If you’re an expert in Martial Arts, you’ll opine that the most common question asked is “how long does it take to get a black belt in BJJ?”
The answer to this question is never simple and the time varies greatly from one athlete to another. It depends on at least 5 factors: age, weight, gender, talent, dedication, and coaching. Let’s analyze these factors:
How Long Does It Take to Get a Black Belt in BJJ?
While it is hard to pinpoint the exact time in which a person may get his or her black belt, there are some general directions when it comes to this question. The minimum time one has to invest in jiu-jitsu varies from 12 years if you are an adult man weighing around 200lbs, with an average talent for this sport, and training 2-3 times a week.
On the other hand, if you’re a young athlete, you’ll need no more than 8 years to get your black belt. Some magnificent athletes may become BJJ black belts in less time, but they represent an exception to the rule. On average black belt may take approximately 8-12 years to achieve the rank.
As an additional reference, we can count on Alliance Black belt Leonardo Vieira who claimed that it took him around 19 years to get his black belt, working 3 times a day and spending no more than a year and a half on each belt.
Choosing the Weight Class When You First Start BJJ
Another important question, is “how long does it take to get a black belt in BJJ if I’m competing?” There are no hard or fast rules here. It depends on your talent for jiu-jitsu. Moreover, it also depends on the weight you’ve chosen initially.
If you choose a lighter weight class, Rooster or Featherweight, you’ll have to work harder and fight more often than if you selected a heavier category like Cruiserweight or Heavyweight.
As with many aspects in BJJ, you’ll need to be patient if your goal is to get your black belt competing within less than 5 years since no scientific data can help us establish an exact timeline for this process.
Choosing the Right Belt When You Start Training Jiu-Jitsu
Maybe this question sounds somewhat strange at first; however, it’s not that weird when we take into account that some kids train jiu-jitsu and may get their blue belt in less than one year.
If you’re a young athlete (under 16 years) who has chosen to train jiu-jitsu for fun, this is not such an important question. However, if your goal is to become a professional BJJ athlete, it would be wise to opt for a black belt rather than getting stuck at the blue belt level.
Most BJJ academies do not have colored belts in kids’ divisions since they consider that these athletes are still too young. For instance, Stones BJJ academy does not promote any child under 9 years old to anything other than “white/yellow/orange.” There are no kids’ belts at this academy.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt in BJJ If I Have No Talent?
It takes longer to achieve your black belt if you can’t rely on talent. However, it is still possible even without natural predispositions. You’ll need to train harder and fight more often than any other athlete at your division’s level. But don’t worry; there are some ways for you to become extraordinarily good at jiu-jitsu despite having no predispositions for this sport:
1) Train Harder Than Everyone Else
If you’re not naturally gifted with the capacity of becoming a world champion, then you have no choice but to work really hard to get closer to your goal. Your daily training schedule should be as demanding as any professional athlete’s.
2) Participate in a Lot of Tournaments
To become a good jiu-jitsu athlete, go to as many kids’ or adult amateur tournaments as possible and fight often. Keep it on the mat, even when you have no desire to fight. The more you train with people stronger than yourself, the better prepared you’ll be for your next tournament challenge.
Besides, competing will help you test your weaknesses and find ways to improve them before entering another competition. You can also keep track of your performance by measuring the number of medals you win from tournament to tournament throughout the year.
3) Go Train With the Toughest Guys You Can Find
Try to find some really tough athletes that are at least one weight class heavier than you are. You need to work with athletes who are more experienced and better than yourself so they can challenge your game by using their experience and knowledge against weaker opponents.
That way, you’ll be able to test new strategies against actual resistance, which will help you become a better fighter overall. You’ll also learn how to use their biggest advantages over you against them which is another great strategy for improving your performance level.
4) Train As Often as Possible
It would be really helpful if you lived close enough to the gym where you’re training jiu-jitsu full-time so you can go there every day and keep training. Since this is not always possible, it would be at least beneficial to visit the gym three times a week to get the most out of your time on the mat.
That way, you’ll be able to test new techniques and strategies against resisting opponents which will help you improve your game overall.
5) Pick One Position and Stick With It
As we previously mentioned, having no predispositions for a specific sport means you have to work harder than anyone else to be competitive against other athletes. Pick one position where you’re most likely to win your division’s fights and focus on developing your skills from that particular position only.
This is something easily done by focusing on videos, books, or specialized courses that deal exclusively with this one type of fighting style. You can also ask your instructor or teammates for some advice on how you can improve this aspect of your game more effectively.
Whether it’s a de la Riva guard (with the Gi), closed guard (without the Gi), or half-guard (again, without the Gi), finding ways of dominating opponents who are stronger than yourself helps you win more matches and improve your overall medal count.
6) Learn as Many Submissions as Possible
Since you’re training jiu-jitsu but you’re not born to be a great competitor, the best way of winning fights is by using every submission at your disposal even against stronger, more experienced opponents. Remember that smaller athletes can still tap out someone twice their size if they know how to lock in an effective choke or joint lock.
Learning submissions well enough to shut down other athletes’ games helps you gain confidence and greatly improves your chances of winning tournaments. It also makes training with people much better since you can easily submit them if they’re bigger than you are which will help you improve your game overall.
7) Train at Least One Takedown
Even though BJJ doesn’t have takedowns per se, there are some good ways of taking fighters down to the ground, so you can work on your jiu-jitsu game without having to worry about being taken down first.
Some good takedowns to learn include high-crotch single-leg, knee pick, and fireman’s carry for Gi training. Also, double leg or blast double leg will do just fine when training No-Gi or MMA where takedowns are allowed.
You need to know how to handle yourself on the ground against someone bigger than yourself. This gives you a huge advantage when training with people stronger than yourself since most of the time they’re used to taking people down before mounting or passing their guard to submit them.
8) Try New Things
Experimenting with new techniques is the best way of improving your game over time so don’t be afraid of trying stuff that might sound weird or not very practical at first. Sparring is the best way of testing theories out without suffering any real consequences if something goes wrong.
9) Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
Unlike world champion competitors who set out to win gold medals all the time, smaller athletes usually prefer to take things easy during training and focus on improving their overall skills. This doesn’t mean you should refuse to compete or stop trying new things.
As long as you constantly work on your game, you should be fine at most competitions. This is why it’s so important to constantly grind during training and try new stuff every day. This will greatly improve your chances of ending up with a medal when you finally compete against people who are just as good as yourself.
10) Don’t Limit Yourself
One of the most common mistakes smaller jiu-jitsu athletes make is that they choose their academies based on the size of their teammates rather than how good everyone is (compared to themselves).
For example, if you’re under 150lbs but train in an academy full of 170-190lb guys then there’s probably no point in joining that gym in the first place.
The best thing for you to do is find a gym full of people your size and weight so you can train with everyone equally during sparring instead of waiting until someone your size shows up. Even if that guy is tougher than anyone else in the gym, at least you’ll learn new techniques since everyone’s game evolves.
11) Train With Girls
Training with women might not give you an advantage when competing against them , but it will make any other guy feel like crap whenever he gets submitted by a girl.
If anything, girls usually have no idea what they’re doing when rolling with guys so it ends up being more of a showcase of athleticism on both sides rather than actual technique. Plus, having the big bad guy from your school roll with you will make everyone take things seriously instead of clowning around.
12) Train in Multiple Popular Academies.
One great strategy is to train at one of the most modern and innovative academies in your area. Of course, some academies are more open to new techniques than others. But there’s no reason not to give it a shot since it might end up working out for everyone involved.
13) Train at Home
Another great strategy is training at home (or outside your gym) as often as possible especially if you mostly train alone and don’t have much time during weekdays.
14) Train With Your Friends
The great thing about social media nowadays is that it allows us to connect with almost anyone in the world. If you have friends who are jiu-jitsu addicts, there’s no reason not to start training together.
If anything, having a training partner around all the time makes everything more fun compared to being alone and working on things by yourself even though the same techniques apply for both situations.
Just keep in mind that when training together, you should always try new stuff instead of playing it safe since watching each other’s backs is one of the greatest advantages of training with friends.
15) Train At Different Times
Another great tip is to train at different times instead of following the same schedule every day, which can get extremely boring. This boredom can also make you more prone to injuries/strains and giving your mind a chance to wander off.
The best way to do this is by keeping an open mind about what times are best for you (some people like early mornings while others prefer late afternoons) and then adjusting accordingly. Plus, waking up early always makes everything better since it feels like anything is possible throughout the rest of the day!
16) Train Every Other Day Instead of Every Day
While it might still sound somewhat risky, training every other day allows you to rest much better at night which in turn makes everything feel fresh again when it’s time for your next session.
Not only will this make training more fun but it will also help prevent injuries since everyone knows that resting is one of the best ways to heal your body. And while I know some people are itching to train every single day, you’ll eventually enjoy having a few days off even more than always being on the mats so keep that in mind!
17) Set Goals Instead of Just Focusing on Techniques
Finally, another great tip is setting realistic goals before each class or during private lessons. Ensure that your goals are much easier to achieve compared to simply teaching yourself a new technique and hoping for the best.
After all, having clear goals in mind will allow you to save lots of time while also giving your brain something new to work with which can also lead to increased confidence and other great benefits.
And don’t worry about being too specific since that’s one of the keys behind goal-setting since it enables your brain (and everyone else) to better understand where exactly everything is headed!
How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt In BJJ? Bottom Line
No, that’s not a typo. Getting a black belt in jiu-jitsu takes 8-12 years of consistent training with some people reaching it in less than 8 while others take more than 12 years.
If you’re serious about getting your black belt, you can’t afford to slack off at any point during this time and must also always train hard which isn’t an easy task when dealing with injuries or other stuff like work/family problems.
This is why many people start thinking about their goals months (or even years) in advance and follow the tips laid out in this article to achieve them. So what are you waiting for? Get on the mats!