The Brazilian jiu-jitsu belt system is not perfect, but it shows the proud traditions of the martial art and still presents tangible goals for practitioners. While the blue belt is the first one you earn, the purple belt signifies you are entering the advanced ranks, which fewer people achieve. But how long does it take to get there?
For most people, the journey from white to purple belt takes between 4 and 6 years, or around 2 years, as a blue belt. Some can do it quicker, while others must wait longer, depending on many variables. The best way to shorten the period is by consistently training hard and behaving in a manner fitting for a genuine purple belt.
While each practitioner has their unique journey, there are some common things everyone will experience on the way to and as a purple belt, and I have tried my best to encompass them in this article.
Most people’s journey to a purple belt takes about 4 to 6 years. This time can vary greatly depending on training frequency, athleticism, and prior grappling experience in other styles. But for most, 4,5 years is the norm, or otherwise, after 2 years as a blue belt.
The purple belt symbolizes the middle of the journey to black belt. As a purple belt, you are well beyond beginner levels but not yet quite advanced. By this time, you likely have a few competitions under your belt, even if you consider yourself a hobbyist.
The purple belt is a serious milestone few people achieve. We all know the trope of the blue belt quitting BJJ, so the purple belt symbolizes you have already passed one of the big separating points.
The time factor alone means you’ve spent 4, 5, or even 6 hard years on the mats before you earned the honor of wearing the purple. But don’t let this talk make you think it’s time to relax.
On the contrary, as a purple belt, you should go to the gym with renewed vigor and resolve and pursue higher goals. After all, purple is the midpoint to black, but the first-degree black belt has been said more than a couple of times to be the real starting point for a lifelong BJJ practitioner.
As a purple belt, you will now be qualified to teach lower-rank practitioners. This new role is exciting but also places new responsibilities before you, which should be fully embraced. Do not think of instructing as a sacrifice of your own training time.
Learning how to convey information will have beneficial effects on your execution as well. You may have a high success percentage with Kimura locks, but a white belt may surprise you with a question that forces you to dive deeper into the mechanics of the move and become even better with it yourself.
BJJ Purple Belt Requirements
BJJ belt promotions are done entirely based on the considerations of the instructor, so they can vary a lot from academy to academy and instructor to instructor.
For some, entering competitions is important for promotions; for others, proper behavior is crucial. Others may want to see specific technical and tactical qualities before they promote a pupil to a higher rank. Still, most commonly, it’s a combination of all those factors needed for a promotion.
The only sure way to reach a purple belt or any other goal in jiu-jitsu is to be consistent. Known to have one of the hardest progression systems in martial arts and being as complex as it is, BJJ has always been a marathon, rewarding only those in it for the long game.
Train as much as you can, and you will progress. Life happens to all of us, and not all periods will allow us to train as much as we like, but unless there are serious reasons, never skip practice just because you feel like it.
Three or four mat sessions a week, in addition to a couple of strength and conditioning sessions, is a reasonable schedule to strive for. Remember that purple belt goals aim high and need consistent effort to be reached.
Solo training at home, running, swimming, and other things can help you complement your primary training at a more convenient time, and it’s a great tactic. I’ve used it my entire “career” in martial arts to catch up on missed gym sessions. Not to mention, the variety is refreshing and can prevent burnout.
Focus is something sorely lacking in today’s world. Luckily, grappling puts obstacles in front of us that are difficult not to focus on, but still, a conscious effort is needed to focus on everything you do in the academy. Listen to the instructor, analyze, and focus on every repetition and every roll to learn something. This way, progress will come much quicker.
Ask For Guidance
Many others have crossed the path from blue to purple, and they know your struggle well. Ask your seniors what it takes and how to improve faster. Ask your professor or instructor what the rough guidelines are for promotion; after all, he makes the final decision.
Online advice can also be beneficial. The beauty of the online age is that we have all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, and there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of it. However, always remember that your personal situation is unique, and only the people you train with may give you the full answers.
Purple Belt Goals
No gi BJJ is building more and more traction as most of the highest-level grappling competitions and stars reside in no-gi, making the belt system less relevant. But for many people, they remain an important measure of progress and the link connecting BJJ to its roots and traditions. For those people, the purple belt remains a significant milestone.
Earning a purple belt is a well-deserved honor but also a responsibility. If you’ve reached this level, you likely have further goals, whether coaching, competing, or pursuing jiu-jitsu as a lifestyle. Each of those will require a new level of commitment to your training and development of knowledge.
After you’ve built solid fundamentals during the white and blue belt days, you will likely experience a more significant individual adaptation as a purple belt. You will start piecing things together and building your personal style.
Some techniques and concepts will click better, and you will start favoring them. Analytical and self-reflection skills also improve as time progresses, and you will spot your weaknesses easier, knowing what needs work and improvement.
The higher the skill level, the more conditioning becomes important. Rolls at higher levels can be very competitive, and winning is important, not just focusing on learning, which is the standard advice for beginner rolling.
To execute your style fully, you will always need a sufficient gas tank, so if you haven’t yet started to implement strength and conditioning work in addition to BJJ training, this is the right time to do it.
Usually, the time for a BJJ practitioner to reach the first advanced level, symbolized by the purple belt, is between 4 and 6 years. This time can vary depending on many factors, like training frequency, athleticism, and the instructor’s promotion criteria. Once you are there, consider it an honor, and train with even more intensity and focus to reach even higher goals.