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Why take 3 years to get the black karate belt?


Why take-3-years-to-be-black-beltor Why should you have your black karate belt as soon as possible?

In a recent post on Facebook, I wrote in title: « Why take 3 years to get the black belt while others do it in 2 ". It was obviously provocation. I had done it on purpose to react and create a controversy. Indeed, having his Karate black belt in 3 years is already very good and in 2, it is normally impossible ... Anyway, that's what everyone thinks, but in theory it's possible. Moreover, I will explain a little further how I did to get mine in just 2 years.

In fact, I write this article today following the little controversy, about the grade passages and especially the black belt, which arose on our group and our Facebook page. Indeed, some karateka do not wish to pass their black belt. It's their right and I respect it, but for me, do not spend your black belt, it's a bit like you want to be a carpenter without wanting to spend your CAP. Passing one's black belt is part of learning. This is the culmination of the learning phase and only then will you be able to express yourself fully through your practice. Having a black belt is not a goal in the sense of "end", but it is a goal in the sense of "stage". So, as long as you do not pass your black belt, you do not validate this first step and, in the end, you can not really continue on your way to Karate-do.

toolboxWhen you enter a club, it is as if you were given an empty toolbox, and until the black belt you fill your toolbox. But only after you start sharpening your tools will you actually practice using them. It is only after you express yourself fully through Karate.

A carpenter does not put 10 years to pass his CAP, but that does not prevent him from continuing to progress later in his art, on the contrary. If he does not pass his CAP and stays his whole life at the Training Center to always learn the same things, he will not really progress. It is only by confronting life, his career as a carpenter, and creating works with his own hands that he learns, often from his mistakes, and progresses. In the same way a brown belt that is not going to pass its black belt only learns and relearn the same things every year. He stays in a certain comfort. It progresses probably a little but never really lives his Karate. He is like a bird that dares not take flight and stays in the comfort of the nest.

To be a black belt is to have acquired, by dint of work, all the indispensable tools to practice correctly. Use these tools, jump from the nest and build your way, your do.

The black belt carries a lot of values, but it remains a beginning grade and that's why we must try to reach it as soon as possible and then really work. Before the black belt, it's a learning phase, it's your foundation. You have to apply yourself and work hard for your foundations to be strong, but you must not be stuck in these foundations. It is useless to sink foundations if it is not to build something on it. This something is your Karateka life. It's your knowledge, your progress, ...

You will often have to come back to strengthen your foundations but it will be to continue to build your way, and to climb higher and higher to the top of your art.

How I got my black belt in 2 years!

As promised, I will tell you how I got my black Karate belt in only 2 years (+ 1 months to be purist).

"Well, actually, to be perfectly honest, I only got the technical black belt in 2 years and not my 1er dan. The day of my passage of rank, about twenty pretenders, we were only 2 to have had the technical black belt. The organizers have not been able to make a pool of 6 to organize the combat part of 1er dan. But even, the technical part (Kihon, Kata and Kihon Ippon Kumite) in 2 years, I think many would be happy, especially that at the time we should know 8 Kata, not only 2. There were 5 Heian, Tekki Shodan, Bassai Dai et Kanku Dai. And besides, in 1995, there was no UV like today, if you did not have the technique, it was necessary to iron everything. "

How did I get to have it in 2 years when officially, even at the time, it took three license stamps? It's not complicated: I arrived at the club in November 1993 and I passed my black belt in December 1995 is 2 years and 1 months later but I had my 3 licenses: 93 / 94, 94 / 95 and 95 / 96. The regulation imposes 3 license stamps and not 3 years of practice so it must still be possible nowadays.

But how did I do concretely to progress so fast?

Now that I've answered the 2 questions I'm asked many times, I think what interests you most is how I did to progress so fast. It's very simple and I will not give you a miracle recipe because there is no secret: I worked, worked a lot and still worked ... In short, I worked all the time; At the 4 club at 5 once a week but also at home and I went to all the courses where I could go.

I explain in detail in the video below how I was able to pass my belts one after the other until the black when normally in the club there was only one passage per year and how I was able to pass my black belt at the end of 2 years only when I had just had my brown belt ... (it was a combination of circumstances, a little bluf same! You will see that on the video ...).

The black belt is just the beginning

I think you have to have your black belt quickly but I also think that we must not burn the stages. You have to go step by step and progress at your own pace because getting a black belt, although some would say it's easier today, it's still very difficult and it's a lot of work.

But if you say to beginners that they will not have it for a minimum of ten years, that does not motivate them too much. They will tend to come to class only once in a while because they do not really believe in it and, like many, in the orange or green belt, they will stop. I find it a pity. I think you have to show them, from the beginning, that they are able to put less than 5 years to have their 1er dan and if in the end they put a few more years it does not matter. The important thing is the motivation they will have from the beginning and the perseverance they will acquire.

As a teacher you have to explain to beginners, from the beginning, that you will make sure that they get their black belt as soon as possible. That it will be very hard, but that if they are motivated, they can get there in a few years (and not 10) and then will actually begin the practice of Karate.

Karate is a commitment of a lifetime, so tell it from the start to beginners!

By letting Karateka believe that it takes 10 years to get a black belt, it is not surprising that either they give up before or when they get it, they have the feeling that it is the end and that they stop just after the 1er dan. In fact, they are no longer motivated to go beyond. It's a shame because the first dan is really the starting grade. Only then will you be able to allow yourself to do much more personal research and really be able to work your Karate.

In any case it's the message I'm trying to convey to members of Karate3g ™

To conclude, here is the video that I posted on Facebook and where I develop my answers:

Here, as I always say, do not take everything I tell you literally. You must keep your free will and make your own opinion.

I invite you to leave me a comment below. I'll answer you with pleasure : "Do you think, like me, that you have to get your black belt quickly (without rushing the work) or that you do not have to wear more than one belt a year? "

Share this article in your clubs, so that your karate colleagues can also give their opinion.

I will tell you quickly.

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"How to succeed your grade passes"


  1. Hello,
    For me the question of his rank is not to be asked because it is not an end in itself. The color of the belt does not reflect the overall value of a Budoka. I have seen blue belts maltreat blacks in combat because more lively and combative.
    In Japan, there is white and black. We started with a white belt that got dirty over time, depending on the year of practice.
    In Europe the multiplication of grades reassures the student in his progression while nothing is ever acquired and a practitioner can deconstruct himself even if he does not question himself in his study. Hence the interest of having a good Sensei.
    The number of karate style is quite important, from traditional Okinawa which keeps its Chinese roots to the pure Japanese which has totally erased them there are differences. Example: the uki dachi is no longer present in the kata in Shotokan while he is omnipresent in the original kata. So, I think it's hard for a technician commission to judge something unfamiliar.
    Only your Sensei knows your course and progression, he or a Master of your school will fully judge your work and give you a mark of recognition of the path traveled.
    That said the levels of belts have their usefulness, they allow practitioners to quickly find their place in salvation without a rat race !!! ; )

  2. Hello Bruno,
    First of all I want to thank you, to thank you rather, since at my registration you said that now we could get to know each other 😉
    I simply bounce on the passage of belts, where some confuse speed and precipitation and which do not have for me not karate in the blood, if I can express myself thus!
    Oh yes what pride to say yours I am blue belt after 2 years ... while in other clubs I will only be the orange!
    Yes maybe but if you have to compare the levels I think they will not be the same.
    For my part I resumed karate last year after 20 years of stops following a move to the countryside where there was no club and a family life soon after ...
    But I always had karate in me and in a corner of my head I knew that I will resume one day.
    Here it is done, the black belt is still far because I am "only" green belt and even if my teacher at the belt crossing last year had considered passing me directly to the blue belt because according to him my level was worth it, he preferred to pass a belt a year and not to burn the steps ...
    Lens blue belt and over the weeks I discover new sensations especially at the level of my pelvis and my hips and I feel that I 'm catching the power!
    In just two years for clubs that make two trips a year, do they have time to discover his feelings? In these clubs I see some watching us a bit high, the air of saying I'm already such a belt, but when we happen to meet us during training grouped (a few times a year) and that at the same belt level they never made double-blocking for example ... there I realize that there is still work to go to the black belt ...
    Is it really the case that some clubs make this double belt pass? They will need a lot of work behind, much more than for the others and maybe that's where the lack of motivation is felt. Because for them if they are brown belt in barely 3 years, will not they think that they will have the black fingers in the nose like the rest ...? And this is where karatekas are unfortunately too often brown belt.
    I am for a belt crossing a year and for my part when my teacher will tell me and tell us all our turn that we can introduce ourselves to the black is that for my part I will be ready because I will not miss anything because we will have had time to learn and not only to fly over ...

    I thank you for taking the time to read me ... to answer your question if you are for a belt pass twice a year .... But karateka also evolves according to his club of course ... I'm not talking about his personal work ... that's another debate;))
    See you soon.

    • Bruno Bandelier at

      Hi Linda,

      I finally take the time to answer you. Sorry for being late 🙂

      When I say that you have to go quickly to pass your black belt, it is not to bacler the work or to fly over what one has to learn, it is on the contrary to redouble work in order to progress faster .

      You finish by saying that the personal work is another debate, but on the contrary, it is the very substance of this debate. Whether there is, 1, 2 or 3 grade passes per year in a club, has nothing to do with the level of the students (in any case it should not) and it is not on this subject that I started the debate but precisely on the personal work.

      Someone who does not come to class or just to do his gym but who does not try to learn anything, even a passage per year is too much, but someone who trains 5 once a year week at the club and in addition to doing personal work, research, who participates in the courses, ... it is logical that it evolves much faster and it is not shocking that he passes several belts in the 'year.


  3. Hi Bruno,
    You give courses (karate 3g) remotely, you make preparations ... Without going to a dojo (club) could I pass my belts (levels) by correspondence and prepare for the black belt and spend in 3 years? say as a self-taught? is it possible?
    Or do I have to register during 3 years in a club? Or do you have to have a passport that details the passages from white to yellow from yellow to orange etc etc with the signature of the sensei ... is this essential? I'm white and my teacher tells us that it takes at least 7 years of practice to introduce the black and it's too long for me, it passes a belt every year ...
    And you're preparing, are you able to validate passages of belts?
    in fact what is not explained anywhere are the conditions to pass the black belt ???? For example, are these conditions cumulative: being registered in a karate club for 3 years to have 3 licenses? Or do we also have to be able to validate all the kyus? or can we sit for the exam without having all the kyus? I swim completely! can we take stock? Thank you cdt

  4. Hello Bruno,

    I started karate this year, on a combination of circumstances certainly, but with a real love at first sight!
    For me initially the challenge was to "hold" a course, after several years without real sports practice and 4 children ... and very quickly I gave myself as a goal 10 years to pass my black belt. If at first I saw this as an outcome, I quickly realized that the work would then only begin ...! Nevertheless, even if I find your discourse motivating in a certain way, one must also be realistic about its own potential and its availability to become a black belt "as fast as possible" ... For me, the course counts as much as the end, and each course passed, each gesture learned, each technique memorized is above all a "small" victory over myself and one more step in my path, and I must say that it gives me some pride ...! Thank you for your very clear videos that allow me to work my katas!


    • Hello Isabelle,

      Thank you for your testimony. What I mean by "as fast as possible", is not to let go and stay focused on this first objective.You have just started and you gave yourself 10 years to get your black belt . It is good to have made this commitment, but personally I think it is too long. Yes the way is exciting, but it is a mountain and you must try to climb constantly to avoid going down. Why limit yourself? You probably have the potential to have it before so fix you rather 5 or 6 years and you will feel motivated to always get out of your comfort zone to progress and finally each course will be another victory to reach your goal.
      We talk about it in 5 years


    I'm really happy with you Mr. Bruno, you're right! I think that not to pass a rank would, in a way, accuse his teacher that he is not working! Yet, the goal of the teacher is that he shapes you, transforms you! it is obvious that we evolve and that we change.

  6. Hello Bruno, perso I do not run after this belt, even passing colors, I wore 6 my white years ...
    Change dojo and school, I want to start from scratch, but the passage of the blue after one year.
    Now I leave with a blue for 5, 6 years or more ...
    No desire on my part for the moment and for me, today, it represents just the legal basis for a DAF, DIF or more ...
    So I do not feel the need yet!
    Maybe one day.
    : )

    • Good evening Serge,

      If I can afford it's not your job to define whether or not you need the black belt. You want to make Karate, it should be an obligation, like wearing a Kimono (Karate-gi for purists).
      The 1er dan is the beginner's grade. If you do not even want to reach the rank of beginner it is as if you wanted to learn to swim but without ever getting in the water.

      Here is traditionally the meaning of in:
      1er dan (student): lowest level, beginner (having studied the base)
      2ème dan (disciple): external technical work ("Omote"), pure technique
      3ème dan (confirmed): internal work ("Okuden") and mental work ("Shisei")
      4ème dan (expert): level of technical and mental perfection from which initiation to true mastery can begin
      5eme / 6ème dan (Renshi): one who has been "forged", has acquired the expertise and mastery of his style, and has the qualifications to teach
      7eme / 8ème dan (Kyoshi): Has inner mastery, and has in-depth knowledge of martial arts techniques and tradition
      9eme / 10ème dan (Hanshi): the one who has received everything and who, in turn, can "give", he has an exceptional character and morality

      As you see the 1er dan is at the beginning. If you put your reasoning in life (because Karate is a way of life), it could not work. For example, it is as if you enter a learning center with the firm intention of not leaving and not passing an exam ... because you do not feel the need. It would be a little frustrating for your training supervisors?
      At the club it's the same, it's your duty (need or not) to progress, if only out of respect for your teacher.
      But of course I respect your choice and that's only my opinion (But you would be my student, I would not give you this choice :-D)


      • Bruno,
        I hear your reasoning well, after I progress slowly, do from time to time internships, work with the most senior, but this choice, I have it, even after 15 years of practice I could easily change school, or even move on, always martial ...
        But I understand you too!
        In life, for me, this system worked in reverse, I passed a baccalaureate in a specialty that did not kick me, result, several jobs not interesting, change of orientation at random, a BTS in another specialty, ditto, a position that allowed me to achieve the status of executive, result, resignation ...
        Today I work in a sector that I have never graduated and everything is going well ...
        The first dan, ditto, what good if it's to let go after history to do something else ...

    • I am a little of this opinion? For me, the practice is valid if you feel stronger (not THE strongest). The rest does not interest me.
      So all things considered I find your approach rather healthy ....

      The "traditional" practice is described in a small book:

      For postures (free pdf):

      What we call karate is not traditional, since it is a recent creation, and was not part of the traditional Japanese martial arts.

      Belts colors: Mikonosuke Kawaishi, judoka, 1926 associates color belts with kyu.

      Shōgō is the name of the system of titles set up by Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, created in 1895 in Kyoto. To note that 1895 is already more the time of the Samurais, since at this date their privileges were already removed (wearing 2 sabers, bun, ..)

      Renshi (錬 士): external mastery
      Kyoshi (教士): inner mastery
      Hanshi (範士): unified inner and outer masteries

      It was at Dai Nippon Butokukai, who presided over the destinies of the Budos (arts of war) that Chojun Miagy (Okinawa master) presented karate and was awarded the title of "kyoshi" and not Mr. Funakoshi who had not convinced . Subsequently it worked out but he did not have the level of Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju-Ryu style.).

      Others have made equivalences with scholarly paintings or they have put themselves! and the curricula are very different depending on whether you are following a path or another.

      When Westerners discovered Japanese martial arts to 1900, it was a question of jujitsu and not karate. On this subject, there was Inspector Buvat's manual in 1910.

      To return to the traditional, in my opinion, would be to reconstruct a method of defense that consisted of Okinawa techniques. This exit of the sport takes place at some aikidokas:

      Some people think about the problem (self-defense) because there is the psy and legal aspect like "Face the violence, prepare for the unexpected"
      or more related to karate like "karate: efficiency at your fingertips"

      • Hello my dear Bruno;
        Yes me personally to have my black belt it took me 5-6 years of practice and a lot of work !!!! (1998-2003)
        I trained a little while later to keep the gains and I made more Aikido than Karate from 2004 because I had greatly increased due to a drug treatment to treat me ...
        I was able to practice with a lot of weight loss Aikido and I practiced karate with my ex-girlfriend at the time and some other 2X friends a month ...
        in the past; I also kickboxed some Thai boxing and kung fu ...
        here is currently I train at home 2X a week with your videos and 1X at the end of the week at Dojo!
        I also practice Aikido and Judo regularly with a group of friends and friends ...

        • Bonjour David,

          Thank you for your testimony. I see you alternate workouts at home on Karate3g and your training at the dojo. It's perfect. I think that if you only did your training at the Dojo you would progress much less. What do you think ?


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