Jiu Jitsu purists love to say “A belt only covers two inches of your butt. It’s up to you to cover the rest.” While that sentiment is certainly in the spirit of Jiu Jitsu, learning the art for the sake of learning and not viewing a belt as a goal, belts can mean much more or different things than we often give them credit for. Our belts are a representation of our journey. They are a reminder of who we were, who we are becoming, and what we have endured to get there. Each stripe represents hundreds of hours of mat time and growth. Each rank represents a new responsibility and greater expectations; not to smash everyone in your path but to help others grow and follow in a similar path of growth as BJJ players and people.
For these reasons we felt that our belts should have a similar story. Just like no two players games are exactly the same, neither are two belts when they are hand dyed. Maybe you’d like to dye custom belts for your go to training partner who is about to receive his or her next grade or maybe you’re a professor that would like to dye belts for your students. Maybe you don’t want to dye your own belts at all and just want to check out how our belts get from our supplier to you with a little extra love but below is a short guide to our belt dying process (that is constantly under revision) so you can add a little FLOW to your game.
- New White Belts ready (We wouldn’t recommend dying your old belt ESPECIALLY if it’s not white. If it is white, retire it. Your past is just as important as your future.) Find ours online here
- 1 Pack/Bottle of Fabric Dye per 5 belts (We prefer RIT brand. It works well on all sorts of materials and fabric blends)
- Latex/rubber gloves
- 1 Bucket per color- make sure these are big enough to fully submerge the belt all at once.
- Some large sink/bucket to rinse belts and get them into your washing machine (This stuff WILL stain your carpet/floor)
- Your favorite beverage
- Wash your belt prior to dying. If you don’t know where your belt is necessarily coming from, it could have some oils and other things in it that can affect the outcome of the dying process. This step isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s definitely one you should consider
- Prepare all of your materials. Open your belts make sure your dyes are open. Fill one bucket with enough HOT water to submerge the belts. It is best to do them one at a time, but two or more shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Make sure the water is HOT, especially if you are using powder dye. Fill another bucket with cold water or get the sink running cold water. Put your gloves on.Note: Some dyes give instructions to add salt or some detergent to the mix. Feel free to follow those instructions but we haven’t found it particularly necessary (and quite frankly it takes some of the fun out of it). Plus, who has a pound of salt sitting around?
- Prepare dye. Pour the dye into your bucket of hot water. Stir it for about 30 seconds to make sure the dye is distributed throughout the solution
- Test the dye color. This is best if you have an extra piece of material lying around. I typically use a paper towel, but the color isn’t usually that true. Keep in mind, once you wash the belts they will come out lighter.
- Dunk your belt! Let the belt sit in the dye for a few minutes (3-5 should be more than enough) and mix it around periodically. Flip the belt over in the solution let it sit for another 3-5 minutes.
- Rinse/Dunk your belt in cold water. This helps it hold the color and rinses excess dye off. Once you finish the dying process, gather all of your belts and throw them in the washing machine on COLD. Let them run through the cycle and hang them to air dry.
CONGRATULATIONS, you just made your one of a kind Jiu Jitsu belt that is mat ready in about 24 hours. Now go out and train! You’ve got to roll as good as you look.
A note on belt colors:
To my knowledge, beyond the general color of the belt representing the grade the shade of the belt is personal preference. Experimenting with different mixes of dyes is half the fun and another way to add a personal touch to your belt. Follow the general rules of the color wheel, but have fun with it. It may be helpful to have a couple of extra belts on hand for experiments. The batch pictured here was dyed using 1 pack of RIT Royal Blue dye for the blue belts and a two-step process that used the remainder of the blue belt dye and a packet of RIT Scarlett dye for the purple belts. These came out pink at first (pictured above) so I put them through another cycle of Royal Blue dye and they came out with a light purple color.
Just like BJJ there is no true right or wrong, just what works for you (and what is acceptable at your academy) so once again, have fun with it and Flow.