The Coral Belt is one of the most coveted ranks in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, bjjfanatics.com, but it is not one that most practitioners will ever earn. The Coral Belt is a black and red belt, that is classed as the seventh degree of Black Belt.
Assuming that someone starts BJJ like scissor takedown when they are 16, they will not be able to become a Coral belt until they are 50 years old. The ranking for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for adults, works like this (there is a different system for children, starting at white and working up to Green and Black):
White belt – there is no minimum time in grade requirement for the white belt.
Blue belt – there is no minimum time in grade requirement for the blue belt if the practitioner spent some time graded under the kid’s system. If someone starts aged 18, then they are required to spend two years at blue belt.
Purple belt – a 16-17-year-old must spend at least two years as a purple belt. Someone who is aged over 18 must spend at least 18 months as a purple belt.
Brown belt – the minimum time in grade for a brown belt is one year.
Up to this point, the promotions are based on skill – a practitioner must spend the minimum time on each belt, but may spend longer at that rank if their in-gym or in-competition performance is not up to scratch.
Black belt – once someone earns a black belt, they are promoted based on time served.
The first, second and third degrees can be requested three years after the last promotion.
The fourth, fifth and sixth degrees of the black belt can be requested five years after the last promotion.
The coral belt can be requested seven years after the last promotion.
After coral belt, there are still the eighth, ninth, and tenth degrees – but it is highly unlikely that anyone outside of the original jiu-jitsu families would ever earn these. The red belt is, in essence, a lifetime achievement award.
The rules on promotion are quite strict. For example, while a purple belt can promote someone to blue belt (and this happens a lot in countries where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still quite rare), a black belt with zero stripes cannot promote someone to brown belt. This means that it is important for freshly promoted black belts to retain contact with their original instructors. A black belt is still just a ‘beginner’ in the art in many respects, and lineage and respect are very important. In other sports, you see people running off to start their own clubs once they get a teaching rank, and often setting up their own styles, but this is not something that you would see happen so much in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – offshoot clubs are common, but they will always respect the original instructor and the work that went into paving the way for them.