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How Long Is a BJJ Match

March 7, 2024

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a fairly modern martial art that demands physical and mental discipline, perseverance, and a strategic mind. Don’t expect to roll with a sparring partner or opponent and find your footing the first time around. The best BJJ fighters spend years developing a unique style that allows them to dominate their opponents. Reaching that level isn’t just about building your strength and learning the techniques; you need a sound understanding of the rules and how they apply to your weight class and skill level. 

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look into these questions as we reveal the factors determining match duration in BJJ battles – everything from skill levels and weight classes through strategic considerations to skill levels. Step on the mat with us as we learn about all the components that determine the length of a BJJ match.

Factors Influencing BJJ Match Duration 

BJJ has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades. With more competitors and an ever-growing audience, numerous international and national bodies have appeared to organize tournaments. The North American Grappling Association (NAGA) and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) are just a couple that operate in the United States and internationally.

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Each of the institutions has its own set of rules for tournaments. That means depending on the event, a BJJ match can have different weight divisions, competition types (Gi vs No-gi), point systems, legal positions, time limits, and submissions. That means the BJJ match duration for black belts is different than for white belts in most federations.

So, the first factor influencing match length is the rules for the organization hosting the tournament. Let’s get into some of the other primary factors that affect BJJ bout length.

Submissions vs Points: If a fighter is able to make their opponent submit before the entire match time is used, the fight is over. This can happen as quickly as a few seconds into a match or it may not happen at all. In a match where no submission is executed, the referee will award points for certain positions achieved by a competitor.

Skill level: Nearly every BJJ organization, from NAGA to the IBJJF, sets different time limits for different belt levels. As an example, it’s pretty standard for fighters at the blue belt level will have a shorter time limit than fighters with black belts. But aside from the allotted time, higher-ranked practitioners are more patient and can handle the intensity of a fight with grace and poise. They understand the value of conserving energy while strategically maneuvering for advantage. As a result, matches between two really experienced fighters can be slower and more methodical, turning into prolonged battles of wills.

Illegal moves and penalties: Every belt level has different illegal moves that competitors are not allowed to use in a match. Using an illegal move for your belt level will earn you a penalty or, in some situations, a disqualification that ends the match. 

Strategy: Every BJJ practitioner tries to play to their strengths. Some take a more aggressive approach and try to secure a submission quickly. This can cause a faster-paced, action-packed match. Other fighters are more defensive and work to nullify their opponent’s offense while waiting for opportunities to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes. A more passive, cautious approach can lengthen matches as the fighters wait to strike at just the right moment. 

Average BJJ Match Length

The typical duration of a BJJ match varies depending on the ruleset, belt rank, age category, and competition level. But if you generally look at the standard match length for adult division BJJ tournaments, they typically last between five and ten minutes. That’s the standard duration for adult matches in IBJJF tournaments, depending on belt rank and age category.

BJJ Match Time Limits

Most BJJ federations have their own rules, including forbidden moves, weight classes, and time requirements for matches. Matches are typically shorter for younger and less skilled fighters and longer for competitors in their prime and higher belts.

NAGA Rules

Time limits in events North American Grappling Association are broken down not just by skill levels but by age as well:

  • Kids & Teens Novice, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced – 3 minutes
  • Kids & Teens Expert – 4 minutes
  • All Masters, Directors, Executives Divisions (regardless of skill level) – 4 minutes
  • Adult Men & Women No-Gi Novice, No-Gi Beginner, Gi white belt, Novice/Beginner Absolute, White Belt Absolute – 4 minutes
  • Adult Men & Women No-Gi Intermediate, Gi blue belt, Intermediate Absolute, Blue Belt Absolute – 5 minutes
  • Adult Men & Women No-Gi Expert, Gi Purple, Brown, Black Belt, Expert Absolute, Purple Absolute, Brown/Black Absolute – 6 minutes.


In the IBJJF, each belt level has different time limits:

  • White Belt – 5 minutes
  • Blue Belt – 6 minutes
  • Purple Belt – 7 minutes
  • Brown Belt – 8 minutes
  • Black Belt – 10 minutes

There are also different match length rules for the ADCC World Championships, including for the qualifying rounds and the finals:

  • World Championships Nationals and Trials – 6 minutes (qualifying rounds) and 8 minutes (finals)
  • World Championships Qualifying Rounds – 10 minutes
  • World Championships Finals – 20 minutes

EBI Rules

The Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) is a No-GI-only open tournament open to competitors of all ages and countries. EBI matches are unique because they focus just on submission. Matches in this tournament are 10 minutes with overtime rounds if no fighters submit during the allotted time. Overtime consists of two sets and each set is allotted 2 minutes per set. There is a maximum of 3 rounds or 6 sets of exchanges in overtime. 

Time Limits for Gi and No-Gi BJJ matches

The time limits in GI and No-Gi BJJ Matches are typically pretty similar. No-Gi matches usually last from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on belt rank and other factors.

While all these tournaments and governing bodies have their own sets of rules, it’s important to remember that psychological considerations also play a large role in match duration. Experienced fighters with higher belt ranks often possess an increased threshold for frustration, which allows them to persevere through tough positions without easily giving in and conceding defeat. This prolongs matches as neither competitor wants to give in and accept defeat prematurely, resulting in exciting displays of technical skill from each competitor involved in each contest.


Ultimately, the two things that have the greatest impact on match length are which federation is hosting a match (and therefore what rules a match has) and the skill level of a fighter. Higher-ranked individuals typically engage in more strategic battles that emphasize defense and technique. Understanding these dynamics is important for fighters eager to deepen their understanding of this unique sport and improve in BJJ.

While there isn’t a single definitive average match length for BJJ, the durations mentioned above provide a general idea of the typical range of match lengths seen in various BJJ competitions. If you’re interested in registering for competitions, consult specific tournament regulations to learn about the match lengths for a particular event.