Getting a black belt in 1-2 years

I’ve been at my current dojo for about two years. It takes a minimum of 6 (I think) years to get a black belt and most people seem to get it between 7-10 after starting and one or more failures along the way. Even the crappy Park District program I was in when I was younger would take about five years to get a black belt.

One thing I constantly hear about, at the school, on web sites, in magazines, are these mythical schools where one can get a black belt in 1-2 years. I have never heard a name of a particular school mentioned, nor can I find a school that will promote someone that quickly. I presume a school that would allow this would have a high curn rate and would be advertising all over the place. The quality of the student, I think, would be pretty poor.

My question: do these schools actually exist? If so, where the hell are they? I toyed with the idea of getting a black belt through one of these schools while still attending my school. If no one can name one of these schools, I think I might actually be able to pull off having a black belt, so long as I’m still working hard at my real school.


Sorta the sleazy way of doing it, ain’t it? We have several ‘belt factories’ in the area; All pass out the belts like candy, and all churn out lots of Tai-Bo and ‘Aerobic Kick-Boxing’ types. Nothing wrong with that, if that is what you are in for, but…

If you are happy at your dojo, and you feel they have a good program, don’t just go for a belt. It’ll cheapen the meaning of having it. The whole point is to show that you have the skill and discipline to do it right, not just to have it.

Then again, The Karate Kid did get the chicks…

I hope a real Tae Kwon Do or Shotokan person can chime in here. My understanding of these styles is that 1-2 years of hard work can earn a black belt. The procedure of these styles is to drill, drill, drill the basics. When one masters the “basics” then that is the first degree black belt. Then the real martial arts training and advanced techniques begin.

I know from Kenpo the process is one gets thrown everything, and there are a lot more techniques to master before being considered a black belt.

Neither way is inherently better or worse, but you can see how one is faster.

Then of course there are the factory schools where you pay your money and you graduate with a black belt (kinda like getting an MBA)

What Brutus said.
Don’t worry about the color of the belt. I learned this years ago when my school would spar against other schools in the area. A yellow belt in my school could have a black belt from another school cowering in the corner in about 2-4 minutes. It was pretty pathetic.

Been in Tae Kwon Do for 10 years here and am a first degree Black Belt. My head instructor is a 5th degree black belt and he’s in year 30. I will go for my 2nd degree when I feel like it. It’s been about 3 years since I got my first degree.
You are falling into the american ideal that everything should be mass produced and in everyones garage. EARN your Blackbelt and it will so much more precious when you do get it. I know it sounds corney but its true.
Yes I’ve seen schools like this advertised in the twin cities. Open the phone book and you will find a few. They are the smaller non-affliated schools generally. I once met a 17 year old man who was a 9th degree Black Belt in TKD. Considering that most 9th degree Grand Masters spend entire lives in the art, I would say he was a puppymill Blackbelt.
Why would you want to get a blackbelt from these crappy schools anyways? Its the equivalent of those Degrees you can buy on the internet. It’s not like you can wear it your present school anyways. “Hi guys, I’m a blackbelt today”.
I assume you think you will be cooler if you do get it faster. For what purpose? So you can tell that 6’5" 300lbs Meathead while he proceeds to tear you a new one? FYI, I never tell anyone I meet that I’m a Blackbelt or that I even know TKD. There’s usually a nut job that will pick a fight with you for that specific reason. And since you never put in the training to earn it, he/she will destroy you. Or you get those real avid hardcore Blackbelts that train 8 hours a day that will want to fight you just to see how good you really are. These are extreme cases, but have all happened to me.
I’ve seen many people like you come into my Dojang. One of the first questions they ask is, How long til I become a Blackbelt?. You watch the dropout ratio once people earn the Blackbelts and its probably upper 70 percent. They get it, and then stop going. All a status symbol to them. Take your time and enjoy the ride.

I think the whole idea of the belt system should be done away with and the true spirit of martial arts should be reinstated. Sensei ~ Karate ka should be the only distinction. Of course the American psyche needs a tangible… a symbolic goal and thereby misses the whole point entirely.
The only black belt should be a white belt dirty from sweat and wear.

I’ve had multiple years training in both TKD and Shotokan. Never belt tested, because I never saw the point- I wasn’t in it for the belt, I was in it for the discipline.

To answer China Guy’s question… 1-2 years of work can get you the belt in either discipline, at a sleezy storefront dojo. NOTE THAT I AM BEING VERY, VERY SPECIFIC HERE… there are some extremely dedicated teachers, and some… not. For this particular geographic area, the two major types of styles offered are Shotokan and TKD, and that the majority of schools in here are not at all averse to handing out belts like they’re candy (this was one of the things that got me out of TKD- the dojo was taken over by a guy who was in it for the money, and there’s certainly plenty of money to be had in giving out belts)… what Burrido refers to as a puppymill. The major problem with these schools is the quality of the teaching… they’re interested only in getting your money, and aren’t interested in whether you’re doing the techniques properly, or whether you’re being safe while learning/sparring.

I wouldn’t stake my health and well-being on one of those belts, nor, should I have been actually pursuing a “real” black belt, my martial arts reputation.

I took Tae Kwon Do classes for a bit less than a year, made purple belt, dropped out because the classes and belt rank testing got to be hideiously expensive.

In a real danger situation, even if I had stuck with it long enough to make black belt, I probably could not have fought my way out of a wet paper bag. The school I went to was affiliated with an organization that basically taught TKD as a sport, and the mental discipline to go with the physical skills simply was not there. I have always had a kind of disconnect between my mind and body, it seems like even breathing has to be processed through my cerebral cortex, and the instruction did nothing to help me really get to a point where I could just react to a situation without having to think about it. I got my ass kicked in sparring classes by lower belt ranks on a regular basis.

Basically, about every two months, there would be belt-rank testing, and if you looked good on the testing floor, they would tie a belt on you. The fees got higher with each belt rank, even though there wasn’t really anything more involved in the testing for a purple belt as opposed to a yellow belt. A few more moves in the form, and that was about it.

My instructor was really, really proud of the fact that he had trained the youngest black belt in the country- kid was five years old when he made black belt, he’d been involved in TKD since he was three.

I think that the class fees and testing fees were probably a real cash cow for the organization.

I don’t even have the belts or the boards I broke anymore, or my second-place trophy from the only tournament I competed in. I realized that all they meant was that I could break boards and look good on the floor. In other words, nothing.

An old shotokan student chiming in. I eventually got my blackbelt after about 6 years, and took 1-2 years of solid training sitting on brown belt (ok, there was three ranks of brown belt, but still) before the instructor allowed me to attend training. Like China Guy said, we constantly had the basic movements drilled into us, and then slowly working in combinations, set-form sparring and kata. Heck, in our style we weren’t supposed to do freestyle sparring until blackbelt.

A few martial arts places around university say that it takes about 2-4 years. In a business sense, it would be better for them to quickly shuffle you up the ranks so they can charge you more. It’s like getting a PhD from Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

For some reason, I keep thinking back to Count Dante, showing up at schools and challenging the senseis to duels. Of course, according to the legends, he always won. Now, I’m not particularly spectacular (solid ability consistent with my belt level) but I wonder if such a school would even take me - even if I lied, it would be obvious that I have a significant amount of training.

That said, I was just toying with the idea.

Amen, brother.

I used to do Aikido. There is a very solid, very basic throw called “irimi-nage” (“entering throw”). People at my dojo called it “the thirty-year throw” only semi-sarcastically; the idea being that despite its simplicity, it took a * long * time to get it right.

Sure, you can get a black belt in 2 years. To master the art and yourself probably takes a lifetime.

A black belt in two years? Hell you can get a black belt in two hours if that’s all you want. Just dye your white belt black.

I don’t get belts. Either you know the skill or you don’t. Back when I was studying Karate, my teacher (trained in Okinawa) said that many of the Dojo’s there don’t even use belts.

I know, I know, recognition is great. But if it’s not real, what’s the point?

Up until recently, my son and I took TKD at our YMCA. Our program there was affiliated with a local studio which was essentially a belt mill.

I was taking TKD strictly as a lifelong fitness thing. I do a lot of cardio-kickboxing, and I thought it would be fun to increase my skill levels through the class, as well as be a neat thing to do together with my son.

In our program, you started at no-belt. Assuming you had instructor’s approval, you could belt test at the studio with their students every two months for the lower belt levels. Belt tests cost $60 a pop. So, we went from no belt, to white belt, to yellow belt, to green belt, to orange belt, to low blue, to high blue, to brown to purple in 16 months. You had a minimum 4 month wait to get to red belt, and another 4 month wait to get to deputy black. After deputy black, there was a minimum 6 month wait to be eligible to test for first degree black belt. The cost for testing also went up when there was a longer time between tests. I think it was $120 for red belt; it might have been over $200 for my deputy black. (You were also supposed to buy a new dobok, at a minimum cost of $75 to show off your sporty new deputy black belt, too.) I think the black belt test was around $350.

This studio had some very, very young children. The first black belt test I witnessed was a middle-aged woman (roughly my age) who was absolutely not ready to test. She screwed up on her forms and ho-sun-suls, and was just not ready to test. After seeing her being given the belt, I knew that earning a black belt from this studio was just a joke.

My son and I ended up dropping out shortly after getting our deputy black belts last fall, when the Y went from offering the class on a pay-by-the-class basis to a fixed fee per month, whether you could make it to class or not. Since this was all just a life-time fitness sort of thing for me, I didn’t want the stress of feeling that I HAD to go to class, or else I was going to be ripped off. (My chronic achilles tendinitis condition hit crisis mode at about that time, too, and the orthopod told me to never, ever, exercise barefoot again, anyway.)

My take on it: Don’t buy yourself a cheap belt. It’s not worth it. Stick around and earn one that makes you proud of your achievement.

Just a question here: a year of martial arts study equals how many hours? I ask because that would seem relevant to the original question. For example, many storefront martial arts schools and YMCAs seem to sign people up for class sessions that meet twice a week for an hour and half or so at a time, and some of that is warm up exercise. A year of “study” might really be 100 hours or so of actual instruction. By contrast, there is an aikido school near me that offers morning, afternoon and evening classes on weekdays and morning and afternoon classes on weekends for a flat monthly fee. It would theoretically be possible for someone to train maybe 50 hours a week. Maybe a year of that would qualify someone to earn an honest black belt. I’ve also heard of another school where in order to earn a black belt the sensei requires not just technical competence, but community service projects and term papers on the history of martial arts. At the other extreme, I’ve met people who tell me that they’ve “studied martial arts for 20 years,” but what they really mean is they took a karate class in college and since then they sign up for TKD at the local Y once in a while when they don’t have anything else to do. To get a college degree you need to earn credit hours–just showing up for four years isn’t enough. A license to cut hair requires a minimum number of training hours. So how many hours–whether it’s in one year or ten–does it take to earn an honest black belt?

I don’t know how to answer this other than: a lot. Generally years are the measurement. In my school it’s expected that you take a minimum of 2 1 hr. classes per week for the first few belts (maybe 1/3rd of the way to BB). After that, at least three as well as training on other arts (also offered by the school), teaching, attending seminars, etc. By the time one gets to be a brown belt, it’s assumed that you’re taking at least 4 1 hr classes per week and the additional stuff besides. For those who are going for their black belt (generally with 18 months or so to go), they’re there 5-6 days a week for three-four hours at a time. It’s also expected that you participate in an organized fight of some sort and training for that is generally 6 days a week for a couple of months leading up to the event.

Currently I, (about halfway to brown belt time-wise) am only taking two classes per week due to injuries (and that’s pushing it). I wish I could take three classes in the main art and two supplementary classes.

I got my black belt for taekwondo in Korea and it took me a little over a year. WTF certified and all that. But then again, I attended class every week day instead of the usual couple times a week deal they have in the States.
Also the training was considerably harsher than what you see in the States. Not just in terms of the training regiment but the general attitude. Korea is a very Confucian society and you can definitely see it in the teacher-student relationship. The Masters don’t politely ask you to maybe try it this way, they explicitly TELL YOU you’re doing it wrong and will not tolerate anything done half-assed. In the States most people will say “I’m not gonna take this shit” and leave, but due to certain values embedded into most koreans they (we?) will accept it.
Even without the excessive bowing and formalities that many US dojangs have adopted, you knew the master is respected.
Even though I’ve seen people with black belts that have worked years for it, due to lax regiment and attitude they were hardly qualified to be, in my opinion.

(Sorry for the minor hijack)

The Shotokan dojos I trained at here in the Twin Cities are headed by Robert Fusaro, who’s one of the highest-ranking non-asian black belts in the art. The average time for somebody to make black belt would be 5-7 years if he worked fairly diligently. High school/early college students, who are healthy, strong & limber enough to not get hurt often or to heal up quickly when they did get hurt, would be able to make black belt in about 3 years. As has been stated above, most people in the dojo feel that it’s not about the belts, it’s about the training, and getting your black belt just means you know where to put your feet and which way to turn in the kata. After the black belt is earned is when you really start to learn.

Another way of looking at it is this: there are three steps to learning. Memorization, imitation, and adaptation.

Memorization means “I put my right foot forward and punch with my left hand. I step forward with my left foot and punch with my right hand. Repeat.” Lower belt.

Imitation means I watch that guy over there who seems to do the above really well and I try to do what he’s doing. Upper belt.

Adaptation means I make all the stuff I’ve learned work for me, because of the way I feel when I’m doing it. Black belt.

So, 5-7 years if you work at it. 3 years if you’re insane. Or, I could stop off at the corner martial arts store and pick one up for you. They’re about ten bucks.

Whist it IS possible to get your black belt in a year (read Angry White pyjamas by Robert Twigger) That’s by training all day, everyday. Different martial arts put black belt at a different level. New martial art styles also like to accelerate people through the rakes so that they can get more instructors. There are also ‘McDojo’s’, pure money making schemes.

Try looking at or

If your dojo doesn’t teach the five point palm exploding heart technique then it aint shit.

Why not just think of it as different scales? Some schools/styles like to give out black belts early, some don’t. In that way they are not really the same black belt.

Anyway, it’s the skill that counts, not whatever belt happens to represent the skill level you are at in your particular school/style.