The black belt is the highest belt in many martial arts. It signifies a person who has mastered the art. But it doesn’t take equally long to get a black belt in every martial art. So in this post I explain how long it takes to get a black belt for different martial arts.
The road to black belt
When you are first starting martial arts, you will wear a white belt.
You can move up to a different color belt depending on how well you have learned and practiced the art.
After having achieved multiple different colored belts, you get your black belt, which is the final belt in many martial arts.
Black belt requirements
Different martial arts have different requirements to move up to a higher belt color. Some martial arts require a certain number of years of practice to move up to a higher belt color. Other martial arts require you to perform a certain number of moves or to compete in a grappling tournament.
The differences in requirements are the main difference maker in terms of how long it takes to get a black belt in a certain martial art.
1. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt: 10+ years
Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is the black belt that takes the longest to get out of any martial art.
There are multiple reasons for why it takes so long to get a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
But the most important reason is that Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires you to perform techniques during live sparring or competition.
It’s not enough to show that you can do it technique on a non resisting opponent.
BJJ requires that you can do it technique in a realistic fighting situation against full resistance.
This is a much harder requirement than you see in most other martial arts which is why ybj has the black belt it takes the longest to get.
2. Judo black belt: 4 to 6 years
It takes about 4 to 6 years to get a black belt in judo.
To get a judo black belt you need to show proficiency in a specified set of techniques (kata) during the promotion ceremony.
It’s relatively easy to get a black belt in judo, but not all black belts are created equal. Within judo, there’s a great amount of respect for black belts that do competitions at a high level.
3. Aikido black belt: 5 years
It takes about 5 years to get a black belt in Aikido if you train 2 to 3 times per week.
Aikido’s belt requirements do not include live sparring.
But, Aikido emphasizes philosophy and spirituality more than any other martial art. To get a black belt, you need to embody the Aikido philosophy.
4. Japanese Jiu Jitsu Black belt: 4 to 5 years
It takes 4 to 5 years to get a black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu.
To get it, you need to pass several belt tests in which you show proficiency in a specified set of techniques.
The belt test is an actual test and not just a ceremony, so you can fail it and then you have to try again.
At most you can try to do a belt test every 6 months at most dojos.
5. Karate black belt: 4 to 5 years
There’s many different schools of Karate, but on average it takes about 4 to 5 years to get a black belt in Karate.
The reason that you can do this relatively quickly is that sparring is not a requirement to advance belts in Karate. You need to show techniques against cooperating opponents and in the air.
For many Karate schools the black belt also isn’t the end of your journey. After this, you’re expected to get up to 8 black belt degrees, which can take multiple years again.
6. Krav Maga black belt: 3 to 4 years
Krav Maga also adopted the belt system and it takes a minimum of 3 to 4 years to get a Krav Maga black belt.
After black belt there are several black belt degrees that you can get in Krav Maga.
Although Krav Maga focuses on self defense techniques, most of their belt promotion requirements center around kata rather than actual sparring. This is because many of their techniques are not safe to perform on training partners.
7. Taekwondo black belt: 3 to 5 years
It takes 3 to 5 years to get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. This makes it the easiest black belt you can get out of any martial art in terms of time.
Tae Kwon Do also has more rank levels than any other martial art, especially at the junior level. This enables them to promote kids in rank frequently to keep them motivated.
Final thought on which black belt takes the longest to get
There’s good reasons why the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt takes the longest to get by far.
The other martial arts are all fairly similar in how long it takes to get a black belt in them.
It’s noteworthy that BJJ is the youngest martial art on this list, and the only one without standardized promotion requirements.
Perhaps, as the sport matures, it becomes standardized and it takes less long to get a black belt.