How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt in Karate?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt in Karate?

Who doesn’t want to be a black belt? It’s cool, bad-ass, and people look up to you. We all know that it requires patience but exactly how long does it take to get a black belt in karate? And how can we speed up the process? Let’s find it out.

What Is An Average Time?

It will take a healthy person who trains twice a week, 5 years to become a black belt in karate. Many factors will impact how long someone’s journey will take. Factors like…

  • Strength
  • Dedication
  • And your training goals.

Strength is Important

Strength isn’t everything, but it’s important. Being too strong has never negatively impacted someone’s journey to becoming a black belt. Being stronger allows you to train harder, longer, and more frequently. 

Also, the mental game in karate competitions is important. When your opponent sees that you’re muscular, athletic, and lean, he will respect you more.

How Bad Do You Want It?

The reason why most professional athletes succeed is that they want it badly. Their livelihood depends on it. If a professional athlete were to stop training, they’d stop putting food on the table and lose the roof over their heads.

You must develop similar dedication. Tell your training partners that your goal is to become a karate black belt and not to let you quit. This creates accountability.

Your dedication will affect every part of your life. Everything from sleeping, eating, and training. If you want it bad enough and put in the work required, you’ll get promoted faster.

Your Training Goals

You must have a journey and mini-goals you want to achieve mapped in your head. This will give you something to work towards, keep you motivated when you don’t feel like training, and it’ll reassure you that you’re on the right path once you’ve reached that goal.

Without a journey and mini-goals, you become a plastic bag blowing in the wind. No direction, no intent, and nothing to look forward to.

Write down what you want to accomplish within karate in the next 5 years. Break that down into separate years and ask yourself, “What do I need to do every year to achieve my ultimate goal.” That could be a number of classes you must attend or the number of kata you must learn.

Break those goals down even more. What do you need to learn 3 new katas this year? Study and practise kata for 15 minutes every day, five days a week.

The goal is to break your 5 year goal into small, easy tasks that don’t scare you. This will keep you motivated and you’ll have a crystal clear plan to follow.

How Are Karate Belts Earned?

Every few months, your instructor will grade you to see how much you’ve learned and improved since your last grade. Think of it as a test. 

Factors that influence your grading are…

  • Technique
  • Progress made
  • Consistent training

Your Technique

You will be asked to perform different katas. If your technique used in the kata is that of the next belt level, then you’ll be more likely to get promoted.

Most schools also require students to know a specific number of katas for every belt level.

How Much Progress Have You Made

The real grading begins several months before your official grading takes place. Instructors will look to see if you’re making progress and how fast you can learn new techniques. This will all affect your grading.

Also, instructors will notice if you arrive on time, how often you miss class and other factors that’ll impact your promotion.

Are You Consistent?

If you missed class for a few weeks or months, you can bet that you aren’t getting that promotion.

Be consistent.

Regularly pitching up to class is only half the battle won tho. Are you on time? How often do you give it your all? Are you always motivated and full of energy?

This goes deeper than consistency, it’s about your attitude towards karate. You aren’t always going to be motivated, but if your attitude is right then you’ll motivate yourself to train your heart out.

What Skills Do I Need To Become a Black Belt in Karate?

On my journey towards becoming a black belt, I learned that the most important skills are…

  • The ability to learn new techniques quickly
  • Mental toughness
  • And studying and practising outside the gym.

You Must Learn Quickly

During every session, your instructors will show you several new techniques that’ll help you get promoted. Most students don’t memorize these techniques and they end up forgetting them by the end of the session.

Have a notebook where you write down all the techniques, tips, and tricks you’re taught in class. When you get home, study, and practice these techniques until it’s a permanent part of your memory.

You Must Overcome Adversity

You will face lots of rejection. You’ll lose in competitions but you must become desensitized to this type of pain if you want to become a black belt.

If you’re sparring and you fall, get knocked down, or hurt, continue fighting. This will build your mental toughness and you’ll gain the respect of your opponent. This is also seen as honorable by your instructors.

You Must Train Karate Outside the Dojo

You’ll never become a black belt if you’re only training during class. Classes are 1-2 hours long and take place 2-3 times a week. This isn’t enough to reach mastery because there’s too much to learn.

Training at home or with a friend will give you that extra practise to win in competition and get that black belt belt a little faster.

How to Get Promoted Quickly?

Becoming a black belt takes time and patience but there are ways to get promoted quicker. The first method is to write down everything you’ve learned.

Record Everything

When your class is over, get a pen and notepad out and write down everything you’ve learned. Always do this directly after class since it’ll be fresh in your memory. If you were to do this the next day, you’ll forget some techniques.

Once you’ve recorded everything, read through it, and practice it in your free time. This way you’re always moving forward, learning new things, and getting better at other techniques.

Build Mental Toughness Outside The Dojo

Mental toughness is an awesome skill that’ll benefit your life outside karate. 

My favorite way of building mental toughness is through doing cold showers. Cold showers will build a mind of steel because you’re voluntarily doing something extremely uncomfortable. 

If you build the habit of doing cold showers regularly, you’ll get comfortable with being uncomfortable and that transfers over to karate.

Another way I like to build mental toughness is to spar with different opponents. Most people get comfortable sparring with a handful of sparring partners. This creates a comfort zone and the longer you stay in your comfort zone, the harder it is to leave.

Study and Practise outside the Dojo

Promise yourself to study karate for 15 minutes every day. Karate isn’t something you practise inside a dojo, it’s a way of life. 

Lock yourself in a room with no distractions like TV, phones, or video games. The only thing you should have with you is your karate book. By doing this, you’re improving every day, learning new skills, and correcting old ones. You’ll never hit a plateau.

If you’ve made some friends during karate class, invite them over and spar. This will give you a chance to put your karate skills into practise.


Karate is a martial art that takes time and patience to master. But with these tips, you’ll be one step closer to getting that black belt. Now I’d like to hear from you, what do you do to get promoted quicker?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Span Chen
Span Chen
I have been practicing karate for more than 6 years, and now at the sixth level (green belt) of the Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Kugekai. Though I haven’t earned my Black Belt yet, I am deeply passionate about my training.