Becoming a black belt is a high honor in most martial art forms. It takes plenty of discipline and skill in order to achieve this recognition. Many people who are black belts have practiced their martial art for years to get their black belts, but can you become a black belt in less than a year?

No, you cannot become a black belt in less than a year, especially if you are starting at a white belt with no experience. Depending on your style, it can take between three to five years of practice more than once a week to become a black belt with no experience. Each consecutive belt takes longer to get.

Even though it will take years of dedication to become a black belt, it is extremely rewarding once you have made that achievement. Some forms of martial arts also have a special red belt to show true mastery, as well as different degrees of the black belt.

The Time it Takes to Become a Black Belt

Receiving a black belt in any form of martial arts takes many years of dedication, knowledge, skill, and patience. You can’t expect to become a black belt overnight or within a year, even from being a brown belt. Even though you can’t become a black belt in a year, there are some things you can do to reduce the time spent becoming a black belt.

The biggest factor that would decrease the time it takes to become a black belt is how often and long you practice. The more often and longer you practice, the faster it would be for you to become a black belt. Another factor is the type of martial art you are trying to become a black belt in.

Some schools also have a minimum time needed to dedicate to practice in order to be eligible to be tested for the next level belt. Further, the timing of the testing can either prolong or shorten your black belt timing slightly. Some schools may also allow you to test for multiple belts at the same time.

Martial ArtAverage Total Time to Become a Blackbelt
Karate5 years
Taekwondo3-5 years
Judo3-6 years
Jiu-Jitsu10 years

Trials and Skills Expected to be Known for a Black Belt

Becoming a black belt isn’t just about being the best fighter or having the most knowledge in your martial art. When you are tested, you aren’t tested on your fighting skills. There are many skills and trials you’re expected to go through before being honored with a black belt. Different schools may have different restrictions and additional tests for each belt as well.

When you are tested for your black belt, you will be expected to go through trials of:

Here is a complete list of rules and guidelines from the North American Sport Karate Association for how they conduct their black belt exams.

Is There Anything Higher than a Black Belt?

After all those years of training and becoming a black belt, it could b discouraging for some if that was all there was. For some martial arts, there can be different stripes to notate the degree of the black belt. These are called dan. According to the Japanese Karate Association, there are ten dans, which take many years to achieve after you’ve earned your black belt.

Can You be Denied a Black Belt?

After many years of dedicated training and perseverance, going through and obtaining each level belt, you are finally up to test for your black belt. It’s pretty nerve-wracking for many people, but is it possible to be denied a black belt?

As with any other belt level in martial arts, you can be denied a black belt if during an exam you are shown to not be proficient in the required techniques to reach a black belt. Some reasons you can be denied a black belt are:

  • Failure to comply with attendance and attire at the exam.
  • Unwillingness to complete the tasks.
  • Fatigue preventing you from completing the exam.

If you are denied a black belt, you should discuss with your instructors and school how to retake the promotion exam and when you can do it. They will also help you target areas of improvement. It can be very discouraging to have spent all of those years and not be able to achieve your goal.


Even though you can’t become a black belt in less than a year, the time dedication makes becoming one that much more worth it. If it took less time and effort to become a black belt, so many more people would have them, which would probably diminish the honor and prestige that comes with being a black belt.