one. This means handling yourself on and off the mats with integrity. You should show maturity, respect, and lead by example.
As I said earlier, many brown belts start to teach classes, which is a different challenge in itself because it requires you to break down techniques and concepts into their basic parts and explain them clearly.
If a brown belt contributes to the improvement of the academy, you can be confident his black belt promotion is coming sooner rather than later.
Participating in tournaments is not a requirement for promotion, but it sure helps. Competition is the best way to truly test your skills and mental fortitude, and most brown belts have been to at least a few tournaments, even if they aren’t actively competing.
They should demolish lower belts in the gym, hold their own against black belts, and be at least partially competitive. A brown belt should demonstrate technical efficiency, fluidity, creativity, and adaptability in sparring.
Even without regular competitions, a brown belt must overcome some challenges in the gym and be fiercely competitive on their way to a black belt.
One must meet no set requirements to be awarded a brown belt by an eligible instructor. Some places use a more structured approach, but they are rare.
If you put in the time and focus, you will develop the traits and qualities outlined above, even without overthinking them. The whole culture of BJJ will take you there; you just have to show up and do it with passion and focus.
A brown belt is a very high level in Brazilian jiu-jitsu few practitioners get to reach. For most people, it takes between 6 and 11 years, depending on the time they spend on the mats and many other factors.
If you are starting, don’t let this long period scare you; it’s worth it. And if you are nearing the brown belt but wonder what more you need to do, don’t worry and just stay on the path.