The black belt is a universally recognized symbol of achievement in the martial arts. It symbolizes a level of mental and physical strength that people in all disciplines of the martial arts work hard to attain, whether they earn a black belt in karate or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In most disciplines, the black belt sits at the top of the belt ranking system.
One of the questions we hear most frequently is about how long it takes to earn a black belt. The answer is not as simple as you might think.
Who Can Get a Black Belt?
Martial artists at every level engage in belt testing to test their skills. The belt system is set up to encourage regular progress and improvement. Beginner students are given a white belt to symbolize their novice status. As they master new techniques and skills, they may test for new belts. Each belt takes progressively longer than the last to earn, meaning that a student with a brown belt — the last rank before black — will study for a greater length of time than a student with a blue belt.
Any student starting out in the martial arts has the potential to earn a black belt but only if they are willing to commit to years of training and testing. Earning a black belt in Aikido or Muay Thai — or any other discipline — requires hard work and dedication. Black belts are given only to students who progress through the belt ranking system, mastering each technique and level.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Belt?
Students who want to get a black belt sometimes ask if they can rush the process. The short answer is no. In the early stages, students may progress quickly from a white belt to a yellow belt, or from yellow to orange. As they move through the belt ranking system, the time between tests increases.
We should note that the length of time between tests is not arbitrary. Even a gifted martial artist needs time to learn new techniques and skills and to prepare for testing. Black belt testing is administered far more infrequently than testing at other levels and it is usual for students to wait a year or more between tests at the highest levels.
A first degree black belt signifies a great achievement, but it does not mean that the martial artists who earn them stop testing. Black belts have degrees. After a student earns a fourth degree black belt, they may test to become a master.
Different martial art forms may vary in their testing requirements and in the number of belts. In some disciplines, a red belt is above a black belt in the belt ranking system.
In other words, the answer to how long does it take to get a black belt is that it takes years of training and testing. Wearing a black belt is something that is a symbol of honor in every martial art and earning a black belt takes time.
What Should You Do to Earn a Black Belt?
If you want a black belt, the most important thing you can do is to dedicate yourself to the martial art you choose, attend classes with a master instructor, and practice multiple times a week. It requires a lot of dedication and practice to earn black belts and even a 1st degree black belt represents an enormous achievement.
If your goal is to move through the belt system and earn a black belt, we’re here to help you achieve it. With dedication and experienced instructors — and the discipline to practice — you may someday have the honor of earning a black belt.