Breaking Down The IBJJF Graduation System

We highly recommend you read our article “Ultimate Guide to IBJJF Terminology” before this one so that you can familiarize yourself with the terms used herein.

The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is currently used as the standard for belt graduation requirements at many academies. Your particular academy might have their own requirements but if you intend to compete at an IBJJF event, you would still be required to understand and adhere to their graduation system. In this article, we break down the three major points of the IBJJF Graduation System so you can understand the requirements.


1. Age - The IBJJF Graduation System has minimum and maximum age requirements for certain belt ranks. Additionally, your age might require you to hold a minimum belt rank as well. First, you must calculate your age according to the Graduation System. Note, it is NOT the age you currently are but the age you will be or have already achieved in the current year:


(example: Athlete’s birthday is December 2005; therefore:

2022 - 2005 = 17 years old even though the athlete is not yet 17 years old)

Here are the age requirements per belt rank:

  • White: any age
  • Grey: 4 - 15 years old (once the athlete qualifies for the 16 year old category, they can no longer hold the Grey Belt)
  • Yellow: 7 - 15 years old (once the athlete qualifies for the 16 year old category, they can no longer hold the Yellow Belt)
  • Orange: 10 - 15 years old (once the athlete qualifies for the 16 year old category, they can no longer hold the Orange Belt)
  • Green: 13 - 15 years old (once the athlete qualifies for the 16 year old category, they can no longer hold the Green Belt)
  • Blue / Purple: 16 years old minimum - any age
  • Brown: 18 years old minimum - any age
  • Black: 19 years old minimum - any age
2. Time requirements - the listed time requirements are the minimums the athlete must complete in those belt ranks. Professors can choose to promote athletes later than those timelines but the minimum must be served in order to be recognized by IBJJF. Additionally, professors can choose to promote athletes earlier than the requirement but the athlete will not be allowed to register the new belt rank until the time has been completed.
  • Previous belt experience - if the athlete has a previously registered belt rank in the system, the requirements may be different for juvenile athletes. For example, an athlete with experience at any of the kids’ belts must register at MINIMUM a Blue Belt once they enter the Juvenile division. They cannot be demoted to the White Belt. Additionally, Kids/Juveniles with years at various color ranks do not adhere to the same time requirements as adults in the Blue and Purple Belt ranks.
3. Black Belt Degrees - All prior belts can be recognized through the membership process but degrees on the Black Belt are based on time served in the IBJJF system, regardless of the actual promotion dates. Therefore, athletes must have shown IBJJF activity as a Black Belt for every year they want to count towards degrees. For example, a Black Belt who received their First Degree in 2020 but did not register their Black Belt with IBJJF until 2020 will not be able to achieve their degree in the IBJJF system. They will need to wait until 2023 and maintain activity to recognize the First Degree.


Ultimately, if you are not competing with IBJJF or you are not an academy owner whose students need to compete with IBJJF, this graduation system is not required. IBJJF membership is only required if you intend to compete and is recommended for athletes who wish to obtain an IBJJF Black Belt Certificate in the future. Professors with students who are competing and need to register their academy with IBJJF must also undergo the process and familiarize themselves with the IBJJF Graduation System to ensure their students’ memberships are not declined.


For additional answers to questions, visit theIBJJF Help Desk.


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