Results: BJJ Demographics

Last week I provided some general demographic data about who exactly completed the 2012 BJJ belt promotion survey. This week I'm starting to get into the real meat of the data by focusing on some of the specific 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' demographics. The results/trends reported are all based on averages (corrected for outliers), but even with that it's important to bear the general demographics (see the previous week's post) of the sample in mind, before drawing any broader conclusions. 

Still, despite the typical survey limitations there are some nice trends which are likely to apply to their wider BJJ population (such as the time spent training by various belts, the proportion of roles for each belt, etc.). There are also some things that surprised me from the data, specifically:

1) The relatively high average age of people training in BJJ: I had kind of expected averages, at least for white and blue belts, to be in the low twenties, maybe teenagers and people in the early 20s aren't taking online surveys? 

2) Committed white belts: 6 hours would translate to roughly 3 x 2 hr classes a week or 4 x 1.5 hr classes. 3/4 sessions a week is certainly normal for lots of white belts but the average? It seems a bit higher than my personal experience suggests!

3) 6 hours being the mean/median average amount of hours trained: Again I had expected there would be more beginners training once a week that would pull down the average but while there are plenty of people who meet that profile they are offset by a large group training more frequently (typically 3-5 times a week). On a side note, the highest hours training a week reported was 40 and the lowest predictably was 0.

There's plenty more data to come and I haven't even touched the topic of gradings/belt promotions yet! So feel free to drop me a line if there is any specific data you are curious about. I'm also happy to share more detailed results with anyone interested in the statistical nitty gritty. Next week I'll dig into some of the psychological data relating to motivations and personality types.


Results: Survey Demographics

Well, its almost one year ago that I launched the belt promotion/grading survey and I haven't managed to get round to posting the results, as initially promised. I've got lots of good excuses for this (including having a newborn son, moving to Japan and being crushed by PhD work) but the fact remains that an update for the BJJ community, who collectively put hundreds of hours into completing the survey, is long overdue! 

As such, from now I'll be starting to post weekly updates that break down the interesting findings from the survey and hopefully help to provide some (partial) answers to longstanding questions surrounding BJJ belt promotions. I'll also be detailing how the findings relate to the ritual project I work on at Oxford and what exactly some of the more unusual questions were about ... but first up today is the basic demographics to help introduce who exactly the respondents are.

In total there were actually over 1,000 responses collected but due to dropouts/requests to keep data anonymous the final total sample ended up being 727. Women seem quite poorly represented with only 36 respondents but this could be representative of the overall proportion of women training (5% fits with my experience but I wonder if everyone else agrees?). There was a nice mix of experience levels but less national and ethnic diversity than hoped for. That said, given that the survey was in English and most respondents came from a selection of popular North American message forums such a skew was somewhat predictable.

I've represented the data in some infographics below and while some of it is rather unlikely to be relevant to the results or people's training experiences it is good to get a better idea of who the data analysed comes from.

The next post will start to dig into the more specific BJJ data, with a breakdown of the relevant BJJ demographics including team affiliations, years training, different schools attended, motivations for training and so on. Finally, just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who took part and for being so patient to hear about the results!


BJJ Belt Promotion/Grading Survey 2012


mage used with permission from  Scott Wallace

mage used with permission from Scott Wallace

Belt Promotions/Gradings are a part of every BJJ school and what they involve (or should involve ) often becomes a topic of heated debate across on-line forums. However, there is very little clear information  surrounding things like; just how common are belt whipping gauntlets and how painful are they typically? Do people roll during gradings and if so how many training partners do people roll with in an average grading? Do different teams have standardised grading procedures or does it vary club-by-club and teacher-by-teacher? Questions like these and many more are what the BJJ Belt Promotion/Grading Survey 2012 seeks to provide definitive answers to.


The survey has been designed by researchers at Oxford University and the data collected will also contribute to a large international academic project focused on exploring rituals across a variety of cultures and settings. Martial arts and combat sport's communities represent some of the most strongly bonded groups in modern societies and yet they are typically ignored by academic research.

It is my hope that this survey can simultaneously provide a host of interesting information and statistics to the worldwide BJJ community and also introduce world class researchers to the benefits that can be gained from working with martial arts communities. 

This blog will also be kept as an ongoing site for those who want to run other surveys focused on the BJJ community and if you would like your survey to be promoted please go to the contact page and drop me an email and I'll be happy to help!

Thanks for reading and I hope you will take 20-25 mins to complete the survey!