It takes anywhere between 3 to 10 years and consistent work for one to move through the ranks to achieve the black belt in most martial arts. Some, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, are tough and require a lot of time, dedication, and skill to become a black belt. However, some martial arts are a bit easier and take a shorter time to rise to the top.
Here are the 8 easiest martial arts in which to get a black belt:
- Taekwondo (3-5 years)
- Hapkido (3 years)
- Karate (5-7 years)
- Aikido (4-5 years)
- Arnis (4-5 years)
- Krav Maga (3 years)
- Judo (3-6 years)
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (8-12 years)
Students earn the black belt after years of perseverance, discipline, and commitment. This article will discuss some of the easier martial arts to rise in rank and how long it will take you to become a black belt.
What is the Typical Time Frame to Get a Black Belt in Martial Arts?
Take a look at the table below if you just want to see what the typical time frame is to receive a black belt in these disciplines:
|Martial Art||Typical Time Frame to Black Belt|
|Krav Maga||3 Years|
|Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu||8-12 Years|
1. Taekwondo (3-5 Years)
It usually takes an average of 3-5 years for a student of Taekwondo to attain the first level black belt. Students have no guarantee that they will get their black belt since they must usually pass a test to prove that they have reached the black belt skill level.
Students may take longer to earn the black belt because:
- They are anxious during testing, not necessarily because they do not have the skills.
- Taekwondo places a high premium on spinning kicks and high kicks. Some students take longer to build up competency in these styles of kicks.
- Black belt holders of Taekwondo need to have a refined sense of balance, flexibility, and timing. For students who are not naturally gifted with these traits it may take longer to get there.
- Students might have trouble combining all the skills learned in Taekwondo into a holistic skill set for self-defense and testing purposes.
Even if students fail, good traditional teachers of Taekwondo can help students learn that failure is not a problem as long as students learn from their mistakes.
This video gives tips on how to prepare for a black belt in Taekwondo.
2. Hapkido (3 years)
Hapkido is a Korean martial art that is named for harmony (Hap), power (Ki), and way or power (Do). Unlike other Korean martial arts, like Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do, which focus on forceful blocking, Haphido’s emphasis is on deflecting attacks.
Hapkido is one of the easiest martial arts to get a black belt because if you train three days a week for three years, you have a high chance of earning a black belt. However, the duration it takes depends on your skill and dedication.
In fact, some organizations that train Hapkido martial arts worry that the art is at risk of ruining its reputation because black belts are awarded too often and quickly. These organizations have too many competitions that allow students to rise in rank too fast with minimal time and input in their physical and spiritual growth.
Many students of Hapkido find it difficult to control the strength to use in defense without going overboard. Instructors use the principles of circles, water, and harmony to help students understand the framework to follow when using throws, strikes, and kicks.
Hapkido aims to equip students with skills that they can use in encounters when they need to defend themselves.
Hapkido prioritizes manipulation techniques, like joint locks, throws, and deflections over the use of traditional striking you see in many other martial arts.
3. Karate (5-7 Years)
If a student practices Karate for a minimum of two days a week and shows some coordination, strength, body awareness, and speed, he is likely to rise the ranks to the black belt within five years.
Since Karate is a hybrid martial art, the materials can take between 5 and 7 years of consistent training to acquire the expertise necessary to advance to a black belt.
There is no set standard over how long it will take a student of Karate to achieve a black belt, but there are guidelines that karate schools follow to help determine when a student is worth the blackbelt.
Attaining a Karate black belt depends on a few things. They include the student’s commitment and the expectations of the issuing school. Some of the factors considered include:
- Age of student.
- Training frequency.
- The student’s tenacity.
- Skill level.
Karate divisions have different requirements for the black belt. For example, Shotokan Karate is one of the toughest and requires one to have memorized at least 75 striking moves. Students also need to have participated in and perfected Kata, a memorized sequence of Karate techniques.
While it takes about 5 years to get a black belt, some students earn the black belt in 2-3 years. However, Karate masters discourage rising too fast through the ranks. They believe that the wisdom, spiritual growth, and skill obtained when studying for the black belt takes time, and it cannot and shouldn’t be rushed.
4. Aikido (4-5 Years)
A diligent student practicing Aikido several times a week can get to the black belt level in 4-5 years. Unlike other martial arts, where students are tested before they get the black belt, in Aikido, the instructor has to be confident that the student has earned the title.
Students may struggle to attain a black belt in Aikido for various reasons:
- Some schools have stricter and wider technical knowledge that can be a challenge for some students.
- Aikido Instructors have different expectations. Some follow the standard objectives of Aikido, while others look at an individual’s path. So, even if you have mastered Aikido, your spiritual path or physical limitations may keep you from getting the black belt.
- Some students struggle to understand the flow of the movements within a technique or connect the dots on when to use a technique
- Other students have issues because they concentrate on their strengths and ignore their weaknesses.
Students who choose to live at the institution (uchi-deshi) may take a shorter time to get the black belt. This is primarily because of the amount of time they commit to their training, which is much more than students who practice for a few hours a week.
5. Arnis (4-5 Years)
Arnis, which originates in the Philippines, is also known as Kali Arnis, Escrima, and Modern Arnis. It has undergone quite a transformation. Classical Arnis was all about warfare, with blades as the primary tools of engagement. Today, most instructors teach Modern Arnis, where sticks and everyday objects are used instead of blades.
Before becoming an Arnis black belt, students are expected to have mastered movements and techniques in safely handling multiple weapons, including knives, swords, sticks, and nerve sticks. Their ability to handle a combination of these weapons simultaneously is also tested.
Besides warfare, students also need to showcase their ability to fight without weapons.
Other factors that determine if a student is ready for the first-degree black belt include the following:
- The minimum age to qualify is 18 years.
- Must have advanced blocks, stances, strikes, counter strikes, and disarming capabilities.
- Participation in tournaments.
- Must be proficient in both basic and advanced Anyo.
- Must showcase all the skills that earned them all the other belts before the black belt.
Getting the Arnis black belt requires dedication and commitment. It takes time for one to master all the skills and techniques. It takes 4-5 years for most students to earn an Arnis black belt. However, like other Martial Arts, the black belt is the beginning of another set of intense training to earn all the black belt degrees.
6. Krav Maga (3 years)
Krav Maga was developed from the military martial arts used by the Israeli Defense Forces and involves the brutal use of elbows, kicks, punches, knees, chokes, defense strikes, and weapons. Krav Maga in the United States is adapted to be a self-defense-focused martial art that includes all forms of fighting including groin strikes and eye gouges to quickly and aggressively defend yourself.
Krav Maga is result-oriented, focusing on helpful techniques ideal for dangerous, unexpected situations. Krav Maga focuses on subduing the attacker in the shortest time possible. A student who attends classes several times a week is likely to be a blackbelt in 3 years.
7. Judo (3-6 years)
Judo has ten black belt degrees (dans), from shodan to judan. However, it usually takes 3-6 years to achieve the first dan, the beginning of the black belt in Judo. Judo students are expected to master match-winning powerful throws if they are to win the black belt.
Judo is a very merit-based martial art in which testing and mastery of the martial art are standard at many belt levels and the reputation and lineage of your Judo instructors are important. Judo requires serious commitment and effort and is one of the most athletically demanding martial arts to reach a high level of expertise
Most students take around 3 to 6 years to get the black belt. However, it takes some students, especially those who cannot commit to consistently training at least 2 to 3 times a week, a bit longer.
Other challenges that can cause students to take a long time to earn the Judo black belt include:
- A lack of focus on the basics like grip fighting and off-balancing.
- Lacking the overall fitness that is required to perform Judo at a high level.
- Injuries that prevent training for significant periods of time.
- Inconsistent training schedule through life events or travel.
8. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (8-12 years)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu typically takes between 8 to 12 years to achieve a black belt. It is not the easiest martial art to get a black belt because in BJJ the black belt is considered to be the point of mastery of the art, unlike in other martial arts in which an early black belt is considered to be more of a high-intermediate level of mastery.
A skilled student is likely to rise more quickly in rankings to be a black belt, especially if they are very cerebral about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu learning and training or very athletically gifted. BJJ is somewhat unique in martial arts in that it blends hobbyist athletes and serious athletes, often in the same classes.
In many BJJ schools, it is possible to train somewhat casually and black belts are awarded differently between categories of students. A 40-year-old family-oriented hobbyist can get a black belt with different skill acquisition and athletic execution expectations than a 20-year-old college athlete.
So while it may take a long time to achieve a black belt in BJJ, a hobbyist can expect training to be only moderately difficult depending on the individual school that they attend.
Most students take 10 years or more to get the black belt because BJJ has a lot of movements, techniques, and concepts to master due to its complexity as a martial art. In most cases, one’s progress may plateau at some levels, so getting the black belt can take a long time. Additionally, since it takes such a long time to achieve, life can get in the way and force breaks for individuals.
There are many good choices of martial arts that are relatively easy to get a blackbelt in and can be integrated into normal life. The time frames and difficulty of training may differ from martial art to martial art, but if you enjoy your training, it will always be worth taking up the pursuit.
For more check out 5 Hardest Martial Arts To Get a Black Belt