The best BJJ belts are more than just pieces of cloth that hold the gi in close to the body. They’re an indication of all you aspire to and, at the same time, a signifier of your place in the Jiu Jitsu pecking order. A white belt for instance indicates more than just naivete. It indicates humility and a willingness to learn. While a black belt indicates wisdom, strength and self-control among myriad other things. Finding just the right BJJ belt then entails more than just picking a color. It entails finding a belt that’s going to agree with your physicality, enable your technique, express your status and stand up to the rigors of grappling.
Review: Sanabul has a good reputation for producing durable, attractive BJJ belts for people of all ages and it’s easy to see where that reputation comes from. They feature 8 rows of stitching that ensure your belt is not going to lose its structural integrity while you’re grappling on the floor. They’re fashioned from thick 100% cotton. They hold their colors fast even through a multitude of wash cycles. And they don’t irritated your skin should an arm or other body part be pressed against them during a match.
The IBJJF is so impressed with Sanabul that they afford the company the right to be the official provider of belts during IBJJF sanctioned competitions. The most impressive aspect of Sanabul belts is their ability to stand up to even the most aggressive grappling. When other belts are emerging from the floor misshapen, ripped and frayed, Sanabul belts tend to look just as good months after you first slip them on as they do when they’re new. Another impressive feature of these belts is their affordability. You might normally expect a producer to jack up their prices once they achieve some type of “official” status. Sanabul has thankfully resisted that urge.
Review: Gameness has been making Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belts since 1998. And in that time they’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a BJJ belt worth owning. Their belts are 1.5 inches in width and come in a wide variety of lengths to suit both youngsters and adults of different sizes. Their belts are fashioned from durable 100% cotton and feature 8 rows of high-quality stitching which allow the belt to keep its form regardless of how intense the grappling gets. These belts have some of the most agreeable textures of any BJJ belts. They’re soft and pliable, yet they don’t submit and never irritate the skin.
Gameness belts are available in all the BJJ colors and those colors tend to hold up to repeated washings as well as any belt on the market. The quality of the dyes used and the colors they produce are very deep and satisfying and aren’t going to rub off on the floor. It must be mentioned that these belts are a bit narrower than most. And while many students may find that a positive attribute, the IBJJF has very clear rules on what a belt should be. So if you try and wear one of these into an officially sanctioned competition the judges may – repeat may – take issue with it.
Review: I love the durable feel of the Hayabusa Unisex Jiu Jitsu Belt. It feels substantial the minute you wrap it around yourself and it holds fast through the most aggressive action. The belt features the company’s trademark Peregrine Falcon motif as well as the traditional kanji representing the twin virtues of honor and courage. The belts are fashioned from 12 ounce cotton twill fabric, which is very tough and yet soft to the touch. The belts also feature 8 rows of stitching that ensures they maintain their integrity so you can maintain your focus.
The Hayabusa belts range from 105 to 130 inches in length and also feature 550 gm spec-wave material to buttress their overall strength and durability. In spite of all that they’re still one of the lightest full-sized belts you’re likely to find. Which is what, I suppose, qualifies them as being “unisex”. Which otherwise seems a fairly meaningless marketing term. They’re a little more expensive than some other belts but I’m pretty sure you’ll agree they’re worth it.
Review: I should state right up front that Venum BJJ Belts are not the most durable belts you’re going to find. So what are they doing on my list of best Jiu Jistu belts? They’re incredibly comfortable and tend to hold a knot better than most other belts I tested. Also, that knot feels far less punishing when you’re planted on it than some others that can feel like you have a large stone shoved into your gut. Some of that comfort likely has to do with the fact that the stitching here is less robust than on other belts. Which is also why the belt is not likely to last as long as some others.
So the thing that undermines the long term durability of the belt is the same thing that makes it a more comfortable wear. It seems like a kind of catch 22. But in reality if you are not fond of having a large unforgiving knot shoved into your gut while grappling the Venum BJJ Belt may be just what the BJJ doctor ordered. Also in their defense they are made of 100% cotton and will hold up well to repeated washings.
Review: The Hypnotik line of BJJ belts are some of the few that are cut from the same cloth used to make the traditional gi. They feature the so-called “pearl weave” that is supposed to imbue the fabric with an intense durability while at the same time allowing it to flex when you need it to flex. The Hypnotik belt is 2 inches in width and available in a variety of lengths to suit most any practitioner. They feature the desired 8 rows of stitching down the long axis along with the company’s logo and somewhat silly “art of greatness” patch at the end.
But while the company slogan doesn’t impress the belt itself does. They are relatively light and every bit as pliable as advertised. The colors are also vibrant and will hold fast through numerous wash cycles. Some practitioners may find them a bit stiff when they first slip them on. But they will loosen up just a bit the more you wear them and after they’ve been through the wash as few times. All in all these are serious belts for those intent on sticking with their practice over the long haul.
Review: The Fuji BJJ Belt may confuse novices a bit with the plethora of colors they offer. After all, there aren’t a limitless number of belt colors in BJJ so what’s up with all the belt colors here? Who knows. They are what they are in that regard. But if you can look past the kaleidoscope of color choices and focus on the belts themselves you might agree that they deserve a spot on my list.
Fuji Belts are simple belts fashioned from 100% pure cotton and feature robust stitching throughout. They adhere more or less to IBJJF competition sizing constraints and are worn by a number of high profile practitioners. While I felt they had a slightly insubstantial feel to them that wasn’t particularly appealing I couldn’t argue with the fact that they’re tough and well-made and that they hold a knot like few other belts. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a use for all those colors.
Review: Revgear Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts also come in all the colors of the rainbow. Which in and of itself is not really a strong suit. After all, I’m not here to sing the praises of BJJ belts you can’t use. The reason the Revgear Belts make my list is because they’re reasonably well made and very reasonably priced. So their right in the financial wheelhouse of practitioners on a budget.
That price wouldn’t be worth much however if the belts fell apart after just a few wearings. But the good news is that they’re surprisingly well made with lots of tough, durable stitching and 100% cotton fabric. They’re also comfortable, fairly pliable and loosen up a bit over time so that the knot becomes somewhat less punishing. You can purchase a couple of Revgear belts for what some other belts will cost and keep one in your locker as a backup should you ever need it. I should mention that one area where the price reveals itself is in the color. Which doesn’t hold up very well to repeated washings. But if you’re a white belt that won’t matter.
Review: Ronin seems to put a little extra effort into the fabrication of their Jiu Jitsu belts and it shows in everything from the stitching to the vibrant color-fast hues. These are rugged, professional grade belts that will enhance your appearance and emerge from even the most intense training sessions intact. They’re going to set you back a bit more than some other belts. But if it’s a tough, handsome, comfortable belt you’re after you probably won’t feel like you wasted your money.
Novices may not have the ability to distinguish a great belt from a good belt. So the virtues of the build quality here may be lost on them. But more experienced practitioners are sure to appreciate the heavy stitching, the deep, satisfying colors and even the care and attention put into the branding. Great overall belts if you’re in this for the long run.
Review: Tatami belts are without a doubt some of the most popular BJJ belts on the market today. This popularity can be attributed to the combination of build quality and price they offer. Put those things together and you get something called “value”. And who isn’t up for a good value in today’s economy?
The Tatami Fightwear belt features 8 rows of heavy stitching along the long axis and compelling tan ren embroidery in the logo. The material is thick 100% cotton that’s rugged yet comfortable and holds the color through dozens of washes. The Tatami belts are 1.5 inches in width so they’re a bit thinner than IBJJF regulations are likely to approve for official competitions. Just keep that in mind. But the upside of these belts far outweighs that potential downside. Overall they’re a good choice for novices or any BJJ fighter not heavily involved in official competitions.
Review: The last item on my list of best Jiu Jitsu belts comes to us from a company called Gold. They’re a small family owned company that produces a limited number of martial arts items including these BJJ belts. The Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Belt is fashioned from 100% cotton and is available in a range of sizes for everyone from adolescents to full-sized adults. They feature 8 rows of heavy-duty stitching to ensure structural integrity and are available in all five BJJ colors from white to black.
The Gold BJJ belts are pretty stiff when you first tie them up but they’ll loosen up just a bit over time. If you want to soften them prior to wearing the first time just throw them in the wash. Either way they hold a knot well, don’t create abrasions on your skin when you’re forced to rub against them while grappling. And they’re reasonably priced to boot.
Made of 100% cotton.
A full range of sizes.
Rugged yet pliable.
Stylish gold label.
Holds a knot beautifully.
The BJJ Belt Order Explained
Jiu Jitsu belts aren’t like standard articles of clothing. In essence they’re representative of your level of mastery. Perhaps they can best be equated with military stripes that serve little practical purpose but indicate rank and the level of respect that others are expected to accord that rank.
The white belt is the belt of a BJJ novice. While white belts tend to attract attention from the blue, purple and other belts above them it’s not negative attention. Or at least it shouldn’t be. White belts are all about learning the basics: basic sweeps and escapes and, more often than not, basic submissions.
The blue belt has demonstrated a sufficient knowledge of the basics to the point that he or she is no longer a true novice. More is expected of them and they should expect more of themselves. You start to spend time as a blue belt on refining your basic techniques.
By the time you graduate to a purple belt you begin to understand how to use your own particular physiology to your best advantage. This is when most practitioners first begin to develop a style of their own.
In the brown belt years of refinement and growth coalesce into a style that contributes to moving the art form forward. Brown belts are senior practitioners and expected to behave as such. Many instructors are brown belts.
The black belt is typically the highest level most long time practitioners achieve. It signifies mastery over the form. Black belts are regularly referred to as “professor” because they are deep repositories of experience, knowledge and wisdom.
You could spend your whole adult life as a practitioner of BJJ and never meet a red belt. That’s because there have only been about 4 dozen people who were bestowed red belts and a fair number of them have passed away.
In addition there are up to 4 stripes awarded as intermediary steps within each belt. A stripe is offered in recognition of progress made.
Characteristics of the Best BJJ Belt
Your belt should be an embodiment of the following characteristics:
Quality is a loaded word that is often misused and even more often misunderstood. In this case it means at least a half dozen rows of robust stitching (preferably 8) that will enable the belt to retain its structural integrity. The material should be durable and yet non-irritating.
The IBJJF has strict guidelines in place governing the dimensions of BJJ belts. They should be 4 or 5 cm wide and long enough to wrap twice around the waist. After the second time around the waist they should be tied in a double knot with the ends hanging 20 – 30 cms from the knot.
The tip of the belt should be black. Except for the tips of black belts, which should be either red or white.
Criteria for Promotion
Promotion is often left to the discretion of the individual coaches and sometimes the academies they work for. The IBJJF specifies minimum amounts of time in a specific grade and that a person has be in good standing with their academy. But it doesn’t say much about the exact skill needed to rise from one belt to the next. As such promotion tends to come down to the following factors:
In many academies promotion is granted when one or more coaches agree a certain student has earned elevation to the next level. This type of informal agreement is gradually being phased out however, as formal testing gains favor in many academies.
While formal testing is gaining traction in many academies exactly what a test consists of can vary significantly from one academy to the next. Some use in-person exhibitions while others rely on videos produced by the student in which they demonstrate their skills. Still others require a student to take a certain number of private lessons from a coach in preparation for testing. Others do not. It will likely be some time before testing is standardized.
It’s not uncommon today for a student to be promoted if they put on an impressive display of skill in a competition against fully resisting opponents. While formal testing seems like the direction the sport is taking overall, there are more than a few BJJ academies that, at least at the moment, rely heavily on the results of competition.
While any one of the items on my best BJJ belts list will serve you well my choice for absolute best is the Hypnotik Pearl Weave Premium BJJ Belt. It’s one of the more expensive belts on my list but not so expensive that it’s going to break anyone’s bank. And the undeniable level of care that goes into the fabrication of these belts should make spending the few extra bucks significantly less painful. Comfortable, durable and handsome they’re my pick for best BJJ belt.