Becoming A Purple Belt in Jiu Jitsu

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Introduction

a pencil drawing of two grapplers

A Brief Explanation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. BJJ has its roots in Japanese Judo, but was further refined in Brazil in the early 1900s, and has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world. BJJ promotes the idea that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a larger and stronger opponent through the use of technique and leverage. As Jiu Jitsu fighters, we specialize in disabling joints until we have the opportunity to attack the neck, and render our opponent unconscious.

The Importance of Belt Ranking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In BJJ, practitioners are organized into a ranking system that is based on the color of the belt they wear. The colors range from white to black, with purple being the third level between blue and brown. As practitioners progress through the belt system, they acquire a greater level of expertise and knowledge in BJJ and are awarded a new belt to show their skill. Check out our Article on the belt system for more information.

The Purpose of Today's Article

The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed overview of what it takes to become a purple belt in BJJ. I will discuss the requirements, techniques, and strategies that are necessary for achieving this rank, as well as provide tips and advice for those looking to achieve a purple belt in BJJ.

A Brief Overview of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt System

a pencil drawing of two female grapplers

Achieving a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an impressive accomplishment that requires dedication, skill, and knowledge of the art. In this section, we will provide an overview of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt system, including a description of the belt colors, the requirements for each belt promotion, and the differences between the adult and childrens belt systems.

Description of the belt colors

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt system is comprised of four different colored belts (5 including white belt), each representing a different level of expertise. These belts, in order of lowest to highest rank, are white, blue, purple, brown, and black. A purple belt is the third rank in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt system and the the first of the three “upper belts”.

Requirements for each belt promotion

Achieving a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires dedication and a deep understanding of the technical and tactical aspects of the art. To be promoted from a blue belt to a purple belt, practitioners must demonstrate a proficient understanding of the positional hierarchy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, demonstrate advanced technical ability, and have a history of competition or selfdefense experience. There is a metaphor that I like to use which I can attribute to Jay Jack of The Academy Maine. Think of Jiu Jitsu as a language to be learned. White belts are learning vocabulary, while blue belts are learning to compose sentences and phrases. Purple Belts are able to create paragraphs that start standing, go to the ground on his terms, then investigate a few problems on his way to reaching an obvious conclusion.

Distinguishing the Kid's System From the Adult's Belt System

In contrast to the adult’s system, the kid’s belt system is designed to be less rigid and more focused on recognizing continuous training and attitude with incremental progress. There are strict age requirements for each belt as recognized by the IBJJF, and there are no black belts for children, and the time frames for achieving each belt are much shorter than for adults. Some schools do in fact offer a “Jr. Blackbelt”, which is controversial, and not “officially” recognized by the IBJJF.

Requirements For Purple Belt Promotion

an image of a man being promoted to purple belt

Time Spent at Blue Belt

The minimum time in training as a blue belt typically varies from one academy to another, but a general rule of thumb is that a student should spend at least two years as a blue belt before being eligible for promotion to purple belt. Additionally, it is important that the student has been consistent in their training throughout their time as a blue belt, as it is an indication of their dedication and commitment to the art. Competitive acumen is also an important factor for promotion. Practitioners who choose to compete will always be promoted more quickly than those who do not, especially those who do well.

Technical Knowledge and Proficiency

In order to be promoted to purple belt, a student must demonstrate a high level of technical knowledge and proficiency in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This includes the ability to execute a variety of techniques with good form and technique, as well as an understanding of the concepts and principles of the art. At lower levels, it is acceptable to have only one or two techniques at your disposal in order to navigate a grappling match. At purple belt, the student must be able to deploy a variety of techniques against a variety of opponents, of differing skill levels.

 

Earlier in the article, we compared Jiu Jitsu to the composition of language. Metaphorically speaking, the purple belt practitioner is able to write a comprehensive essay, while compared to the black belt who is capable of communicating his argument on a poetic level. More tangibly put, the purple belt must be competent on their feet, and go from start to finish in a smooth, fluid manner.

Consistency and Dedication

In addition to technical proficiency, a student must also demonstrate a strong level of consistency and dedication to their training. This involves regular attendance at classes, as well as a willingness to push oneself and progress in their training. The running joke about purple belts is that they always skip warm ups, or never show up for drilling and only are around to train live. While certainly a caricature, the purple belt must avoid becoming the embodiment of this stereotype. If you are keen to skip drill class, good luck making it past blue belt any time soon.

Competition Experience

A photo of BJJ girls on the podium

Competition experience is another important factor in achieving a purple belt. While it is not a requirement for promotion, competing in tournaments is a great way to test one‘s skills, build confidence, and gain experience in a live setting. BJJ Competitions are intense. Much more intense than even the hardest rolls at the gym.

Personally, I dislike competition. That being said, I make sure that I compete at least once a year. In competition, a month’s worth of training is distilled into a single afternoon. There are probably complex neurological reasons for this, but said plainly, the stress and adrenaline of competing makes the lessons learned carved in stone.

Attitude and Character

Finally, in order to be promoted to purple belt, a student must demonstrate strong character and attitude. This includes showing respect for the instructors, being humble and open to learning, and maintaining a positive attitude throughout their training. It is also the moment in which it becomes imperative that training becomes an unselfish endeavor. At this point, you should have enough skill to reliably take care of the lower belts, and meet them where they are in their training, while still improving your skills.

Skills and Techniques Expected of a Purple Belt

Two girls competing in jiu jitsu

As a purple belt, it is expected that you will have a deep understanding of the fundamental jiu jitsu techniques. This includes a thorough knowledge of grips, control positions, and the principles of leverage. It is also important to have a good grasp of the different guard positions and their respective transitions. It is also important that you have mastered the fundamentals of defense and protecting yourself. It is unacceptable to still be prey to rudimentary attacks and submissions that require little to no set up. At this point you should be able to mount a sophisticated defense, and counter quickly.

Chaining Techniques Together

In addition to a deep understanding of the fundamental techniques, purple belts should also be able to effectively chain techniques together. This involves demonstrating an ability to link moves in a logical and efficient manner, creating smooth and effective transitions between positions and submission attempts. If your Jiu Jitsu is only good in a small number of static positions, you are in trouble here. Get to work on some start to finish drills, and start rolls from the dog fight, or other positions of transition to improve.

Development of Personal Style

At the purple belt level, practitioners are expected to have developed their own personal style. This involves taking the fundamental techniques and principles of jiu jitsu and using them to create an individualized approach that reflects the practitioner‘s unique preferences and needs. It is important to remember that the fundamentals are just that, they are not gospel. They are the basis upon which all other techniques rely, and if they need to be adapted to your own physical attributes or deficiencies, so be it. This is how the art was created in the first place, and this practice shouldn’t stop now.

Advanced Techniques

Purple belts are also expected to have been exposed to a variety of advanced techniques. This includes an understanding of advanced takedowns, escapes, and submissions, as well as a familiarity with the strategies and tactics used in jiu jitsu competition. At this point you should have a solid stand up game. If you are not comfortable in a high school wrestling room, work on it. If you can not set up and execute basic hip throws on unsuspecting white belts, spend some time on your judo. I myself fall into this category, and need work.

Secondly, it’s probably time you learned to strike. Our art was born of trial and error in combat, and we risk loosing our roots if we don’t open our minds to striking.

The Challenges of Being a Purple Belt

a black and white photo of a somber man

Achieving the rank of purple belt in Jiu Jitsu is a significant milestone that comes with its own unique set of challenges. Here is a breakdown of some of the common challenges that purple belt practitioners face:

Increased Expectiations

As a purple belt, you may find that there is an increase in the expectations placed on you by your instructor, peers, and opponents. You may be asked to take on a greater leadership role in the dojo, or to lead warmup drills or technique demonstrations. In addition, you may be expected to have a deeper understanding of Jiu Jitsu concepts, as well as the ability to apply them in sparring. Lower belts will begin to look up to you, whether you like it or not. They may or may not admire you, but they will certainly see you in a new light.

Balancing Training with Life

Maintaining a purple belt ranking requires a significant time commitment to training, which can be difficult to manage alongside daily life responsibilities such as work, family, and other commitments. As a purple belt practitioner, it is important to find a balance between your training and other aspects of your life. At a minimum, one drill class and one Randori should be attended each week. Less than this, and your skills may begin to degrade. Sometimes it will be more, sometimes less. Try to reach at least this as an average.

Dealing With Plateau

Reaching a plateau in your Jiu Jitsu journey is a common challenge faced by practitioners of all levels, but especially by purple belt practitioners. In my experience, the key to overcoming plateaus is to stay consistent in your training, identify areas of improvement, and focus on drilling and refining your technique. Something that is uncommon, but can be useful is filming training. Professional athletes of all levels study their competition and training films in order to identify anything that might be holding them back. In the BJJ community it might seem a bit out of place to film training, but it can be a valuable tool to identify and cut away your bad habits.

Keeping Up With Partners

As a purple belt, you may find that many of your training partners have achieved higher belt rankings than you. This can be challenging, as it can be difficult to keep up with more experienced practitioners. Let these things go. Everyone progresses at a different rate, and comparing yourself to your peers can be harmful in the long run. Instead, compare yourself as a practitioner to who you were yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. This is the metric that matters most.

Advice for Those Pursuing Purple Belt

a black belt instructor having a conversation with a student

As someone who has achieved purple belt in jiu jitsu, I understand the dedication, hard work, and commitment required to reach this level. Here is some advice for other jiu jitsu practitioners who are pursuing purple belt:

Consistency is Everything

Consistency is key, and it is important to stay focused and dedicated to your training, even when the going gets tough. This means sticking to a regular training schedule and showing up to class, even when you don‘t feel motivated. Especially when you don’t feel motivated. These moments come and go, expect them and work through them. At the end of the day, it’s not about who’s good – it’s who’s left. So many people give up, and if you just stick with it and stay mindful in your training you will get there.

Focus on Technique AND Athleticism

At the purple belt level, technique is more important than athleticism, however it is time you start a consistent Strength and Conditioning program. Injuries will not heal as quickly, and your age will begin to show if you’re not careful. While it is clear that athleticism can help you progress quicker early on, it is the combination of both that will carry you through tougher sparring sessions and competitions. Although it is true that an hour of drilling will outweigh an hour of lifting, don’t forget that fatigue makes cowards of us all. If you let your conditioning slip, you will certainly loose matches that you should have won, had you not been out of shape.

Embrace the Learning Process

When pursuing purple belt, it is important to embrace the learning process. Even when you reach purple belt, you will still be a student, and there will always be something new to learn. Rather than trying to rush through the learning process, take the time to absorb the techniques and concepts of jiu jitsu.

Seek Critique

In order to reach purple belt, it is important to seek feedback and critiques from experienced practitioners and instructors. This will help you identify your weak points and areas of improvement, as well as provide you with valuable insights into the jiu jitsu techniques and concepts.

This is the moment you actually kill your ego. Ask your professor what you suck at. Ask the other black belts. Even the white belts! Listen to them. Although their critique may not be accurate, what if they are right about something? If a white belt can find holes in your game, you must pay attention to that.

Conclusion

a purple belt girl holding a medal

In this article, we discussed the significance of earning a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The purple belt is an important milestone in any martial artist‘s journey, representing a mastery of fundamentals and a commitment to the martial art. A purple belt demonstrates an understanding of the technical aspects of BJJ, as well as a dedication to growth and improvement.

 

Ecouragement to Continue Training BJJ

Earning a purple belt is an impressive accomplishment and a testament to a martial artist‘s dedication to the sport. However, the journey does not end here. At the purple belt level, there is still much to learn and plenty of room for growth and improvement. I encourage all martial artists to continue their journey and strive for the highest level of mastery.

Final Thoughts

The path to earning a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is filled with hard work and dedication. The process of mastering techniques and developing a knowledge of the martial art is a journey of selfdiscovery, and the rewards are well worth the effort. I hope this article has provided you with insight into the importance of the purple belt and motivates you to continue your journey of learning and growth.

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