How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt? (Karate, Taekwondo, BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Muay Thai, Kung Fu & Others)

image of a martial art black belt

A martial art black belt represents the summit (or near summit) of achievement for many students, or prospective students. But how long does it take to earn a black belt?

On average, it can take between 3-10 years to earn a martial art black belt depending on the martial art style you chose to practice. For example, it can take just 3 years to earn a taekwondo black belt while it can take as long as 10 years to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Note that a student’s progression through the belt rankings very much depends on their capabilities and commitment to training.

So, in this article, we will be considering the different martial art styles and how long it takes to earn a black belt in them.

Let’s begin!

How Fast Can You Become a Black Belt?

Earning a black belt in martial arts requires a significant amount of time, dedication, and effort.

The exact timeframe for earning a black belt can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the style of martial arts, the frequency of training, the level of skill and natural talent of the individual, and the specific requirements of the martial arts school or organization.

Ok…so how fast can you become a black belt?

In general, it takes several years of consistent training and practice to earn a black belt in most martial arts styles. This may range from around 3-5 years for some styles like Taekwondo or Karate, up to 8-10 years or more for other styles like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

It’s important to note that the journey to earning a black belt is about much more than just the time it takes to complete the requirements.

It’s also about the personal growth, discipline, and commitment that come with the process of training and developing your skills over time.

Rushing to earn a black belt without putting in the necessary effort and dedication is not only disrespectful to the art, but it can also put you and others at risk if you haven’t developed the necessary skills and experience.

Now that we have established the fact that the length of time to earn a martial art black belt depends on the style you choose, let’s now look at some of the martial arts styles individually.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to examine all the martial art styles out there, but we will be considering some of the world’s most recognized martial arts.

Let’s go!

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Karate?

On average, it takes 4-6 years to earn a black belt in karate.

Earning a black belt in karate depends on several variable factors.

The student’s commitment is evaluated as well as the standards of the issuing martial arts school.

It takes five years of dedicated training to acquire the wisdom and spiritual growth necessary to advance to a black belt.

Note however that a black belt is not the highest belt in karate. The highest karate belt is red, reserved for the finest and biggest grand masters of the art.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Taekwondo?

On average, a student can earn a Taekwondo black belt within three to five years. However, some schools stipulate a minimum of four to five years of training before a student can get a black belt, while others do not.

A student can earn a Taekwondo black belt faster than in any other martial arts form.

Just like karate, Black belts in Taekwondo are achieved in degrees, with the practitioner able to earn the first-degree black belt within three to five years.

To earn the black belt, the student must first pass a test that is based on the school’s curriculum.

It is not uncommon for students to fail the test multiple times; taekwondo however remains one of the easiest martial art to get a black belt in.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in BJJ?

It takes a minimum of 10 years to get a black belt in BJJ. It is arguably the hardest martial art to get a black belt in.

A black belt is extremely hard to achieve in this discipline as a martial artist who trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu undergoes rigorous study.

It is difficult to progress through the ranks; earning just a blue belt takes three to five years.

You can expect to get your black belt after a minimum of 10 years of training, but it will almost certainly take longer than that.

However, some exceptionally talented grapplers got their black belts in far fewer than 10 years.

For example, BJ Penn famously earned his black belt in just three years.

But he’s rare enough for this accomplishment to earn him the moniker of “The Prodigy.”

Do not try to replicate this.

10 years is often said as a guideline, but in truth, this too is on the short side.

It’s possible to get your black belt in a decade — but you’ll need to train consistently, sustain few injuries and focus a large amount of your energy and lifestyle on Jiu-Jitsu.

For most practitioners who enjoy Jiu-Jitsu as a hobby, and who train between two and four times a week, 12-15 years is a much healthier timeframe in which to hope for a black belt.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu

The timeframe is similar to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ….10 years.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Judo?

On average, it can take between 4-6 years to earn a black belt in judo. However, getting a black belt in judo is not entirely based on a timeline, but rather on how quickly you learn and your commitment to the art.

Some people have gotten judo black belts within this timeframe while it has taken others longer years.

This discipline features ten black belts “dans.”

Simply earning the first “dan” hardly qualifies the practitioner as a judo expert. Even the first “dan” can take four to six years to earn.

The thing you must understand is that reaching a black belt in judo is just the beginning. The first black belt “Shodan” translates to the beginning step.

So even by reaching the black belt in judo, you are only just in the first steps of your journey.

This judo belt ranking system is similar to karate since karate adopts the judo belt system.

This also means that similar to karate, the black belt is not the highest in judo. The red belt is.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Muay Thai?

Traditionally, Muay Thai doesn’t have any belt ranking system, meaning you cannot get a black belt in Muay Thai.

As practiced in Thailand, a black belt is not awarded to anyone.

This makes Muay Thai quite different from other well-known martial art styles like Karate, Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which have a belt grading system.

In recent years, however, a colorful armband grading system was introduced by the World Thai Boxing Association (WTBA), but this grading system is not the same as the belt ranking system.

In addition, the colorful armband grading system is not recognized by the majority of Muay Thai training schools in Thailand.

But why can’t you get a black belt in Muay Thai?

It is worthwhile to understand that the goal of a typical Muay Thai fighter is to earn a living. Therefore, getting a belt is the least of his worries.

The fighters start earlier and try to make enough money before retiring in their early or mid-thirties.

Also, fighters in the discipline prepare for competition in the hopes of winning championship belts.

They weren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder or honing their craft on the side. The group’s objective was to perfect their training and rise to the top.

In Thailand, the sport is basically about combat, and there is hardly any room for an award of belts to any fighter.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Kung Fu?

Generally, it takes between eight and ten years or more of dedicated training to reach a black belt level in Kung Fu. However, Chinese martial arts do not have a belt system but a ranking method based on the sash. It, therefore, takes between 8-10 years to earn a black sash, which is a black belt equivalent.

Traditionally, kung fu (Chinese martial arts) does not have a belt system.

I have seen some Kung Fu schools with a belt system, but they tend to be “McDojos” – in other words, not legitimate.

While they have no belt system, they however have a ranking system that shows seniority.

In this ranking system within Kung Fu, they don’t refer to their rankings as “belt”. Instead, Kung Fu practitioners use sashes to signify their rank.

There are 10 different sash colors signifying ranks.

  • White Sash
  • Yellow Sash
  • Orange Sash
  • Gold Sash
  • Green Sash
  • Blue Sash
  • Purple Sash
  • Brown Sash
  • Red Sash
  • Black Sash

To become a teacher in Kung Fu, you must hold the rank of black sash or higher.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in MMA?

MMA doesn’t have a belt or ranking system, so you can’t get a black belt in MMA. However, some martial arts clubs do have their own belt system for MMA, but it is not a recognized standard in any martial arts organization.

MMA does have championship belts for fighters in competitions, which are in different weight classes. For example, a heavyweight or lightweight championship belt.

These championship belts are different from a grading belt you will expect to see in a martial arts class, as these championship belts are like a trophy that you need to fight to win or defend it.

Note that MMA (Mixed martial arts) is a combat sport that is derived from the skills and techniques used in many other martial arts, and most of the martial arts used in MMA generally have a belt grading system.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Kickboxing?

Kickboxing does not have a black belt because traditional kickboxing does not have a belt ranking system.

Training participants will advance through the many techniques and maneuvers at their own pace, depending on their individual abilities and the speed with which they learn each new concept.

It may be easier or more time-consuming for some pupils to advance than others.

This can be disappointing for pupils who value having a belt system in place.

Although some schools teach kickboxing using the Muay Thai armband system, others include karate in their curriculum and use the belt system.

These are, however, exceptions to the rule.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Aikido?

On average, a black belt can be earned in 4 to 5 years by training in Aikido 2-3 times per week. But that does vary from dojo to dojo and also depends on how a teacher perceives a student’s motivation and dedication in addition to years of practice.

So there is a time component, a ranking system in place, and how much effort you are willing to put in.

It’s not simply about the number of years you put in. After all, we all know people who “eat and drink” whatever they’re exploring and those who don’t give it much.

The latter are often not as “obsessed.” It’s common sense that the person who’s truly devoted to a pursuit is likely to master it quicker than others.

So, the time differs depending on the dojo and the student.

It may take some people up to 7 or 8. This is because they may not be as gung-ho about Aikido as others are. And, even with the same level of devotion, motivation often differs.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Black Belt in Hapkido?

On average, it takes a minimum of 3-4 years to get a black belt in Hapkido. This is based on a student who attends class at least three days every week, with each class being at least one and one-half hours in length.

Here is a chart from the International Hapkido Federation showing the color of the belt, rank, and minimum time Requirements for advancing from one rank to the next in Hapkido.

Other factors are also considered when determining if a student must train longer to advance in rank.

Is It Hard to Get a Black Belt?

Getting a black belt is extremely difficult to get and requires years of hard work, training, and commitment to the art.

My certifying instructor would say, and I agree, that “it’s because you don’t get or earn a black belt…you become one.”

Becoming a black belt should is very difficult because the experience is transformative.

There’s more to it than just punching and kicking and memorizing some forms or whatever else your respective style requires.

Most schools have some kind of moral/ethical code that goes along with it that one needs to embody to be a proper representative of their style.

The certifying instructor should also make the test hard enough when you think about quitting.

The deciding point is when you hit that point and then you push through and don’t quit.

The certifying instructor will then know if you deserve it or not.

What Is the Hardest Black Belt to Get?

The hardest belt to get a black belt in is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which takes a minimum of 10 years.

Note that 10 years is just a minimum benchmark, and it typically takes practitioners longer years (12-15 years) to earn a black belt.

Can You Get a Black Belt in 2 Years?

Yes, you can get a black belt in 2 years if you are extremely committed and devoted and you practice a martial art style with lesser years requirement.

An adult student who trains in Karate and who attends class at minimum two times per week regularly can expect to earn a black belt in about five years.

Some very dedicated karate students who train more intensely have been known to earn a black belt in as little as two or three years.

Joe Lewis was stationed in Okinawa and earned his black belt in Karate in 7 months.

So, if you really go after it, a lot can happen in a very short time

Is There Any Belt Higher Than a Black Belt?

Generally, the black belt is the highest in martial art. However, in some martial art styles such as karate and judo, red is regarded as the highest belt of honor.


Earning a black belt is preceded by progressing through the ranks of several belts, many (but not all) of which have been mentioned.

Every martial art requires a different length of time to achieve the coveted black belt.

Some disciplines require ten years of training, while others require only three. 

Of course, this varies based on time commitment and skill requirements.

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