If you just started training jiu jitsu and have no clue “how it works”, this blog is for you!

Picture: RibeiroPhoto

Wait, there are different teams?

Yes. Let me explain. Jiu jitsu is still a relatively new sport. Because of that, athletes who compete, don’t represent their country, they represent a team. A team can be as small as a bunch of 20 people training twice a week in a single city, or it can consist of multiple teams in different countries all over the world!

“Big” team names are for example: Atos, Alliance, Checkmat, Gracie Barra, Nova União GF Team.

Picture: RibeiroPhoto

How does it work with the belts?

To mark your progress, the color of your belt changes from time to time. Everybody starts as a white belt, and changes to black belt at the very end. In between there is blue, purple and brown (in that order).

There are also stripes: a small white line (spoiler: it’s actually made of tape) on the black part of your belt that indicates how far your progress is within that belt. You can get up to 4 stripes before proceeding onto the next belt.

Every gym works different, but a universal rule that holds true to most gyms, is that you don’t ask for your belt – it’s decided for you when you level up. This decision is usually made by your coach.

Picture: RibeiroPhoto

Hów you get your belt, strongly depends on where you train. In some gyms, you get your belt handed to you on a special gathering (the belt promotion ceremony). Some gyms will have this kind of promotion twice a year.

But your belt can also be given to you during a regular day in class, if your coach likes to surprise you.

Picture: RibeiroPhoto

Other gyms hold onto certain traditions, such as doing a technical exam to assess your level of knowledge. And other gyms conduct a”survival test” where you sit in the middle of the mat for a period of time and have to spar non-stop with teammates (who will take turns sparring with you, so théy get to rest, you don’t).

Or you will have to pass through a “corridor”, meaning all your teammates line up in 2 lines and the person going through the lines (you) gets a belt whipping as a means of saying “congrats” (thanks, I guess).

Where do I find a gi?

Good question! The internet is full of gi’s, and there’s a variety of women’s gi’s around as well! To find out your size, most brands offer a size chart where you can see which weight and height matches which size.

Rainha Fightwear “The First” rashguard in black and gold, available on their website. Picture: RibeiroPhoto.

Check out our previous blog post “Kimonos for Ladies” written by Johanna, or go to one of our partners BJJ Fightgear or Rainha Fightwear to check out what’s in stock!

Coming up next week in part 2 of “Help, I’m new!”: competing for the first time, weight classes & more!

Categories: Lifestyle



Rose is a black belt at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy Amsterdam (Checkmat). Besides being one of the co-founders of Ladies Only BJJ, she is a junior doctor MD and holds a MsC degree in Sports Sciences.