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As a veteran of the armed forces (Army) I sometimes wonder what rank a BJJ belt would equal in terms of knowledge, technique and experience. I have often played around with it in my head and this is what I came up with.
White Belt – No Stripes -Basic Trainee/ 1 Stripe – Private – E1/ 2 Stripes – Private – E2/ 3 Stripes – Private First Class – E3/ 4 Stripes – Specialist or Corporal – E4
As I am a four stripe white belt I am knowledgeable enough to hold down the fort for a limited amount of time, but lack some essential skills that could make it a little dangerous for everyone involved.
Blue Belt – No Stripes – Sergeant/ 1 Stripe – Staff Sergeant – E6/ 2 Stripes -Sergeant First Class- E7/ 3 Stripes – Master Sergeant – E8/ 4 Stripes – Sergeant Major or Master Sergeant/Sergeant Major -E9
I would say that the blue belts that I have been around have (had) the toughness to handle most of the newbies and long time vets in the white belt ranks, at the least. They can be trusted to lead the students for extended periods of time. The three and four stripe players have considerable experience to stay the course and can train people for extended periods without any guidance. But at some point they will need further direction so that they and those below them can advance.
Purple Belt – No Stripes to 1 Stripe – 2nd Lt./2 Stripes -1st Lt./3 Stripes – Captain/4 Stripes – Major
In the army most of the Lieutenants are named XOs (share the second in command spot) of a company of about 50 troops. Captains are usually named COs (commanding officer) of about 100 troops. I have noticed a tendency for many purple belts to open their own schools in many cities and they have well trained students who compete well against students trained in Black and Brown belt schools. They are usually able to exist on their own with casual guidance.
Brown Belt - No Stripes to 2 Stripes – Lt. Col/3 to 4 Stripes – Colonel
Lt. Colonels and Colonels are entrusted with hundreds and sometimes thousands of troops. At this time it is only a matter of time before they receive that revered status of General. Most BJJ practitioners will never reach the brown belt level and there is ‘massive’ respect for those who reach this rank.
Black Belt – No Stripes to 1 Stripe – Brigadier General/ 2 Stripes – Major General/ 3 Stripes – Lt. General/ 4 Stripes – General
Many who hold this rank oversee the total development of our art. They visit schools to provide guidance, lift morale and show their confidence and support in those they mentor. It is always an extremely big deal when they visit an academy. There is often a level of mysticism associated with those who achieve this position or the rank.
These are my thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear someone else’s opinion on the subject.
You can also check out my writings and research at Psychology Today: Communication Central