On average it can take 3-6 months before you receive your first stripe on your white belt in BJJ. The variance in time comes from your previous experience in athletics, the ability to learn and retain techniques, how frequently you go to class, and finally, the instructor’s discretion – feel free to ask them what criteria they use.
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What Does A Stripe Mean In Jiu-Jitsu?
Stripes are a way to measure your progress in Jiu-Jitsu. Until the black belt, there are (typically) 4 stripes per belt color before the student is promoted to the next belt rank.
Some academies don’t use the stripe system at all. One academy may only promote students to the next belt color when they’ve met the standards of the academy. There are also academies that only use stripes at the white belt level.
The black belt is different from other belt ranks – it receives 6 stripes, also known as degrees. The first degree can only be requested after a minimum of 3 years of black belt graduation.
The second and third degrees can be requested only after a minimum period of 3 years from the previous graduation. The 4th, 5th and 6th degrees can be requested only after a minimum period of 5 years from the previous graduation.
Finally, the black and red belt (masters) has 7 stripes on it. The red and white belt (8 stripes), was introduced recently by the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) and is also for masters. The red belt (Grand Masters) has 9 stripes.
What Criteria Is Used For Your First Stripe In Jiu-Jitsu?
There are a few types of criteria used for your first stripe at white belt: the time you have been training, demonstration of skill by using techniques, or how the instructor thinks you are improving. Each academy usually has slightly different criteria on when the student earns their first stripe or stripes in general!
Time On The Mats
I find a lot of schools use time as an indicator to give their students their first stripe. When the instructor notices the student is making an effort to come to 2-3 classes a week, not only is the student learning the basic techniques and retaining some of that information, they are showing their dedication to the art.
If the school you go to uses time as an indication to give the first stripe you can expect your first stripe after 4-6 months of training attending class 2-3 times a week.
Demonstration of Techniques
There are BJJ schools that require their students to know a few techniques to receive their first stripe in BJJ. The student should be able to demonstrate some of the basic principles and use them during active rolling. Some instructors will have a more formal demonstration of techniques while others will observe the student during classes.
If your instructor requires students to perform a set of basic techniques you could expect your first stripe after 2-8 months of training depending on your ability to retain information and the frequency you go to class.
Here’s a list of fundamental techniques you could be expected to know to get your first stripe at a white belt.
⦁ Forward/Backwards Roll
⦁ Technical Stand up
⦁ Maintaining and escaping the guard
⦁ Basic Side Control Pressure
⦁ Basic frames from the bottom while in side control
⦁ Mount prevention
⦁ Basic mount retention
⦁ Hip escape from mount
⦁ Back mount
Athletic Ability and Background
There are a select few people that will excel through their first few white belt stripes very quickly and it may be a result of their background in athletics or their athletic ability.
People with a background in athletics tend to catch on quicker to techniques because they understand how to control aspects of their body that others may not be used to. I have some examples of typical backgrounds in BJJ that seem to excel.
A background in wrestling will help you understand the different types of positions and know how to execute basic techniques much more quicker because of your familiarity with grappling. Additionally, wrestlers know how to control their opponents very well and where to place their heads to avoid getting choked out.
Football and rugby players get a great grasp on BJJ because of their understanding of momentum and using it against their opponents. Not only that, they are used to blocking people from moving forward and using bursts of energy when it matters – all very useful for passing someone’s guard or escaping side control or mounts.
Don’t underestimate the power of Yoga. Yoga is all about body control, flexibility, and controlled breathing. All very important skills to have in BJJ. Knowing how to control your body and having the flexibility to do so will help tremendously in learning techniques and executing them.
It doesn’t end there, the ability to control your breathing and remain calm is one of the best skills to have whether you’re just starting or working on the 2nd degree of your black belt.
How To Know You Are Getting Close To Your First Stripe On Your White Belt
A general guideline for knowing when you might get a promotion is when you start to notice that you are using some of the basic techniques during rolling. And you start becoming aware should be doing it in some positions; however, you may not be able to execute the technique, or the one you’re attempting still has some rough edges.
During the warm-up, you’re becoming more familiar with the drills and can perform most of them more fluidly than when you first started. If you haven’t been physically fit all your life, you’ll notice that they aren’t exhausting you as they did on day one.
You’ll know a few self-defense techniques that you could apply if the situation were to arise. And, heck, if you turn on MMA, you will probably start recognizing techniques being used when the match goes to the ground!
Your skill set will have a few basic sweeps, submissions, and a few guard passes and side control escapes you can demonstrate. These techniques may not look very fluid, but you’re still in the very (very) early stages of your journey and are not expected to be a master. But they will help you achieve that very first stripe on your white belt!
Don’t Focus On Getting Your First Stripe
The most important thing to remember is to not get caught up in chasing the next promotion. A lot of newcomers just want that next stripe or that blue belt. It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re only looking for that next promotion.
It’s important to realize that not everyone progresses at the same rate. So, when you have already been training for a month or two and someone new shows up and they get their first stripe before you it can be very frustrating. Especially if you’re only looking for that next stripe or to be the one that gets ranked the quickest.
Focus on learning the techniques and using them during rolling – even if they cause you to get submitted or swept. You’ll grasp onto the techniques much quicker and not be as concerned with outperforming everyone – which can prevent you from branching out and learning more.
On average it can take 3-6 months before you’re ready to receive your first white belt stripe in BJJ. Some schools give out stripes based on how long the individual has trained. For instance, every 4-6 months they get their next stripe.
Other schools prefer the student to know a handful of basic techniques. While some schools want the student to have a certain amount of mat time and know the basic technique, which could take up to a year for some.
Remember to not get frustrated if you’re not getting promoted or if others are getting promoted quicker than you. Everyone has a different background and it is not a race to get to the black belt first. It’s about learning and mastering the techniques, even if it takes you a bit longer.
The main takeaway is to remember to not get caught up with your next promotion is coming. Focus on the techniques being taught and using them during rolling. And before you know it you’ll have your promotion and feel good about receiving it.
Did you get your Gi for Jiu-Jitsu yet? Maybe you need a second Gi since you’re striving to get that first stripe? I recommend checking out the Fuji All-Round Gi and feel free to use my affiliate link to help support project BJJ