The BJJ black belt is a very prized possession in the martial arts community. It is arguably the most difficult belt to achieve in martial arts.
The road to a black belt is usually a long and hard one full of ups and downs. The average time to get promoted to black belt is from 8 to 14 years. The following individuals did not go through the ranks like the rest of us. They went straight to black belt.
Many of them had years, even decades of grappling experience in similar arts (Wrestling, Sambo, Judo, Luta Livre, Catch Wrestling, Japanese Ju Jitsu) and a BJJ instructor deemed them ready for the BJJ black belt.
1. Randy Couture
UFC legend, Randy Couture was awarded a ‘No Gi’ black belt following his win over Boxing champion, James Toney at UFC 118 by his grappling instructor Neil Melanson.
Neil Melanson explained that he has his own belt system that is a copy of the BJJ belt system.
2. Milton Vieira
Milton Vieira is a Luta Livre and BJJ black belt widely credited as the inventor of the anaconda choke. Vieira was promoted straight to BJJ black belt by Murilo Bustamante and competed in several top grappling competitions.
3. Edgar Kruyning
Dutch Martial artist Edgar Kruyning of Ede Budo Yoseikan (A form of Traditional Japanese Ju-Jitsu) was promoted straight to black belt in BJJ by Carlos Toyota. Kruyning had never formally trained BJJ or held BJJ belts previously, but holds several degrees and black belts in multiple disciplines.
4. Ray Stevens
British Judoka Ray Stevens (silver medalist a Olympics) was promoted from White Belt to Black Belt after 8 years training BJJ.
5 and 6. Marco Ruas and Eugenio Tadeu
Two Luta Livre black belts, Marco Ruas and Eugenio Tadeu were promoted straight to BJJ black belt by Joe Moreira. This was met with a lot of criticism at the time, notably from Carlson Gracie.
7. Ričardas Piepolis
Lithuanian grappler Ricardas Piepolis has years of experience in grappling, and karate. During a trip to Japan, he trained with Japanese MMA/BJJ legend Yuki Nakai. The Japanese was so impressed by Piepolis’ grappling skills that he promoted him directly to black belt in BJJ. Many people in Lithuania didn’t believe him at first, so they even wrote to Nakai asking about the promotion and Nakai confirmed it.
8. Stanislav Nedkov
Stanislav Nedkov is a Bulgarian professional mixed martial artist, who formerly competed in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Nedkov began wrestling when he was 10 years old. Nedkov has also studied in sumo under Kotooshu Katsunori and won his first grappling championship a year after he began learning Brazilian jiujitsu. He was promoted straight to BJJ black belt by Bruno Bastos.