Jocko Willink Explains How to Get a BJJ Blue Belt

Jocko Willink is a man of many talents—Navy Seal, author, popular podcast host—Jocko does it all. In addition to these accomplishments, Willink is a BJJ black belt. On episode 73 of the Jocko Podcast, Jocko and his co-host, Echo Charles, discussed how to get a blue belt in BJJ. Blue belt is the second adult rank in BJJ at schools that do not use yellow, orange, and green belts for adult practitioners. Below are some highlights of Jocko’s and Echo’s conversation.

Jocko Willink BJJ

Jocko on the Effects of Age and Athleticism on BJJ Progress

“There’s not a level playing field for every person. In other words, it’s not like, ‘Here are the skills required for blue belt.’ It’s not like that. It’s also not about ‘How do you as a blue belt do against these other blue belts?’

“I know this sounds a little cliché, but it’s really how good are you against you?

“Let’s say you get someone who starts Jiu Jitsu when they’re 55 and they train until they’re 62. They can only train so much. But they learn the moves and they get better. Ten years go by and there’s a chance that they’re gonna be a black belt based on the fact that hey as a 55-year-old person that started training and the moves that you’ve learned and how you’ve applied them. According to your athletic ability and your physical capability at the time, it’s been ten years which is acceptable for a black belt.

Jocko BJJ
Jocko Willink BJJ

“You might get a young guy that’s athletic who in two years will destroy [that older guy] but he’s not getting his black belt because you’re saying ‘What’s his potential? How good can you be as a black belt?’ That’s the question.

“It’s almost a compliment the longer it takes to get your belts. [The longer it takes], the better your instructor thinks you’re gonna be.”

Jocko on the Little Things That Go into Earning a BJJ Blue Belt

“There are so many little things, like the reason an instructor might be influenced to give someone [a belt.] Typically, they’re not gonna give someone a belt based solely on the fact that he taps out that brown belt, but it is influenced by that.”

Jocko Willink blue belt
Jocko Willink

Jocko on the Importance of Mindset in Earning a BJJ Blue Belt

“The belt really doesn’t have to do with how good you think you are or how good you even know you are. For example, I’m a white belt hanging with the purple belts. I’m tapping blue belts and I’m giving brown belts a hard time. So I should be a blue belt.

“It doesn’t matter at all [whether you think you should be a blue belt]. I know it sounds like an exaggeration. Your skill is evaluated by your instructor. That’s the reason why you can be at a certain level, leave [and get better], come back and still not advance. Your instructor has to evaluate you.”


When Jocko gives you advice, you better listen. If you’re still pursuing your blue belt, heed Jocko’s words, and you’ll be a member of the blue belt club before you know it!

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