How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt In Karate? (And how hard is it?)

Learning a martial art isn’t simply just getting in shape and being able to throw a kick and/or punch.

Learning just the basics of one of the countless martial arts schools out there can be a years-long process that requires a lot of dedication, thoughtfulness, and a keen mind as well.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt In Karate?

It is no use just passively going to a lesson once every week, and expecting a shiny new belt after a year or two. These schools simply don’t work like that.

This has often led to many discussions as to which martial art is the quickest to progress through, especially newcomers to this world of training that are hoping to progress quickly.

Whilst this isn’t exactly a mindset that is or should be encouraged (martial arts is as much about what you learn on the journey to a higher rank, rather than just the rank itself), it is certainly something that many people consider when they are first choosing a discipline, especially if they can only go to a dojo or practice session once or twice a week.

Take Karate, for example. This Okinawan martial art is one of the most popular practiced styles in the world.

And naturally has a lot of people who are interested in becoming masters in it. So, how long does it take for someone to have the skills necessary to earn a black belt?

Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss today!

In this article, we are going to cover what exactly a black belt means when it comes to Karate, as well as how long it takes most people who do reach the stage of obtaining a black belt to get to that point.

We’re also going to cover a few factors that can often affect how long it can take you to reach this point.

Is A Black Belt The Highest Rank In Karate?

So, before we get into any discussion as to how long it can take people to reach the point where they receive a black belt, it may also be helpful to explain what a black belt represents in Karate, as well as how ranks generally work in Karate and other East Asian martial arts.

Karate, like many other martial arts that originated from Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, as well as several other martial arts from the surrounding areas, uses a system of ranking in martial arts known as ‘dan’.

A person’s dan refers to their general ability.

Whilst the specific number of ranking and system will vary between martial arts, Karate generally has 10 levels of dan, with beginners starting at 1st dan, or ‘Shodan’, and will work their way up to the level of 10th dan, or Jūdan.

A person who is training to qualify for the next level of dan will have to demonstrate that they understand all the skills and techniques of that next rank, including the other levels and ranks that they have already passed.

In karate, Jūdan is the rank at which you are likely to be given a black belt, after showing that you have the knowledge and experience to operate at this level.

There are 10 more levels of dan beyond Jūdan, which can take a lifetime to work through and become a true master in this particular martial art.

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Black Belt Karate Practitioner?

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Black Belt Karate Practitioner?

So, with this knowledge of what exactly getting a black bet entails, how long does it usually take for someone to reach this rank for themselves?

Well, as we mentioned in the previous section, a person has to demonstrate that they understand all the techniques of their current and previous dans, before training to use the techniques of the next one.

This means that the amount of time it takes for an individual to reach the next rank can vary wildly, depending on the skill level of the person who is currently training.

Generally speaking, however, the average time it takes a person to reach Jūdan and obtain a black belt is between 5 and 10 years of consistent practice and learning.

This isn’t by any means the path that everyone takes, however.

Some people have managed to climb the ranks and get their black belt in as little as 3 and a half years, or as long as 20 years!

Factors That Can Affect How Quickly You Progress In Karate

So, why is it that the amount of time it takes to reach Jūdan and get your black belt can vary so much?

Well, this comes down to how much time and energy you have to be able to apply yourself to learning this martial art.


This is the biggest factor that will affect how quickly you rise through the levels of dan.

Most people, especially working adults, can usually only make enough time to practice and train at a session or dojo 1 to 3 times a week.

If you can go more often than this, without wrecking your body, of course, you may find yourself working through the ranks much quicker.

However, how much time you can spend will depend on the other factors below.

Knowledge & Consistency

Consistency is also key when it comes to learning how to perform techniques in Karate.

Being able to create a routine where you can learn all the drills, as well as practice sparring, are vital qualities that will help you reach the next dan.

Financial Situation

Most people have other priorities that they need to focus on besides Karate, such as school or work.

This often affects how much time and the extra money you have to learn this martial art.


In short, the black belt is a rank that will take you years to achieve. But with enough practice and time, you will surely get there.

Christopher Anderson
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