I thought I'd end this year with a little discussion on ranking systems, beginning with BJJ and judo. It's not really like comparing apples to oranges, because BJJ and judo are really about the same thing. More like comparing Golden Delicious apples to Red Delicious apples.
The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) ranking system goes something like this (per Roy Dean's description):
- 5 student ranks: white - blue - purple - brown - black
- the progression in BJJ is roughly linear - about 2-years per rank. Black belt after 8-10 years.
The judo rank system (at least our flavor - some do it differently) goes something like this:
- 9 student ranks white - yellow - green - brown - brown - brown - black - black - black
- the progression in judo is not linear. It takes more time in grade to reach each higher rank.
In BJJ, black belt is (as I understand it) considered 'expert' level, deemed competent to teach having seen and become proficient at the whole system. In judo, though, the first black belt is seen as a mere starting point on the road toward expertise. In fact, judo ranks as high as 3rd black are still considered students, and the official teaching ranks don't begin until 4th black because it is not until about then that the student has seen the whole system.
So, where BJJ has five student ranks, each taking about 2 years, culminating in 'expertise' at about 10 years, judo has nine student ranks, each taking progressively longer, and also culminating in 'expertise' in about 10 years. (This 10-year mark turns out to be significant per Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, on expertise and excellence.)
As a very rough guide, you might equate ranks in the two styles as follows:
- blue belt BJJ (2 years) = 2nd brown belt judo (1 year)
- purple belt bjj (4 years) = 1st black judo (3 years)
- brown belt bjj (6 years) = 2nd black judo (5 years)
- black belt bjj (8 years) = 3rd black judo (8 years)
But then again, everything is dependent on the individual and the proof of the pudding is in the tasting...