How LONG Does It Take To Become a Black Belt?

What Does a Black Belt Mean?

If you are pursuing martial arts skills, becoming a black belt is a laudable achievement. However, the question lingers on many people’s minds: How long does it take to become a black belt?

A martial artist has to progress through the ranks and reach the pinnacle. Moreover, you can earn a black belt faster in specific martial arts disciplines than others.

But why is it so important for a martial arts student to earn a black belt? What does it mean? There are different martial arts with belt systems, and the black belt holds a great significance. When you earn a black belt, you have successfully combined physical strength and mental determination to overcome hurdles.

A martial artist with a black belt has demonstrated years of discipline, perseverance, and hard work. After becoming a black belt, the artists show responsibility to themselves and their community.   

Furthermore, a black belt has incomparable self-defense skills and emotional proficiency. Honor, respect, focus, and discipline are the hallmarks of a practitioner with a black belt.

However, earning the black belt is not a final destination. Instead, it is the beginning of a lifelong quest to learn using the tools it has provided you with. A martial artist wearing a black belt must pass the knowledge and experience and encourage other willing students.  

black belt

The Journey to a Black Belt Explained

The journey to a black belt is long; hence it helps to be patient and perseverant. You will have to train for years to master physical techniques as you develop your inner strengths like discipline, courage, and focus. The first step is to advance beyond the white belt, which is the initial stage.

A white belt signifies the open-mindedness you must possess to accept teachings from the master. Once you demonstrate faith and trust in the teacher, you will progress to a yellow belt. A yellow belt represents a seed. The martial artist with a yellow belt works on developing their quality skills.

A green belt shows growth, while a blue belt signifies maturity. When you earn a blue belt, you become mentally and physically strong as you progress towards the red belt.

A red belt symbolizes the brightness of the sun and the capacity to trounce setbacks and disappointments. In addition, martial artists with a red belt demonstrate an impression of goodness, energy, and patience.   

You have to progress through the ranks of several belts before earning a black belt. Every martial art’s requirement for making a black belt is different. For example, you require up to 10 years for some disciplines, while for others, you can earn a black belt in three years.

This variation is because of the different commitments and skill requirements. You need four years of consistent study and practice to earn a black belt.

men with black belt

Various Black Belt Journeys (Average Time to Get There)

As mentioned earlier, different martial arts disciplines require other times to earn a black belt. Here are the most common fields:

How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt in Karate?

Several variable factors determine how to get a black belt in karate. First, the master evaluates the student’s commitment and the standards of the issuing martial arts school. It takes five years of intense training to obtain the wisdom and spiritual growth you need to advance to a black karate belt.

Here is how the Karate black belt system works:

  • Provisional black belt (shodan-ho): this is a trial black belt meaning you get your black belt, but you must demonstrate that you genuinely earned it over time.
  • Junior black belt: this degree is similar to the provisional black belt, but it is for teen students who have 1st dan knowledge. However, the junior black belt does not have an adult’s life experience and physical abilities.
  • 1st to 5th dan black belt (shodan, nidan, sandan, yodan, godan) 6th to 10th dan black belt: this belt is sometimes bicolored or comes with different stripes of red, gold, or white. You will earn these dans for fine-tuning the art within yourself and not for learning new katas and moves.

Many karate organizations reserve the 10th dan for the founder or leader of a karate style. You can refer to a person having the 10th dan as Shodai-Soke.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Black Belt in BJJ?

Students who train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu usually undergo thorough training. Therefore, it is challenging to earn a black belt in this discipline. Besides that, it is also tough to progress through the ranks. For example, it takes three to five years to earn a blue belt. You will need ten years to earn a black belt in BJJ.

The BJJ ranking system gets its inspiration from the Judo belt-rank system. The black belt has nine different degrees of expertise similar to the classic Japanese martial arts.

In the black belt ranking system, rankings at seventh and eighth degrees have a coral belt. On the other hand, a red belt denotes the ninth degree. You must practice and teach at the black belt level for at least three years to progress to the next rank in the first three ranks.

The other ranks (4,5,6) require you to practice for five years to progress to the next level. After the seventh degree, you earn the red/black belt (coral belt), signifying you are an experienced practitioner. The eighth degree is a red/white belt, while the ninth/tenth-degree belt is the red belt. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Black Belt in Aikido?

To progress through the ranks of Aikido, you must have the right mindset more than technical and physical proficiency. You must practice diligently several times a week for about four to five years to earn the first level of the black belt.

Black belt levels in Aikido range from 1st degree (shodan) to 8th-degree black belt (Hachiman). In Tokyo, Japan, the Aikikai World Headquarters awards the black belt ranks.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Black Belt in Judo?

You must perfect your match-winning throws to move through the upper ranks of Judo. Judo features ten black belt “dans.” Earning the first “dan” hardly qualifies you as a judo expert.

Moreover, you will need three to six years to earn the first “dan.” There are ten levels of degrees for black belts in Judo. The highest-ranked Judo belt is the 10th-degree black belt.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do?

You can earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do faster than in the other martial art forms. Moreover, you will achieve the black belts in Tae Kwon Do degrees. For example, you will earn your first-degree black belt in three to five years.

Some schools require students to train for four to five years before earning a black belt. You must also pass a black belt test based on your school’s curriculum. It is common for students to fail the test multiple times.

So, how many degrees of black belt are there in Tae Kwon Do? This martial art discipline features nine black belt degrees. The “1st Dan Black Belt” is the basic, while the “9th Dan Black Belt” is the Grand Master Status which you achieve after practicing as an “8th Dan Grand Master,” which is the 8th-degree black belt.  

How Long Does it Take to Become a Black Belt in Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is arguably the most straightforward self-defense. If you train consistently for three to six months, you will start seeing some results. This is regardless of your experience and fitness levels. In this sense, you require about three years to earn a Krav Maga black belt.

How many black belts are there in Krav Maga? Black belt levels in Krav Maga depend on the Krav Maga organization. Nonetheless, there are up to 9 different black belts in this martial art. You start from the first and second-degree black belt as you progress through the ranks. 

You Have to Grow in Your Martial Arts Journey

You must demonstrate proficiency in the techniques you have received from your instructor to take the black belt test. The ideal situation is to learn from your mistakes and perform better and better as you grow.

Many other martial arts offer black belts, for example, Wing Chun and Muay Thai. However, it is critical to note that not all martial arts schools follow the belt system.

black belt athlete


Becoming a black belt requires patience, dedication, and hard work. These are the attributes you need to rise through the ranks. For example, you might need about six to nine months to progress from the white belt to the next belt level.

But, the type of martial art you are training in determines how long it takes to get a black belt. The martial arts classes will help you improve your physical strength, flexibility, mood, and self-confidence. You will also learn self-defense tactics and how to be aware of your surroundings.

So, how long does it take to become a blackbelt? The simple answer is- that it depends on the martial art discipline and your dedication to rising through the ranks. Read our article and find out How Much is a UFC Belt Worth?

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