A black belt seems to be highly respected in martial arts, but what does a black belt symbolize?
A black belt in martial arts is often the highest possible belt, which means you are the master of the martial arts. Achieving a black belt typically takes years of training and a lot of dedication.
Let’s look deeper into what a black belt means, how long it takes to achieve and what are some martial arts with a black belt as the highest rank.
What does it mean for someone to have a black belt?
Having a black belt in a martial art is most of the time the highest belt color there is.
A black belt symbolized the mastery of that martial art and is a very respected merit in martial arts circles. Most of the martial arts gyms have instructors that are black belts and nothing below.
Having a black belt typically takes really long time, for example, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu it normally takes a decade of training before someone achieves a black belt.
The timeline might be shorter if you practice more, or it might take a lot longer if you take breaks every now and then. 10 years is the average.
It is similar to any other skill as well. It is commonly said that it takes 10 years of practice to master any skill. In order to be a master in snowboarding, 10 years is a good place to start. The same applies to martial arts, business, etc.
How to get a black belt in martial art?
To get a black belt, the first thing you have to do is start.
The beginning is always the hardest thing to do. After that, stick to the training, attend competitions, and maybe fulfill your learning with online courses and solo training and after a decade or less, you could be looking at a black belt on your waist.
I have a full guide on how to start training a martial art step-by-step, that can help you to get started.
Don’t get me wrong, even though starting is always the hardest, it is not easy to stick to something for 10 years straight.
A lot of people never achieve even the second lowest belt, and an even smaller percentage of people reach the highest belt color, which usually is the black belt.
Is the black belt the highest rank in martial arts?
For most martial arts that use belt order, the black belt is the highest. It is true that some martial arts do have higher belt colors, like Brazilian jiu-jitsu which has coral and red belts as well.
However, even in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a black belt is most of the time the highest color of belt people will achieve. There are not many coral and red belt holders out there. The number of black, coral, and red belt holders can be found here.
There are often different tiers to the black belt as well. Those can be divided into different categories with stripes. More about the stripe system in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in this post.
How long does it take to get a black belt in different martial arts?
Getting a black belt in different martial arts takes around 5 to 15 years depending on your training schedule as well as the martial art.
In karate, you could get a black belt in 5 years with regular training 2 to 3 times a week.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu takes around 10 years with that same training schedule.
For judo, it also takes closer to 10 years on average to get a black belt.
The black belt on taekwondo on average hovers around 5 years.
Therefore, if your goal is purely to get the status of a black belt, pick a martial art that has a shorter time in order to achieve that belt, such as taekwondo or karate.
What do belt colors mean in martial arts?
In short, belt colors tell how good you are at that certain martial art. If you have a white belt, that means you are still pretty early in your learning. The further you go, the more experienced you are in the martial arts. Belt colors are checkpoints towards the mastery of martial art.
Belt colors in martial arts tell how well you can handle the martial art at hand. Beginners typically have a white belt and start grinding up from that.
The belt orders and colors differ among different martial art, but typically black and red belts are the highest. A red belt is usually pretty difficult to achieve since you have to hold a black belt for a certain period of time before ascending to the red belt.
Black belt usually gets a lot of respect in martial arts circles. That is because it takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort to reach that status. Even if martial arts where takes a shorter amount of time to achieve, 5 years is still a lot.
The black belt means you have reached the highest ranking in that martial art, and the respect is well deserved at that point.
Belts in between white and black are not to be ignored either. Even achieving the second lower belt, which might be yellow, blue, or something else, depending on the martial art is also a great achievement. Most people never get further than a white belt.
In conclusion, a black belt symbolizes mastery of that certain martial art. Some martial arts have even higher than a black belt, typically red belts, but they are really rare.
There are other ways to rank progress in martial arts as well. For example, Wing Chun does not have belts, they use shirts and shirt colors to track their progress.
Hopefully this clarified what a black belt means, have a wonderful day!