Generations that martial artists have asked the really same question – how long go it take it to acquire a black belt? being curious about it is normal.

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Deep down, everyone has actually an natural need to measure progress. Us all desire to feel a sense of certainty and know our location when striving towards a goal – also in martial arts.

So, let’s delve into what it means to it is in a black color belt and learn how long it takes to become one.

Here’s what we’ll cover.

What You’ll discover about Getting a black color Belt

Origins & objective of Martial arts Belts

Before tackling the question, friend need to know the definition of hold a black color belt. It isn’t what you think.


Jigoro Kano

Many human being regard the black belt as the ultimate goal of a martial artist. They think that acquiring it is the be-all and end-all of your training.

After all, a black belt amounts to mastery of a martial art, doesn’t it? That’s likely why you’d desire to quantify the time taken to acquire one, right?

The trouble is… black belt doesn’t stand for mastery; not even close.

Here’s a brief history of the martial art belt system, i beg your pardon will aid you understand what it initially meant to it is in a black color belt…

Menkyo Grading mechanism for Traditional Koryu Martial Arts

via Kyushin Ryu Jujitsu Australia

Before modern-day martial arts (gendai budo) to be founded, the Japanese civilization trained in timeless martial arts. This were well-known as koryu bujutsu.

For simplicity, koryu bujutsu deserve to trace their origins to 1868 and before.

What’s unique around koryu martial art is the menkyo grading system. This grading system lengthens the moment taken because that martial certification.

Instead that belt colours, the menkyo device was based upon licenses. Each license recognizes the practitioner’s competence in a set of techniques, which take years come attain.

Eventually, a practitioner becomes eligible because that Menkyo Kaiden (a final license the permits them to transmit the full martial art). The compensation of Menkyo Kaiden is, that course, based upon the head instructor’s discretion.

Kito-ryu, the main ancestor martial arts of Judo, used the menkyo system.

Modern Kyu/Dan Ranking system (Martial arts Belt System)

Modern Japanese martial arts adopted the belt ranking system that was invented by Kano Jigoro, founder that Judo.

Started with only White and also Black Belt

At first, Kano only wanted a means to acknowledge his student by dan rank and also the absence of one.

Jigoro Kano

So, he designated only two obi belt colours: black and also white in 1886. Black was because that ranked practitioners (yudansha), if white to be for unranked practitioners (mudansha).

Since martial arts uniforms (gi) had not been designed yet, martial arts practitioners wore kimono. Your “belts” to be simply timeless obi.

More Belt colour & contemporary Belt System embraced by various other Martial Arts

After Judo began to infect the west, Mikonosuke Kawaishi added more belt colours.

His rationale for doing so was to aid motivate western practitioners and demonstrate exactly how they to be progressing. Using the old Menkyo system, or the original black-and-white-belt-only device would have actually discouraged countless would-be beginner from even training.

Other martial arts favor Karate, Aikido, and also even non-Japanese combat styles began to embrace and adapt the Judo belt device for their own needs.

So, what walk the black belt originally represent?

For numerous martial arts, earning your first-degree black color belt (shodan, chuduan) doesn’t make you an professional or master. It just signifies the you have actually a high level that competency in a set of techniques.

What walk the black belt initially represent?

According to the longitudinal study ‘A way to mastery. Mastery in martial arts‘, a first-degree black color belt martial artist “does not know the whole curriculum yet”. So, how have the right to a person who walk not understand the full syllabus be recognized as a master?

Moreover, in Japan, martial artists usually need to acquire at least a fifth-degree black belt (godan) prior to being conferred a different title of instructor. This information is bring away from the an extremely same study.

Even more compelling, Jigoro Kano (founder that Judo and also creator of the martial art belt system) plan the first black belt location “to represent completion that the an initial step that training“. There room ten levels of black belt altogether in Judo!

So, if you think the black color belt indicates true mastery the a martial art, friend are way off. First-degree black belts space literally beginning to come to be masters.

Are there differences in how the black color Belt is regarded?

Surprisingly, the means the west and east regards the black color belt (first-degree) is quite different.

Martial artists who train external the martial art’s country of origin, often tend to overstate the prominence of the first-degree black color belt. It’s together though someone with a first-degree black color belt is some sort of grandmaster.

Perhaps this comparison is because of differing cultural perception.

Ultimately, dojos affiliated to Japan (or any type of other beginning country) headquarters do share a similar idea of what first-degree black color belt signifies – beginners to the journey. However, if the origin nation takes the word “beginner” literally, foreign martial artists regard it together an abstract description.

An Exception: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu’s (BJJ) first-degree black belt is an exception to the original significance given by Kano come the black belt. Uneven its ancestor martial art, Judo, BJJ’s belt colour representation is different. Rigorous sparring suffer is also a substantial factor in grading.

Where a first-degree black color belt is regularly regarded together a beginner in Japan (not standard to be master), an initial dan black color belts in BJJ are considered experts.

Having established that black color belts (at least in the initial couple of degrees) are beginners in the feeling of the journey, let’s further explore what being a black belt means.

What walk it typical to be a black color belt?

If you’ve trained in martial arts because that a lengthy time, getting a black color belt have to be the worst letdown ever. There’s so lot hype around it. However nothing actually changes after you get it.

Think around it.


Nothing special Happens

You don’t all of sudden feel fearless. And, you absolutely don’t gain extraordinary skills.

If your techniques were shit before, that truth doesn’t change after gaining your black color belt. Of course, friend can hide your inadequacies behind the belt. However, the fact reveals itself eventually, if you desire a black belt prior to being prepared for it.

You don’t feeling worthy that the belt

It often takes time because that a brand-new black-belt to feeling worthy the their belt. As whole proficiency in a collection of methods doesn’t average being equally good in every techniques. Hence, you frequently have come train more difficult on your weaknesses to truly be top top par through what the belt signifies. This renders it obvious that black belt doesn’t necessarily typical mastery.

Taking the procedure for Granted

What many civilization know, yet fail to internalize, is that the black belt is a culmination of training from the time a human has a white belt. It is the countless trials, mistakes, feedback and also corrections that fine-tunes a skill.

In that journey, the martial artist also gains an intuitive grasp of exactly how to deal v sudden attacks.

So no. You don’t just obtain a black color belt for showing up. You knife it.

Your journey to mastery has actually only BEGUN

In fact, a black belt does not also represent the end of her martial arts journey. The process of fine-tuning never ever ends.

Instead, it signifies that you are reasonably experienced in most of her techniques, which enables you come explore advanced concepts. Without strong fundamentals, forget about even trying out anything abstract.

So, if friend are among those who regard the black belt together a standing symbol, then welcome to “worshipping” an illusion. You have actually a lot more work to perform for true mastery.

So, what walk it typical to be a black belt?

Take the black color belt for what the is – a piece of towel that tells you that you are all set to happen the gateway.

What gateway?

The gateway the separates what you know you currently know (fundamentals) from insights that you don’t even know existed. The trip never ends.

So, are there much better questions come ask if you room interested in proficiency and mastery.

Clarifying the question

Is it yes, really a question of black belt or true mastery of her martial art?


When someone asks “how lengthy does it take it to gain a black belt?”, more often than no they space asking around the time taken for martial art proficiency and also mastery.

So, let’s be clearer and refine the inquiry for martial artists in various stages of their journey.

Everyone – just how long does it take to understand a martial art?

We’ll tackle just the black color belt concern today, and also answer the last two questions in the next component of the series.


How long does it take it to gain a black color belt – in assorted martial arts?




According to a longitudinal examine (conducted indigenous 1998 come 2014), the typical time taken to acquire a first-degree black color belt is ten years. Of course, this duration differs amongst various martial arts. The shortest recorded training time is four years, if the longest to get a first-degree black belt is twenty-seven years.

The research measured the moment taken for these martial arts: Aikido, Iaido, Judo, Jujutsu, Karate, Kenpo, Kobudo, Taekwondo and also Wing Chun. It also used an approximate grade because that martial arts that perform not traditionally award black belt.

Differences in between the martial art’s beginning country and foreign countries

Yet, on assorted forums, countless agree the students in Japan (and in Asia) end up being first-degree black belt significantly quicker 보다 in various other countries. The factor for this is probably the western concept that black color belts room masters, and also that it have to be an exclude, privilege. So, to adapt to this myth, plenty of overseas dojos make the requirements more an overwhelming to reach.


This isn’t a difficulty for Japan due to the fact that there is little misconception end what a first-degree black belt is. Also, as mentioned, most of the time fifth-degree black color belts and beyond are seen as martial artists who have actually truly master the syllabus. One koryu equivalent, under the menkyo grading system is the holder that a Menkyo Kaiden (license of full transmission).

Now, appropriate to this discussion is even if it is a shorter time frame (to acquire a black color belt), has actually any negative impact top top legitimacy. For instance, is the dojo a McDojo or black-belt mill. This is a topic the we will cover in later parts of the series.

The time take away to obtain a black belt (broken under by martial art style)

Breaking down the moment taken to gain a black belt by martial art format is naturally meaningless. After all, it depends vastly ~ above the cook instructor, the quality of instruction in ~ a details dojo and how the grading syllabus is structured.

Nevertheless, right here are declaration by both martial artists and dojos.

Shihonage via Magyar Balázs

How lengthy does it take it it gain a black belt in Aikido?

According to Jikishinkan Aikido Dojo’s FAQ, that takes most human being four to five years to acquire first-degree black belt, detailed they train several times each week. Gold shore Aikikai’s FAQ provides a slightly various answer; five to 6 years top top average, once training 4 to 6 times each week.

The poll native AikiWeb sums it up – the time varies among individuals and dojos. The bulk of practitioners take it 3 come 6 years. Some take much less than a year, and also others more than 12 years.

The Aikido Fast-Track Option

There is a legitimate 11-month International Sehusei Course by Yoshinkan Aikido Headquarters that awards first-degree black color belt certifications. Although the takes only 11 months, trainees train 4 hours for 5 days every week – regularly longer. That’s an calculation of 880 hrs of maintain – same as someone that trains for 2 two-hour session each week because that 4.5 years.

BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu)

How long does it take it it obtain a black belt in BJJ?

It takes up to ten years to acquire a black color belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and ranges indigenous 4 come 16 years. BJJ calls for not only technical ability but additionally verifiable sparring ability. Also, stated earlier, the grading system and belt significance are different from the consistent dan/kyu ranking.

Of course, just like all martial arts, there space outliers through prodigious skill, people who have trained in another similar martial art, or both. Below is a list of BJJ martial artists who took under 4 years to obtain a black belt.


What around Judo – the martial art whose founder came up v the martial arts belt system? how long walk it take to get a black belt here?

One to 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and perhaps longer. You gain the point. The varies.

The Judo Fast-Track Option

Similar come Yoshinkan Aikido, the is possible to gain a black color belt in Judo within a year, graded by the Kodokan in Japan. And it is definitely not easy.

Japanese Jujitsu

Japanese Jujitsu? exactly how long go it take to get a black belt in this style?

According come Goshin Martial art – up to 7 years however usually four to 5 years because that shodan (first-degree) black belt. A handful it s okay it in much less than four years.

For Ju-jitsu facility – about three years.

Again, this simply goes to present that that really depends on the dojo.

Karate competition 2011 via Claus Michelfelder

How lengthy does it take to get a black belt in karate? Again, that depends.

The Japanese Karate Association, in Japan, states a minimum of three years the diligent training. Every subsequent degree of black color belt takes numerous years.

King Lam’s Tamashii Karate and also Tai Chi Center, i m sorry teaches Shotokan Karate state 2 to 5 years to be the norm.


How long does it take to acquire a black belt in Taekwondo? It seems there space parallels come Japanese martial arts graded in their residence country; the takes much faster to get a black belt in southern Korea.

Sidney Mangoye’s Quora Answer

In south Korea, whereby I live, girlfriend can gain a Taekowondo black belt in 6-7 months v an extensive training (everydays, 1-2 hrs -usually for foreigner), and the test because that this belt is pretty serious. <…> I have actually a korean friend who defined me that he got his black color belt throughout his military company in 4 month, however it to be something else (if you can perform 6 hours of really extensive training everyday, friend are great to go) <…>

Roam Thorsteinsson’s Quora Answer

I completed my black color belt in ~ 14 and also am one of only 6 world in my whole organization to have done so. For this reason it take it me 6 years, cultivate 2–3 times a main on average.

Bottomline: Time required to Earn a black Belt


There are many factors that affect the length of time for you to earn a black belt. Evidently, from the above, every martial art style, each variant that a style, and also each dojo is different. The top quality of indict is likewise a factor.

Hence, v these differences, knowing just how long on mean it take away to gain a black color belt is meaningless. Friend can’t use the average an outcome and expect a details dojo to fall within the time frame.

It is enough to recognize that the selection for earning a first-degree black belt is between four come twenty-seven years if you space training in martial arts for leisure.

If you really want to know how long the takes to become a black color belt in ~ a specific dojo, one of two people ask the senior students or the instructor(s).

More come Come – Martial arts Proficiency & Mastery


Using the black color belt as an indicator the mastery relies on a fault assumption. Instead, we must ask specific questions on martial arts mastery to yield useful insight. In the same vein, beginners are more likely to it is in interested in the time that takes to be an excellent enough. They’d quite know exactly how much time they should train to mobilise their an abilities in real life.

The next component of the collection will cover precisely that.

Also, v regard come the inquiry of “how lengthy does it take it to obtain a black color belt?”, us will check out the factors for civilization to questioning the concern in the an initial place. And find out why part senior-ranking martial artists have expressed annoyance towards the question.

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Lastly, anyone is interested in increasing the procedure to gain mastery or become a black color belt. How do you carry out it? Is this only possible through Mc Dojos (and black belt mills)?

Articles in this collection (including upcoming ones)

In short, here’s what you have the right to expect to come:

How to gain a black color Belt Fast? accelerating Martial art Mastery

Leave a comment to let me know what you think.