If it’s your first time trying BJJ, there is a chance that you don’t have any idea what the ideal gi looks like. Some wear oversized judo gis while others rent whatever is available in the academy. But another thing that beginners often miss is the belt.
Some awkwardly wear their belts above the navel while tying it in weird ways. The result is a belt that’s either too long or too short.
Just how long should your BJJ belt be? Here’s a simple guide that you should follow if you don’t want to look like the weird new white belt in class.
IBJJF Rules on Belts and Gis
IBJJF is the biggest organization in Jiu Jitsu in the world. They are known to organize regional tournaments and big tournaments including the Worlds, Pan Ams, Euros, and the Asian Open.
And if you will be joining their tournament, you will first need to pass the scrutiny of gi checkers on your uniform. In reality, it isn’t just your gi that is being checked. The gi checker will also take a closer look if you trimmed your nails, if you are using a groin cup, and also the state and length of your belt.
There are usually a couple of reasons why gi checkers make players change their belts. First, the belt may be already worn out. Second, the color is not accepted according to the IBJJF standards. It could be too faded or you are using a belt with a different shade of whatever belt color you are supposed to be. Third, it doesn’t have a black sleeve where you place the stripes. And fourth, the length of the belt should hang from 20 to 30 cm once tied in a double knot. That’s around 7.8 inches to 11.8 inches on each side.
To be safe, we’d recommend that you have a belt dangling around 10 inches from each end. This is safe since you won’t go longer or shorter than what is prescribed in the rulebook.
If you happened to be competing, bring an extra of everything from your gi to your belt to make sure that you can save yourself the stress of scrambling for a uniform in case you don’t make it past the gi checker.
Shopping for Belts
If you happened to be shopping for a BJJ belt, people often use their gi size as a reference to the size of the belt that they buy. It’s common that people buy an A1 belt if they have an A1 gi.
At first, this might seem like a good idea. However, there are many reasons why we’d suggest that you stick to a belt that is 1 size higher than the gi you are using. It means that if you are using an A1 gi, you might as well stick with an A2 belt.
One, you want to have some elbow room for your tummy. People’s weight can fluctuate. There are times when people gain weight because they were injured or sometimes just because of the holidays. Whether it was your intention to bulk up or not, having a belt that is a size higher than your gi can ensure that it won’t look too short for you.
Next, another reason why you want to have a belt that is a bit long is because it shrinks in time. If you are the type of white belt who never washes his or her belt thinking that all the techniques are going to get flushed along with the dirt and bacteria in your belt, then you might minimize the shrinkage on your belt. However, you risk yourself and your training partners catching staph and other common conditions you see on the mats. Just imagine the belt in contact with your sweaty gi and sweaty partners. Ideally, it is a good idea to wash the belt every after roll or at least twice every week.
Asking the Measurement
Ever experienced buying a gi that feels too small or too big for you? Some A1 gis might feel like an A0. The same goes for belts. Just like gis, there’s no standard measurement for belts.
To be sure that you are getting the right size, read the reviews or ask the brand about the measurement of their belt.
Why You Don’t Want The Belt to Be Too Long or Too Short
So just how big of a deal is it to have a belt that isn’t too long or too short? If you have a belt that is too long, it can be an extra grip from your opponent. A lot of competitors are known for using their opponent’s belt to their advantage. Whether it’s a single-leg attempt from sit up guard or a worm guard using your belt, having a belt that is too long can be considered a handicap while rolling. On the other hand, you also don’t want to deprive your opponent of a belt grip during rolls.
A neatly tied belt is seen by more traditional academies as a sign of respect to his or her training partners. Finding the right length for your belt is a way of showing respect to your training partners.