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How long does it take to get a Black Belt?

Hello everyone! This week I am answering another very common question that we get from beginners: "How long does it take to get a Black Belt?"

Let's start off by stating that in most legitimate Karate lineages, a Black Belt symbolizes when a student has trained hard for a significant period of time and is finally ready to start really learning the art. It is not a finish line. It is a representation of a prerequisite level of skill, fitness, and character development.

That being said, an average person who trains 2 - 3 times a week at our dojo can reasonably expect to take about 7 - 10 years to embark on their journey as a 1st degree black belt (Shodan). It is, however, never guaranteed...and it can most certainly never be bought! There is always going to be some variability depending on aptitude, effort, health, and any number of other factors that may come into play.

I often have parents who are concerned that their child is not keeping up with the belt ranks of other children they know in other martial arts. It is in these circumstances I remind them that they are usually comparing Apples to Oranges. A belt represents a certain level of skill within a specific martial arts program. If a black belt in some other random martial arts gym took 2 - 3 years to achieve, and it takes 7 - 10 to achieve in our Karate dojo, which student would generally have a higher degree of skill?

In addition, because of the maturity and character development components required before embarking on the journey at Shodan, our association does not award full black belts to students under the age of 18. We do, however, have a provisional rank that can be earned by long term students that do not yet meet the age requirements for Shodan. Long term students who are 16 or 17 years of age can test for their Junior Shodan. As previously mentioned, this is a provisional rank that allows the student to begin training some of the Shodan level curriculum before their 18th birthday. When the student reaches their 18th birthday, they must test for Shodan in order to continue this journey.

In closing, attaining a Black Belt is not meant to be easy. It should seem like a daunting task for a beginner, which is why we have 6 colour belt levels as milestones on the way to preparing for Black Belt. A true Black Belt is not something that can be bought. It must be earned with years of sustained effort, constant struggle, overcoming doubt and defeat, and pursuing personal growth.

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