It\u2019s no secret that earning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu takes a serious investment of time, effort, and discipline. BJJ is a martial art with a seemingly endless number of techniques to learn, with sweeps, submissions, guards, and guard passes all taking years to learn and refine. Unlike many martial arts, jiu-jitsu can\u2019t be mastered in under five years. Adult BJJ students will have to pass through four belt levels (each with four stripes to indicate smaller steps of progression) before reaching the coveted black belt rank. While this may not seem like many belts, consider that each student takes at least a year -- and often far longer -- to move through each rank. If you want to be able to call yourself a legitimate BJJ black belt one day, you\u2019ll have to stick with it for a long time. Here\u2019s what you need to know if you want to earn a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt: Why does it take so long to earn a black belt in BJJ? Jiu-jitsu is a complicated and detailed martial art with many different styles. Each instructor has their own idea of how much a student should know before progressing to the next rank, but because jiu-jitsu is so complex, it\u2019s very obvious when a student is promoted too early. Even students who have been training for a whole year are considered \u201cbeginners,\u201d and it\u2019s not uncommon for students to train for two years or more before earning their blue belt. Given that many martial arts like karate and taekwondo can yield a black belt in about five years, it\u2019s understandable that the jiu-jitsu timeline may seem unnecessarily long to those who don\u2019t train. Once you start training, though, it makes sense. There are so many techniques to learn in jiu-jitsu, and the details required to perfect them are hard to understand unless you\u2019ve spent a significant amount of time on the mats. Many instructors also require their students to develop their skills in both gi (training with a kimono) and no-gi (training without a kimono). Though both of these styles fall under the umbrella of jiu-jitsu, they are vastly different. Many techniques that can be done in the gi (which can be grabbed and used as a tool) can\u2019t be done in no-gi, and vice versa. Getting good at one style of BJJ is hard, but getting good at both is an exceptionally challenging endeavor. What do you need to know to get a jiu-jitsu black belt? Brazilian jiu-jitsu doesn\u2019t have a set list of techniques that students need to master in order to earn their black belt. Because of this, individual instructors and academies can decide what they believe makes a jiu-jitsu athlete a legitimate black belt. Some coaches have set curriculums that students need to follow to progress to the next belt level, and they test their students on their knowledge before promoting them. Others take a more subjective approach, taking into account a variety of factors instead of following a black-and-white system. Generally, however, your instructor will promote you based on a combination of a few factors: \tTime training -- This isn\u2019t just dependent on the time that\u2019s passed since you first stepped on the mats, but also how frequently you show up to train. Someone who trains five or six days a week will make it to black belt faster than someone who only comes to BJJ once a week. \tCompetitive skills -- You don\u2019t have to compete in BJJ to earn a black belt, but it helps your coach see where you are in your journey compared to other students at your rank. If you don\u2019t compete, your coach will likely compare your abilities to that of your teammates. \tLeadership -- There are many black belts who never take on coaching roles within the gym. However, your coach will look favorably upon students who take the initiative to share their knowledge with others, even if that simply involves stepping up to help other students in the gym or at tournaments. \tTechnical ability -- Sorry, but you\u2019re not going to be a BJJ black belt if you don\u2019t know the difference between an armbar and a kimura. Though there\u2019s a lot of learning that takes place beyond black belt, you still need to have a thorough understanding of a wide variety of jiu-jitsu techniques before progressing to black belt. BJJ knowledge alone isn\u2019t enough to turn you into a black belt. It will, however, contribute to your progress as you grow as a student and athlete over the years. How will my jiu-jitsu change when I\u2019m a black belt? When you\u2019re a white belt, black belts seem all-knowing and invincible. When you reach purple or brown belt, though, you\u2019ll likely find that you\u2019re able to hold your own against many black belts. Obviously, a black belt who\u2019s been training for three decades is going to be better at jiu-jitsu than someone who was only a brown belt last week. Consider, too, that all jiu-jitsu practitioners have different strengths, weaknesses, and body types that make their jiu-jitsu more effective or less effective against certain opponents. In other words, your jiu-jitsu won\u2019t be infallible even when you\u2019re a black belt. There will always be someone who can tap you out, and there will always be someone you can tap out. As a general rule, though, by the time you reach black belt, you should expect to be able to: \tThink multiple steps ahead while rolling. As a while belt, a failed choke might be the end of the road for your train of thought. By the time you\u2019re a black belt, you\u2019ll know how to deliberately set up a failed choke to distract your opponent while you secretly work for another submission instead. Black belts are so hard to roll with because they know how to make you make mistakes. \tBe able to dominate (most) untrained people with ease. As a jiu-jitsu black belt, your technique should be able to overcome size and strength in most scenarios. However, if you\u2019re a smaller grappler facing someone significantly larger than you with any wrestling experience, you may be in for a challenge no matter how long you\u2019ve been training. You will certainly encounter purple and brown belts who will give you trouble on the mats as well as the skill gap narrows over time. Generally, though, you\u2019ll be unlikely to encounter any inexperienced jiu-jitsu students who can tap you out. \tUnderstand and explain a vast number of jiu-jitsu techniques. Talent alone doesn\u2019t get you a black belt. Some people are naturally good at jiu-jitsu and are able to hold their own within the first month of starting classes, but do they understand what they\u2019re doing? Do they fully grasp the \u201cwhy\u201d of their actions, and do they know how to make adjustments to account for different body types and skill sets? Jiu-jitsu is more like a flow chart than a straight line, and by the time you\u2019re a black belt, you\u2019ll be able to comprehend and explain the variants and finishing details of the techniques you learn throughout your time on the mats. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vEGqdZlQBqpY So how long do you need to train to earn a BJJ black belt? When you take all of this into consideration, it\u2019s no great surprise that it usually takes a minimum of ten years to earn a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Generally, you can expect to spend 1-2 years at white belt, 2-4 years at blue belt, 1.5-4 years at purple belt, and 1-4 years at brown belt, depending on your training frequency and your coach\u2019s expectations. This seems like a very long time when you first start training, but ironically, by the time you get close to your black belt, you may very well feel like you\u2019re not ready to be promoted yet. The more you learn about jiu-jitsu, the more you realize how much you don\u2019t know, especially as you spend more time training with people who are significantly better than you. Don\u2019t get fixated on that \u201cten years\u201d benchmark. Many people train for far longer than ten years before they earn their black belt, and some don\u2019t even need the full decade before their coach decides they\u2019re ready to be promoted. Just keep training and pay attention in class, and you\u2019ll get there eventually. Worth the Wait The process of earning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is neither short nor easy. Once you fall in love with BJJ, you\u2019ll find that you enjoy the journey more than you long to reach the destination. Ultimately, a black belt is just a piece of fabric that holds your gi together, and while it\u2019s cool to have bragging rights, you\u2019ll probably be happy to let your jiu-jitsu speak for itself by the time you achieve that coveted promotion.