5 Quick and Easy Steps on How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt Like a Master Practitioner
Welcome to the amazing world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! It is a martial art that emphasizes ground fighting and grappling, but more on that below. Before we get to the lesson on how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt, we want to emphasize that picking up any type of martial arts — whether Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do or Karate — at any age is a rewarding choice. You get the benefit of doing a sport and physical exercise that not only increases your cardiovascular ability, builds muscle strength, and improves your balance and reflexes, but you will also learn how to defend yourself. Most likely, most of us will never end up in an actual street fight where we have to defend our lives with our martial arts skills. However, knowing that, in theory, you could if you had to increases confidence and teaches a certain physical awareness and alertness that can come in handy even in less extreme situations.
Finally, martial arts such as Jiu Jitsu are, as the name suggests, both an “art” and “martial.” So you are part of a system that teaches honor, respect, and certain values and rituals that give your life a larger framework to operate within. It's a beautiful thing. Given all these factors, the matter of how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt may seem a trifle small.
However, learning how to tie your white belt (the first belt you will receive), is no small feat. It's difficult to neatly align the strands and to get a nice, tight and orderly looking loop and flat knot. It shows that you are ready to train, fight, and respect yourself, your fellow trainees, your teacher, and the whole discipline at large.
An improperly tied belt looks sloppy. An untidy, uneven long side can impede the practice, and worst of all, the belt coming undone when practicing or demonstrating a technique is annoying and unpleasant and will definitely give your opponent the advantage. A poorly tied belt probably needs to be re-tied several times during class, as it is likely to come undone. It's sloppy and disrespectful. You want to get to the point in your practice where knowing how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt comes without thinking and becomes an automated reflex like tying your shoelaces. Ready to tackle the matter? Read on.
What Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
If you're new to martial arts, or practicing a different type such as karate, you may not know what Jiu Jitsu — and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in particular — is all about. It is obviously a martial art and combat sport, but unlike Tae Kwon Do or Karate, for instance, it emphasizes fighting on the ground and grappling your opponent. It is a derivative of the discipline of Japanese Judo ground fighting principles but has been altered and adapted to become its very own distinct discipline. It is also centered around the notion that it is very much possible to teach a weaker, shorter person to fight a stronger, physically more dominant opponent.
Successful self-defense in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu means you quickly take your attacker (or partner, in class) to the ground, which then allows you to apply techniques such as choke holds and joint locks. It's quite the opposite of the kicking and punching of, say, traditional Shotokan karate. Sparring takes the form of “rolling.” To practitioners of the discipline, it's more than a sport and martial art. It's a way to build character and a way of living.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may seem like a newer martial arts adaptation, but it has been around since 1909 when Japanese-born Brazilian Geo Omori, a mixed martial arts practitioner, opened the first Jiu Jitsu school in Brazil. As with any history lesson, there are several names involved. You might want to take a closer look at the Gracie family who are recognized as adapting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as we know it today, along with three artists by the name of Luiz França, Carlos Gracie, and Oswaldo Fadda. To purists, the who's who of the practice is of great importance.
As we move on to the issue at hand, how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt, let's touch on one final idea. Jiu Jitsu is a Japanese term that means "gentle art." Keep in mind that "gentle" does not imply "tender." Rather, it represents cleverly using your attacker's very own force and strength against them, all without weapons.
Are There Different Methods for How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt?
Are there different approaches for how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt? The short answer is yes. And before we go any further, we'd like to say that the one and only right way to tie your belt in martial arts is the very way your own teacher ties it. Some people prefer wearing them more loosely on their hips. Others like a tight knot higher up on the waist. Your sensei, or master, will show you how to do it. Most teachers don't bother going into too much detail and show you very quickly, which means you have to rely on assistant teachers, fellow students, or the Internet to really learn it well enough so it doesn't become undone while grappling.
Here are four common methods of how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
The Basic Belt Tie
This method is very common and widespread in BJJ, especially for newbies. We will call it the “tight method.”
Fold your belt in half to determine its midpoint. Place the belt with its midpoint on your belly, right below the navel, and move both ends of the belt behind you so they neatly cross on the back and meet again in the front where you started, Ideally, both ends are the exact same length. Now you fold the right strand over the left and loop it underneath both belt rings from bottom to top. Next, you form the knot by folding the bottom strand over the top. Easy, right? You can practice in front of a mirror at first, but we recommend learning it without one so it becomes totally intuitive.
The Official BJJ Belt Tie
This method is based on how the original Judokas first tied their belts so there was no way the tight knots would become undone in a match. It's the specific BJJ way, similar to the basic method but with a small key looping twist that creates the desired tightness. Again, you begin by ensuring that you place the belt below your navel at precisely its midpoint. You pass the ends behind your back where they neatly cross and come back around to the front, the strands being the very same length. Now the left side is crossed over the right (as opposed to the reverse in the basic method) and drawn under both belt layers to come out on top. Next, the right strand is passed through the first layer of the belt toward the left, but here's where it changes: You don't pull it completely tight, but form a loop for the bottom belt to go through. This creates the desired tightness!
The Gracie Knot
We briefly mentioned the Gracie founding fathers in our intro, and revered as they are, their belt tying skills are still practiced today. Here's how to do it, but bear in mind that this method isn't very tight and only practiced by complete aficionados of the Gracie method.
You start just like you do with the above two approaches, but here's the marked difference. When the belt strands come around from the back to the front, they are not looped through the belt but simply tied into a knot in front. You can probably tell without even trying this yourself that without the looping and passing the strand under all levels of the belt, you end up with a much loser belt!
The Karate Way
The term Karate is sometimes used interchangeably to stand in for other martial arts. We actually asked a teacher about this. He said it came down to advertising. The word “Karate” on the side of his gym lured in people. If he advertised what he actually taught, which was Korean Tang Su Do, he might not be quite as successful. It made sense to us.
Hold one end of the belt on your left hip. Then take the other end around your back and to the front, over the first end. With this method, you end up with only one strand available at the front. You take this strand under all layers, from bottom to top and form the knot just like you do in the very first method above.
Please note that belt tying methods vary greatly from teacher to teacher and dojo to dojo, and also vary between types of martial arts. Some karate teachers would use method one, while some Jiu Jitsu teachers might place the belt above the navel rather than below. Women, for instance, sometimes prefer the placement of the belt a little higher. Again, defer to your own martial arts school and head teacher there.
5 Quick and Easy Steps on How to Tie a Jiu Jitsu Belt Like a Master
We've gone over several methods for how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt — correctly, efficiently and tightly — but what is the final official answer? Let's once again break it down into 5 very simple, easy-to-understand steps that we promise will become second nature after a while.
- Find the midpoint of your belt, either by eyeballing it or folding it in half and aligning the ends with each other.
- Put the middle of your belt on your stomach (such as over your navel or right below it, or wherever it sits most comfortably for your body type and physique) and wrap it around behind you (basically making an X behind your back) and pass each end off to the opposite hand. The belt, as it comes toward the front again, neatly lines up with the existing strand.
- Now lay down one end across your stomach and the other end over that (sort of like an X again).
- Next, grab the strand that's in front and loop under it and around everything (both strands) from below. You end up with one end hanging down and the other sort of sticking up.
- Take the downward-facing end and fold it over in the front. Then take the "up" end and loop it over and back up through the "down" end. Pull the ends taut to create a neat knot that allows both belt strands to hang down neatly and evenly on either side of your knot! Oss!
Are you confused yet? It is actually much simpler than it sounds once you practice a few times. Hilariously, when stressed, such as before attest or tournament, some fundamentals such as how to how to tie a Jiu Jitsu belt seem to fall right out of your head. You forget! Another thing that happens sometimes is that as your belt color changes, and with it your actual belt, it can have a different thickness or be more stiff or slippery than the belt you have become so used to. This can make aligning the strands neatly and creating a tight, neat knot more challenging again. But worry not. The way of the warrior is one of ultimate patience and gentle strength, right? Good luck with your martial arts endeavors! Hopefully, the idea of tying a belt has become a cinch!