How Long To Make Progress Learning Karate

Karate is a hugely popular martial art that is practiced in almost 192 countries across the globe, making it a globally favored sport.

Since Karate was made an official Olympic sport people of all ages have considered starting to learn.

How Long To Make Progress Learning Karate

When starting to learn something new many people wonder how long it will take them to progress and the question is often asked concerning Karate.

Here we look at the progression route in Karate and how long it takes, on average, to progress when learning Karate

Karate Progression Route 

Progression through Karate means moving from one belt to another. There are 8 different belts, there can be more or variations of the belts depending on the style of Karate or the federation but for the most part, there are 8.

Each belt represents a different color, the colors are listed below in order, starting with the belt beginners are given:

  • White
  • Orange
  • Red 
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Brown
  • Black

Some federations will also have pink and blue belts but this is not very common in most styles. 

When beginning Karate once you have mastered the basic steps and moves, usually within six months a student will be awarded a white belt to be worn over their Gi, which is a Karate suit. 

Students will then progress from belt to belt by going through a grading exam. Students prepare for grading exams by learning a Kata relevant to the specific belt they are going for.

A kata is a combination of Karate moves, including stances, punches, blocks, and kicks. 

Students are also graded on a basic skills section and usually, there is also a Kumite section to the grading, which is when a controlled sparring session takes place.

Depending on a student’s level a Sensei will pass or fail the student. If a student does particularly well a Sensei can decide to offer them a higher belt, essentially skipping several stages. 

This can often happen for adults who join Karate later in life or students who have a particular passion and drive and focus on bettering their Karate both in class and outside of class. 

How Long It Takes To Progress In Karate 

Unfortunately, there is no set period on how long it takes to progress in Karate.

It takes most people up to one year to completely master the basics and to understand how to focus their mind, and control their body, while also putting power into each move.

There is a lot more to Karate than simply kicking and punching, Karate is a state of mind and a state of being which is why it can often take slightly longer to progress through Karate belts and rankings than with other more physical martial arts, such as Judo and Taekwondo. 

How often gradings take place in a club will have a huge influence on how long it can take to progress in Karate within a specific style and federation.

For example, some clubs might not do individual gradings; they may meet other clubs from their federation and do a large grading which can often be from every 6 months to every year.

How To Progress Quicker

How To Progress Quicker

Some things can be done to ensure that you progress through the belts at a good rate, these are explained below.


Often Karate sessions are attended weekly and so it can be easy to forget what you learn from one week to the next.

Take the time to write down what you learn after each class and spend 15 to 30 minutes practicing each day between sessions. 

This will help you to retain what you have been taught and practice makes perfect.

As your body becomes familiar with certain movements you will be able to drive more power, have better control, and better your balance. 

Be Diligent 

Those who progress quickly are usually the students who are completely dedicated to learning Karate.

They show up on time for their lesson every week, stay engaged and focused during class time and really absorb everything that happens inside the Dojo. 

It is important to be diligent and to be at each scheduled class, unless you are unwell or out of town.

Karate should be seen as an addition to your life and not just a hobby. When you take Karate seriously you will be more disciplined in your class sessions.

Ask For Help

If you are struggling with certain aspects, speak to your Sensei and peers. Often speaking with a peer will enable you to get a different perspective on skills taught by the Sensei.

Arrange a practice session outside of your class sessions to get some extra practice in as well as have the opportunity to improve whatever it is you have been struggling with.

Final Thoughts 

Although there is a clear progression route, how fast people will progress differs depending on the individual.

Speaking with your Sensei or your peers is a great way of understanding why you might not be progressing as quickly as you would like to and also hearing how others progressed through the belts. 

Different clubs will have different patterns of progression and this will depend on how often gradings are held.

For example, if a group grading is held annually then students will take one year to move from one belt to the next, so long as they are ready for the grading. 

Many clubs will do a mock grading to ensure that students are set up for success and those who are not ready will be told to wait until the next grading before attempting to grade for their next belt.

If a Sensei believes that a student is ready to progress they may decide to present the student with a higher belt outside of the grading but this only happens in exceptional cases.

To find out more about how long it takes to progress in a certain club it is best to speak with the Sensei to get up-to-date and accurate information related to that club’s process.

Christopher Anderson
Latest posts by Christopher Anderson (see all)