Looking around, I could identify 4 different versions (if you know of another, please let me know) of the black belt:
Solid black belt, with no tab on it. It kinda looks just like the ones given in judo and many other oriental martial arts
|Photo courtesy of Meerkatsu, featured here with Cobrinha|
Black belt with a white tab on one end. This version of the BJJ black belt is rare, but definitely exists
Black belt with a red tab
Black belt with a framed red tab on one end (with two white wide stripes on either side of the stripe). This is the second most common version you see (I'm not refering to grade stripes. Those are usually thinner and are INSIDE the red tab and not framing it like the two I'm talking about)
|red tab (left) and framed red tab (right)|
I asked my BJJ instructor David 'Malandro' Onuma and he gave me his breakdown, but he suggested I do more research.
I did some of my own research and here is what I've found:
There appear to be no formal rules used by everyone. There are some general guidelines and some places may enforce them, but it is not a one-rule-for-all.
Here is what Relson Gracie, the second eldest son of the founder Helio Gracie had to say:
and here is a link to the system used by USAJJ (their executives are some very highly regarded people in BJJ!)
Finally, here is what the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation replied to my enquiring email:
We don't have a rule for the belts.
Informally this is what I know from the belts ok ?
The solid black is usually used by athletes that don't have degrees and don't teach.
The one with red tab usually is used by professors.
The red tab with white edges is usually by professors that have been the black belt more the 1 year.
The white tab, nobody usually uses.
Hope I took care of some of your curiosity. Again, this is informal, we don't have a rule for that.
It's all good fun. In my research I saw this most inspiring photo of a 78-year young gentleman receiving his black belt after 15 years of training!
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
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