If you are just starting your BJJ career you may have the itch to test yourself and your skills in competition. But as a white belt is this possible or do you have to wait until you have earned your blue belt to partake in tournaments?
Can White Belts Compete In BJJ?
White belts can compete in BJJ. Nearly all competitions have a white belt division in the Gi and a beginner’s division in NoGi. It is common for white belts to compete and is encouraged by most coaches. It is best to train for at least 3 months so you have basic skills.
If you love competition and are looking to test yourself then BJJ is the perfect sport for you. It doesn’t matter what age or belt rank you are you will find plenty of opportunities to compete in competitions all over the US and the world.
There is even a white belt world championship, held every year by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) which takes place in Los Angeles. If you win the white belt world championships you could fast track your BJJ career and start building a following and sponsors may even reach out.
Unfortunately, if you love NoGi you won’t be able to compete in IBJJF tournaments as they only have a blue belt division. But don’t worry there are lots of other tournament organizers who hold NoGi competitions for white belts. They usually say that anyone with 1 year or less experience is eligible to compete, so you won’t have to worry about wrestlers who have been training for 10 years rag dolling you.
It is totally acceptable for white belts to compete in BJJ. Your coach will strongly encourage you to test yourself and compete as a beginner.
As the majority of BJJ practitioners are white belts tournaments are filled with white belt divisions. Tournament organizers make money on the number of competitors as each entrant has to pay an entry fee. They aren’t going to ignore their biggest source of profit and not have white belt divisions.
If you are a beginner you will never have to worry about a small bracket or not getting enough matches, white belt divisions are usually stacked with competitors. You can expect to have a minimum of 3 matches at every tournament you enter.
As you progress up the belts it can actually become harder to find matches at smaller competitions particularly if you are a girl or you are far below or above average weight. Good luck finding a deep super heavyweight black belt division bracket at a local tournament.
While as a white belt there is no rules on the minimum amount of training you need to compete, you can roll up off the street with no training and give it a shot if you like, it is best to train for at least 3 months before competing.
After 3 months of training, you should have enough basic skills to ensure you can navigate the fundamental positions in BJJ. You should know a couple of takedowns that you can try on the feet and a few guard passes, sweeps and submissions once you hit the ground.
While your technique won’t be the prettiest and you will still be making some fundamental mistakes after 3 months of being a white belt you should be able to have competitive matches with other white belts your size.
If you come from another grappling background such as wrestling or Judo then you can compete much quicker but be aware if you are a Judo black belt or have extensive wrestling you will have to compete in the blue belt division.
The blue belt division will be much more difficult than competing against white belts so it may be wise to still train solely BJJ for 3 months before jumping in there.