What entitles someone to be called “Master” in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Becoming a “Master” in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a long and rewarding journey. We have outlined the Guidelines to becoming a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) here. But what is required to earn the coveted title of “Master” in BJJ?
First let’s answer a few common questions about Black Belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:
- Why is there a patch or bar on the belt? The bar is the place that the degrees are to be placed. You may be aware of this already since most colored BJJ Belts and sometimes White BJJ Belts have a Black Patch/Bar for stripe placement.
- Why do some Black Belts have a White Patch/Bar and some Black Belts have a Red Patch/Bar? The White Patch or Bar on a Black Belt signifies the Black Belt is a student or fighter. The Red Patch or Bar signifies that the Black Belt is an Instructor.
- What are those white stripes that “frame” the red bar, and why do some instructors have the white framing stripes while some don’t? The White Stripes that “frame” the Red Bar or Patch on a Black Belt signify that the Instructor or Professor owns the BJJ Academy or School.
- What do I call the Black Belts in my BJJ Academy? This differs depending on the school and sometimes the individual. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a modern martial art and in some ways less traditional than others. Formal greetings are always appropriate. Sir is usually a safe bet. It’s best to err on the side of respect. If the Black Belt says… “just call me…. ‘preferred salutation'”, then you can go with that.
- How should I address my teacher? “Professor“. Unless they qualify for the title of “Master“, then you should call them “Professor, Firstname/Lastname” (depending on their preference). There are exceptions, as noted in IBJJF Guidelines Article 6.3 below. It basically states that IF THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH BLACK BELTS IN THE REGION, that they may approve certain purple and brown belts to sign as Instructors. Therefore, they should be referred to as “Instructor, Firstname/Lastname” (depending on their preference).
- When can a Professor promote his first Black Belt? According to IBJJF Guidelines Article 6.2 below, an athlete can only be promoted to Black Belt by an Instructor with at least a 2nd Degree Black Belt. (We outline how to achieve 2nd Degree Black Belt later. Essentially they must be a Black Belt and teaching for at least 6 years.)
ARTICLE 6 – PROFESSORS AND INSTRUCTORS
6.1 The membership form of an athlete graded in belts of gray, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and brown must be signed by
an IBJJF affiliated black belt.
6.2 The graduation of an athlete to black belt can only be signed by a black belt instructor that promoted them and must have at
least 2 degrees certified by IBJJF.
6.3 In countries or regions where there are not enough black belts for the development of the sport, IBJJF will accept purple belt and brown belt athletes to sign as instructors. Once the minimum number is reached, the use of instructor status will be suspended.
6.31 Brown belt instructors can only graduate athletes to purple belt and purple belt instructors can only graduate athletes to blue belt.
Important Note: Belt Promotions are to be given by IBJJF Certified Instructors & Professors Only!
So how does one become a “MASTER” or “GRANDMASTER?
To be called a Master in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you must achieve the “Coral Belt”. The Coral Belt is a Rank awarded by the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) when you achieve the 7th degree as a Black Belt. Carlos Gracie Jr. is an example of a BJJ Master. Below you will find a link to a List of Masters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
How do you earn stripes or degrees as a Black Belt? Once you are a Black Belt, your Professor no longer awards degrees or stripes. You must continue to learn and contribute to the sport by attending classes, teaching, competing, or refereeing. Subsequent ranks are awarded by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation. Each degree is awarded by applying to the IBJJF after the respective amount of years below:
- The 1st Degree is awarded after 3 years of receiving the Black Belt
- The 2nd Degree is awarded 3 years after receiving the 1st Degree. If an instructor, they are now granted the ability to promote others to Black Belt.
- The 3rd Degree is awarded 3 years after receiving the 2nd Degree
- The 4th Degree is awarded 5 years after receiving the 3rd Degree
- The 5th Degree is awarded 5 years after receiving the 4th Degree
- The 6th Degree is awarded 5 years after receiving the 5th Degree
- The 7th Degree is awarded 7 years after receiving the 6th Degree and the Black Belt is switched to a Red and Black (aka Coral) Belt and earns the BJJ Practitioner the Title, “Master”
- The 8th Degree is awarded 7 years after receiving the Coral Belt and the Red and Black Belt is exchanged for a Red and White Belt. This rank is also titled, “Master”
- The 9th Degree is awarded 10 years after receiving the 8th Degree and the Title, “Grand Master” is achieved and the Red and White Belt is exchanged for a Red Belt.
- The 10th Degree is a rank that is currently reserved only to the pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the Gracie brothers: Carlos Sr., Oswaldo, George, Gaston, and Helio Gracie
To be called “Master” in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you must contribute to the sport of BJJ for 31 years as a Black Belt, achieve Coral Belt and adhere to the IBJJF Guidelines.
To be called “Grand Master” in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you must contribute to the sport of BJJ for 48 years as a Black Belt, achieve Red Belt and adhere to the IBJJF Guidelines.
Is there a list of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Grand Masters? We’ve compiled a list here we’ve gathered from various reputable sources:
Here is a list of BJJ Black Belt Athletes, Fighters, and Professors
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