The 10th Degree Red Belts of BJJ


In my last blog post, I explored the topic of 10th-degree black belts in Judo, where the red belt is reserved exclusively for those who achieve the top rank of 10th degree.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the red belt is awarded to practitioners who reach the 9th or 10th degree. However, unlike in Judo, the BJJ red belt is no longer given out and is reserved for the five original Gracies who pioneered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

While there are 21 judoka with a 10th-degree rank in Judo, there are only five individuals in BJJ who hold the 10th-degree red belt. These legends are:

Carlos Gracie Sr. (1902-1994): The first Gracie to learn Jiu-Jitsu and subsequently create Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Gastao Gracie Jr. (1906-2001): Known for his spiritual beliefs, including seeing auras and healing through hypnosis, he was the least competitive of his brothers.

Jorge (George) Gracie (1911-1991): The first champion of the Gracie family, competing in Jiu-Jitsu, luta livre, wrestling, and Vale Tudo across Brazil.

Helio Gracie (1913-2009): A key figure in the establishment of BJJ alongside his brother Carlos, he remained dedicated to the art throughout his life.

Oswaldo Gracie (1904-1943): Considered the best fighter by Carlos, he was an instructor at the original Gracie Academy and defended the family name in numerous fights.

It's also important to note since the BJJ red belt is awarded for both the 9th and 10th degrees, there are many more holders of the 9th-degree red belt. Currently, there are 50 practitioners with this rank in BJJ.

The early history of BJJ is a blend of truth, myth, and confusion. For the most accurate research available in English, I recommend checking out Robert Drysdale’s two books:

- Budo Jake


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