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Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts – Who Are These Elusive And Artful Grand Masters

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Who Are The Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts?

Helio Gracie 1952
Brazilian National Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts are the elite of the elite, the Grand Masters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But, as the great and powerful Endurance athlete and former Navy Seal David Goggins might describe them, they are uncommon amongst uncommon people.

But who are these elusive and artful Grand Masters? This blog post will look at who they are, their history, and their requirements. 

By the end of this post, you should have a good understanding of what it takes to be a Jiu-Jitsu Red Belt. 

The Elusive Ninth Degree Jiu-Jitsu Red Belt

There are currently thousands of Jiu-Jitsu black belts in the world. However, there are only around 40 Jiu-Jitsu red belts.

The red belt (or coral belt) is the Ninth-Degree black belt, according to the International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation (IBJJF).

 The scarcity of Red Belts is primarily because it takes a very long time and years of dedicated training (around 50 years) to receive a red belt from an academy like a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family school.

 In contrast, it usually takes 10-15 years to receive a black belt from most academies.

 Today there are no living Tenth Degree Red belts. Instead, the 10th-degree belt is a distinction given only to those who were the founders of the sport and helped to make it what it is today.

 In recent times, Flavio Behring has amassed 70 years of Jiu-Jitsu training. But, unfortunately, there were no other belt ranks or degrees possible for him.

 In recognition of his lifelong achievement and technical knowledge, Flavio was awarded a belt that re-emphasizes that the sport is a continuous learning process as a student and a teacher, The White Belt with a red bar.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Red Belt Journey

Helio Gracie in 2004
Satorijits, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The path to the jiu-jitsu red belt (or coral belt) for a practitio

ner of jiu-jitsu is long and arduous. It has taken many years and countless hours of training to reach this level of mastery.

 A jiu-jitsu red belt means that the player has achieved the art’s pinnacle and the rank of Ninth Degree Black Belt.

 Although there are no specific minimums or requirements for a black belt to advance in degrees, the deep respect and history of the belt is a self-regulating process.

 Jiu-Jitsu remains a sport that honors its heritage and values the lineage of students to teachers.

 High-ranking belts can quickly access a practitioner’s skill sets, and fraudulent posers of belt levels they have not earned are swiftly identified and met harshly by the community.

 A general standard for black belt degree progression is 3-5 years of training and teaching to progress from one degree to another.

 Lower belts, such as blue belts, purple belts, or even brown belts, can sometimes be promoted quickly through immense dedication, natural ability, athleticism, and the ability to quickly learn, retain, and apply knowledge.

 However, at the level of the red belt, your social contributions to the sport and other community members play a key role in your progression.

 Achieving a jiu-jitsu red belt is a highly prestigious achievement and one that most practitioners will strive for throughout their lifelong training careers.


Who Are The Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts?

Rickson Gracie
Zekerags at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Masters of Jiu-Jitsu are a select group of skilled and experienced players who deeply understand the game and its mechanics. They are relatively few, with only a handful in the world.

 There are many different styles and techniques of Jiu-Jitsu, each with its benefits and drawbacks. However, Grand Masters often rely on what can appear to be a few core techniques that they believe offer the best balance of power and defense.

 The difference between a highly skilled Jiu-jitsu player and a jiu-jitsu red belt is that these techniques have been refined and perfected over a lifetime.

 The experience and knowledge of a Red belt will account for a nearly infinite number of scenarios and slight variations of the foundational techniques of jiu-jitsu.

 Their immensely honed skill sets will effectively and consistently counter and control opponents by making minor form and technique adjustments, improved over a lifetime in the art and sport of Jiu-jitsu.

 Hundreds if not thousands of submission moves are available to the Grand Master, but the most effective submissions remain the most basic ones, implemented with intricate detail and precision that takes years to perfect.

 Jiu-Jitsu is fundamentally not about physical strength and agility but primarily requires immense knowledge, technique, and mental discipline.

 Irrefutable evidence is evident when watching the training and sparring sessions with Jiu-jitsu red belts and their athletic students, who are often 50 years younger than them or more.

 If mastered correctly, Jiu-Jitsu can demobilize an adversary nearly at will without causing severe injury to the opponent. It is an incredibly versatile art form that has been used for centuries to defend oneself against all threats.


Famous Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts From Around The World

Francisco Mansor
Gmastermansor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Less than fifty living Grand Masters worldwide have achieved the Jiu -Jitsu Red Belt.

 The Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts around the world have helped to popularize the sport. Helio Gracie, Rickson Gracie, and Carlos Gracie are just a few of the most famous athletes who have attained this rank.

 These athletes continue to be influential in Jiu Jitsu’s growth today, and their skills and mastery of the art are exceptional.

 As Jiu-Jitsu continues to grow in popularity, aspiring practitioners need to learn from these legends.

 Becoming a Grand Master or even achieving a Black Belt is a grueling process that takes years of hard work and dedication, but it is worth it if you want to achieve legendary status within the Jiu-Jitsu community.


A list of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts

Historical 10th-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts

  • Carlos Gracie
  • Gastão Gracie
  • Jorge (George) Gracie
  • Hélio Gracie
  • Oswaldo Gracie
  • Luiz França Filho (Non-Gracie Lineage, posthumously awarded)
  • Oswaldo Fadda (Non-Gracie Lineage, posthumously awarded)

9th Degree Red Belts:

  • 1. Pedro Hemeterio
  • 2. João Alberto Barreto
  • 3. Reyson Gracie
  • 4. Flavio Behring
  • 5. Carlson Gracie
  • 6. Carley Gracie
  • 7. Geny Rebello
  • 8. Armando Wridt
  • 9. Oswaldo Fadda
  • 10. Pedro Valente
  • 12. Luis Carlos Guedes de Castro
  • 13. Francisco Mansur
  • 14. Rorion Gracie
  • 16. Relson Gracie
  • 19. Francisco Sá
  • 21. Amelio Arruda
  • 22. Arthur Virgilio Neto 
  • 24. Crézio Chavez
  • 25. Deoclécio Paulo
  • 26. Eduardo Gomes Pereira
  • 27. Geraldo Flores
  • 28. Helio Vigio
  • 29. José Higino 
  • 30. Julio Secco
  • 32. Nahum Rabay
  • 33. Nilton Pereira da Silva
  • 35. Oswaldo Carnivalle
  • 36. Oswaldo “Paqueta” Rosa
  • 37. Paulo Mauricio Strauch
  • 38. Pedro Emerito
  • 39. Walter Nogueira
  • 41. Rickson Gracie
  • 42. Robson Gracie


To Wrap Up

Jiu-Jitsu Red Belts are the pinnacle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and are often referred to as Grand Masters.

 While their numbers might be small, their impact is immense.

 If you aspire to become a Jiu-Jitsu Red Belt one day, remember it takes a lifetime of dedication to the sport and your fellow practitioners.

 If you dedicate your life to this goal, you should realize that red belts have been awarded this distinction in many ways because they were more dedicated to helping others than achieving the actual belt.

 You can start doing that today by focusing on helping those behind you in their journey.


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