Conversation had come up the other day can it be possible to get a Black Belt in Karate in just 6 months – you've got to be kidding, however, the answer is 'yes' if you train full time and really hard for a minimum of 6 hours per day. If you scale that down to part time training (say 3 times a week) you could probably expect Black, 3 to 4 years. If only twice a week, you could be looking at 4 to 5 years. Some systems award Black Belts just on 2 years because of smaller content in their curriculum. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t want a Black Belt in 6 months because if it came that easy it wouldn't be worth much.
We’ve talked about a Black Belt being within anyone’s reach based on the minimum hours of training and conscientiousness, which always stands. What any Instructor wants their students not to think are, they are handed out; they wouldn’t be worth much if that happens. The grading system is a step by step process like a climbing a ladder one step at a time which is easier than 3 or 4 steps at a time. Most martial arts systems use the coloured belt system in which ranks are readily identifiable within each school. It’s great to advance to the next belt but what counts most is what you do when you get that belt.
At gradings I take into account the attendance records, information by our scoring panel and the actual performance on the day. The students who are consistently dedicated and attentive usually have already passed before walking in the door and are least likely to be looked at.
Twenty years times from now you want to be able to say you have been training 20 years! The truth is many people have not done much in 20 years. It’s not how many years you have done but what have you done in those years. To quote Shihan Richard Norton, “Have you trained one year 30 times or have you trained for 30 years”. Meaning have you only learnt one year’s material and not progressed because of just doing the same old stuff, year after year? Each year should be about increasing your knowledge and skills and continually challenging yourself.
White Belt is the best rank when it comes to learning. So when you’re a Black Belt you must start thinking like a White Belt again.