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How long to Black belt?

Discussion in 'The Martial Arts Forum' started by Deputydave, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Deputydave

    Deputydave Millennium Member

    Feb 20, 1999
    This is a topic that was/is discussed on our forum Martial Warrior. Wanted to get input here as well. Thank you.
  2. I'd have to say that time to black belt varies from art to art and from person to person.
    I earned my 1st degree in TKD in about 8 months, but I busted my butt every day and helped teach kids classes and TKD just isn't that hard to get a hang of.

    It took me about 4 years to get my 1st in ninjutsu.

    I've been in Judo , ON and OFF for about 5 years now ( more off than on lately) and I'm a yellow belt.

    I've also been studying ( ON and OFF) with a mixed-arts guy (MTK, JKD, Kali, BJJ) since 1989 and I've never tested for any rank. But, I've also learned more from him than from the other arts I've studied.
    I stopped putting any emphasis on belt ranks any more. I only compete in Judo, from time to time, beyond which group to be in for a competition, ranking doesn't mean that much to me any more. I've got 3 black belts 1 in TKD, 1 in Ninjutsu and 1 from the Blue Press that keeps my .45 nice and tight and concealed well. ;f

  3. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    I don't think this subject could be done justice without describing the difference between the traditional view of Yudansha, and the 'modern' view.

    Remember, before there were Dan ranks in the Japanese martial arts, there were licenses ("Menkyo"), which were awarded as such:

    Menkyo Shoden- for recieving all of the core techniques of the school;

    Menkyo Chuden- for demonstrating an ability to instruct;

    Menkyo Joden/Okuden- for teaching for a long period of time, and producing a number of competent instructors (Chuden);

    Menkyo Kaiden- for having achieved 'mastery' of the art.

    Some schools also awarded a "Mekkyo", which was an honorific above Menkyo Kaiden, and authorized the holder to add new techniques to the art, etc.

    The Dan system was essentially an expansion on this.

    Since virtually all training under the Menkyo system was live-in training (deshi lived in the dojo, often for years, training from dawn to dusk), a Menkyo Shoden (which, nowadays, would be like a Shodan) could be earned in several months. A modern reflection of this, is the Yoshinkan Aikido Senshusei program, which is an 11-month, live-in training program- successful completion results in awarding of a Shodan.

    In the old belief, Shodan was intended to mean that the student was, finally, conversant enough in the art (as though it were a language, so to speak) to be a serious student. Those who were not of Dan ranking weren't 'students', they were guests in the dojo.

    Now, having explained my orientation, I have to say that I find the modern belief of 'rank' in the martial arts to not be in keeping with this ideal- in fact, it smells alot to me like marketing. I readily understand, of course, the need to have recognition for advancements in the predominantly part-time training environment of today, but multiple colored belts interspersed with multiple colored pieces of tape is, to me, a money-making scheme, which requires an "ultimate goal" in order to keep the customer paying. That goal has been set, artificially, as "attaining a black belt"- when, in fact, such attainment ought to be seen as the first step toward becoming a serious student, not an end unto itself.

    So, to answer the question-

    "As long as it takes to establish the desire of the student to become a serious practicioner, and for him to be conversant in the art".

    I don't think this is something which can be measured in chronological time.
  4. Cowgunner


    Dec 18, 2001
    my sensei would say "as long as it takes for you to build your skill level." over the past 6 years I've seen only 4 students get their black belt, and the average is roughtly 10 years.
  5. Joshua M. Smith

    Joshua M. Smith Shootist

    Mar 17, 2005
    Wabash IN

    Sir, I learned without the belt system.

    I would be what Roundeyesamurai said is called Menkyo Chuden. I am currently teaching the CQC system that I learned. (I must interject that this is not a true martial art though it is primarily Aikido based).

    It took me about a year to get here and I'm teaching a six-year-old and a seventeen-year-old. The 6yo has beat the 17yo several times. Goes to show it's the person.

    I do however add techniques as I learn further from others and have recently brought the pistol in as well.

    Josh <><
  6. Reservecop55


    Sep 27, 2002
    Portland OR
    My Master (7th Dan Hapkido) teaches us belts hold your gi together. Learning the art is what is important. It takes as long as it takes
  7. kerwin


    May 5, 2004
    CDOC, Philippines
    I started playing Judo in 1986. I passed the 1st Dan examination recently. I got it after finally deciding to take the exam. I took the exam because my brown belt was getting shorter. I guess i just needed a new belt.
  8. Ishiguro


    Jul 20, 2004
    The minimum where I am is 3 years and 300 classes, but most people are not good enough b/c they haven't trained outside of class. So ultimately you take the test when you are ready to take the test.
  9. gr81disp

    gr81disp Bushbot v1.0

    Sep 19, 2004
    Marietta, GA
    NOT a BB but from my instructors and such, if you are REALLY good and dedicated to Bjj, you can get one is about seven years. Average is about twelve (for those that study that long).
  10. Adam Thiel

    Adam Thiel

    Jan 13, 2003
    The Wild West
    It took me about 9 years to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, and I already had a few years of wrestling before that.
  11. gr81disp

    gr81disp Bushbot v1.0

    Sep 19, 2004
    Marietta, GA
    Ya know, to this day, my jaw hits the floor thinking about BJ Penn. BB in FOUR years.
  12. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    It's interesting to see the different permutations of the Kyu/Dan system and the developmental steps they represent.

    In particular, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's system is interesting: Each belt being, in and of itself, a certification level, culminating in a 'mastery' for which a black belt is awarded. I can see a good deal of logic in this approach, and I think it best fits Jigoro Kano's notion of the colored belt system.

    It's essential to acknowledge, when using one's own system to evaluate others, that not all 'black belts' are alike. Indeed, in the systems in which I've trained the most, and now teach, "colored belts" (when used) represent minor developmental goals for part-time students, with the understanding that they remain 'guests' in the dojo until reaching Yudansha grade. For the committed, full-time students, a white belt is worn until they achieve Dan grading, because the belt isn't representative of 'rank'. The white belt is then discarded for a black belt, which signifies Dan grading (which, as stated previously, can occur in a year for live-in students). A yudansha who demonstartes sufficient development to train others to Dan grade, demonstrates this by wearing a hakama.

    So, by comparison, what we would call a Shodan (first-degree black belt), would be a purple belt in 'BJJ'. What 'BJJ' would call a black belt, we would refer to as a Yondan (fourth-degree black belt).

    It's kind of like the military- what the Marines call a Captain, the Navy calls a Lieutenant, and what the Navy calls a Captain, the Marines call a Colonel. The pay grades are the same, just the titles are rearranged.
  13. ElectricZombie


    Sep 15, 2003
    I started training in Kuntaw about 7 months ago and just got my promotion to yellow belt today. It will probably take at least 5 years to earn a black belt.

    I read a lot of posts online where many schools give out promotions every 2 or 3 months. I do not see how anyone can really master the requirements for a level in that amount of time.
  14. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    Well, EZ, my feelings about certain schools aside (I shall refrain from using the term "McDojo" in this post LOL), there is also the different promotional structures of different styles.

    Some schools don't use solid belts alone- rather, they may have several solid belts, each interspersed with a number of stripes. A system with, as an example, 5 colored belt ranks (above white and below black), with four stripes on each belt, would have, in essence, 29 promotions between white belt and black belt. If there were 300 individual pieces of information with which one had to demonstrate proficiency, that would break down to roughly 10 per promotion. 29 promotions, and a 30th promotion to black belt, would cover 5 years if the promotions were given every 2 months.

    As for the individual techniques- 300 might sound like a terrific number, until you realize, as an example, that there are probably 30 permutations of the 'side kick', alone, and each of them being counted as an individual technique. It's still a side kick.

    In other words, the requirements for each 'promotion' look exactly the same, just with different variations of the same techniques.

    Without using the term I promised not to use, this is a way for certain schools to bring in more money- on top of your monthly fee, "floor fee", "association membership fee", etc., now tack on a testing fee every other month.

    It's business, not teaching.
  15. gr81disp

    gr81disp Bushbot v1.0

    Sep 19, 2004
    Marietta, GA
    It is Bullshido. :D
  16. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    ;f I love that site.
  17. Hesparus


    Sep 20, 2004
    New Mexico
    In my school, dan ranking is based on mastry of the circles associated with them. To earn a first dan we have to show an understanding and proficiency of techniques containing a single circle. Second dan requires understanding and proficiency of two circles, and so on. A couple of times we've had an over-achiever who learns all of the techniques on the shodan list in less than a year but although they can do the techniques they have poor basic skills and very little understanding of how the techniques actually work. It is really the understanding of the techniques, rather than the ability to do them, that earns us ranks.
    I spent five years on my shodan and so far it's been four years working towards my nidan.

    - Chris
  18. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
  19. mhill


    Dec 7, 2001
    St. Louis, MO
    If you work at it 6 days a week and work hard at it, I'd say 2 years is doable in a real school.

    Once you learn that the color of the belt doesn't matter you will have learned much.

    I've been all the colors and I've always liked red. It's too bad they won't let me wear that one anymore. ;)

  20. lethal tupperwa

    lethal tupperwa

    Aug 20, 2002
    give you a bb if you asked and then tell you not to come back.