What is a BJJ Promotion Like?

What is a BJJ Promotion Like?

A BJJ promotion is one of the single most important days of any BJJ practitionerIf you practice Jiu Jitsu yourself, you know firsthand how much time and effort it takes to get promoted!   

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is arguably the hardest martial art you can master. It can take practitioners upwards of ten years before they get their black belt.  

If you make it to promotion day, you feel a variety of ranges of emotions – you’re excited, nervous, and hope you’ve done enough to deserve a promotion.   

Each promotion is different from the next and takes a different amount of time. There are also different methods of promotion depending on the BJJ school.  

Take a look below as we lay out everything about BJJ promotions. We’ll list everything about each belt, promotion styles, and traditions Jiu Jitsu schools do for promotions. Check it out! 

How Difficult Is It To Get Promoted?

Getting promoted is as difficult as you want to make it. The process will test you physically and mentally. But as long as you train frequently and continue to progress, you’ll eventually get promoted. 

How Long Does Each Promotion Take?

Every belt takes a different amount of time to earn and the process for each is different. Here is a timeline of each belt promotion and a description of each one. 

  • White Belt To Blue Belt: This is your first promotion and a very special one. Earning this belt generally takes between 1-2 years or less if you have a prior base in wrestling or Judo. To earn this belt you need to demonstrate that you have an understanding of BJJ basics. 
  • Blue Belt To Purple Belt: For many this is the hardest promotion in BJJ and where many students drop out. It is generally twice as long as blue belt taking anywhere from 3-4 years.

    This belt can be a real struggle to get and it’s the first time you face real adversity. But during this process, you start to develop your own game and really start to grow as a grappler.
  • Purple Belt To Brown Belt: During the process of getting your brown, you’re growing your understanding of BJJ and expanding your Jiu JItsu game. These are the teenage years when you really start to develop as a grappler and usually takes between 3-4 years.
  • Brown To Black Belt: Earning a black belt means you dedicated at least 10 years of your life to training BJJ. Through this process you have evolved as a grappler and a person.

The dedication you showed in training shows that you have the utmost respect and love of Jiu Jitsu. You have completed the first journey in BJJ through the colored belts and prepared for the next journey. 

BJJ Promotion

Promotion Styles

Each BJJ school has their own style of promotion depending on their affiliation. Here are the different types of promotion styles in BJJ.

Marathon Rolling/Shark Tank

Marathon rolling or shark tank is an old school style of promotion. It involves the student(s) getting promoted to roll with everyone nonstop for at least an hour. A trial by fire so to speak to show your technical ability and endurance.  

After the hour of rolling everyone, you’re left completely exhausted from rolling. You are then awarded your belt for completing the process. 

Seminar Promotions

Seminar promotions are when a high ranked black belt instructor comes to a school to award belts. Generally this black belt is either the head of the school’s affiliation or the coach of the school’s instructor. They usually come 1-2 times a year depending on how many times the school does promotions.  

The head black belt does a 2 hour long seminar with maybe an hour of rolling after drilling technique. After training all of the students line up and the black belt awards belts going from highest rank to lowest. 

Written Tests

Some schools require a written test to be awarded a belt. This is to test your knowledge of BJJ to show that you know the history of the martial art. Also to show that you know the lineage of your school. 

Promotion Ceremony

There are other schools that do promotions one time at the end of the year. All of the family and friends of the students are invited to see them get promoted.   

The black belt instructors all give speeches and award their students with a new belt. At the end everybody hugs, they take a group picture with all of the students, and then everyone eats. 

Online Promotion

Outside of Gracie Jiu Jitsu online it isn’t very common to see online promotions. Generally, what happens is online students have to go through an evaluation process.  

Through this process the online instructor does a video call. If you pass the test, you earn a Gracie Combatives belt. Here is the link on the Gracie Online’s process.


Old BJJ Traditions

Depending on the school. You may get put through some old traditions after you are awarded your new belt. Here are three common traditions after earning a new BJJ belt. 

The Belt Whip

Common in a lot of traditional old school BJJ gyms is the belt whip. This is when the newly promoted student has his teammates hit him with their belts. All of the students stand in two lines get to hit their promoted teammate as they walk the line.(2 times). 

The rules are that the teammates are only allowed to hit the promoted student in the back. No face or crotch shots are allowed. 

The Belt Whip

Takedown/Judo Throw Marathon

Another old tradition that some BJJ schools do to newly promoted students is the takedown marathon. This is where all of the students stand in line and get the opportunity to take their teammate down. They get two opportunities to do any kind of takedown they want on their teammate without them resisting.

The Dog Pile

This type of tradition is done in a lot of Brazilian BJJ schools during a surprise promotion. After the student is surprised with a new belt all of their teammates cheer, chant, and jump on them. It’s a really special moment between teammates. 

Final Thoughts

Every BJJ school has their own special way of promoting students. When that day comes it is a very special day for all involved.  

No matter if it’s a shark tank, a seminar promotion, or a special annual ceremony. The promoted student worked hard to get to this day and they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.