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You can all be Black Belt - The written evidence!


Bruno Bandelier Black Belt

The black belt, the total knowledge ...

We often hear about the black Karate belt as an outcome, or even, for some, as an inaccessible stage. It is not so.

Whatever your current level, you are all capable of getting a black belt!

And I will prove it to you ...

Contrary to what many people think, the black belt is not a very high stage in the knowledge of karate, on the contrary, it corresponds to the beginning of a life devoted to karate.

Some day ago I received an email from someone who wants to start karate with a very ambitious goal to one day obtain a black karate belt.
I say very ambitious because for him she represented: " total knowledge of Karate«

However, it is not. Because if this total knowledge exists, it is well beyond the 1er dan.

Indeed, we get a black belt in 4 to 5 years in general. But after, 10, 15, 30 years of practice do not you think the level is significantly higher? Of course yes.

This email, and the answer that I made, make me want to write this article in which I would like demystify the sacrosanct black karate belt ou black belt (for bilinguals).

And I will bring you proof that each of you is quite capable by a regular job of getting it. She is not inaccessible.

The black belt is just the beginning!

I am not trying to downplay the technical qualities of Karateka black belts, nor the work necessary to obtain the black belt, but just to demystify the image that is sometimes given.

The black belt, many in dreams and it's true, thatit takes a lot of work to obtain it, but it must not be seen as a consecration or an end. It's quite the opposite.

In fact being a black belt means that we know more or less all the basic techniques which will then allow us to evolve and progress.

The child and the writing

To our friend who wrote to me, I gave him, in my answer, the example of a child at school who begins to learn writing:

The child and the writingAt first he must learn to draw each letter, one by one, making lines of A, then B, then C, ... His letters are a little wobbly but as he trains, he improves, it is becoming more accurate ...

Then by grouping the letters, his (school) teacher teaches him how to form syllables, then his first words ....

After a while, he will be able to write his first little sentences, and so on. He will learn the subtleties of spelling, conjugation ...

At the end of the middle school (before high school), the student knows all the common words and is able to read and write correctly.

His Master could name him ... black writing belt : )

Indeed, he knows all the bases of writing and he put about 5 years to get there (does it remind you of anything? ;-))

These bases will allow him now to evolve all his life reading, writing, evolving, criticizing ...

In short, these bases are the essential tools for climbing the markets of knowledge.

At karate, it's the same. With the black belt, one has forged one's body and acquired the technical baggage to be able to "Start" learning karate, to climb one by one the steps towards ... "the total knowledge" (if it exists ...)

Conclusion :
If you have been able to learn to write,
you are able to get a black belt (CQFD)

The black belt is not the top of Karate, it is The foundations ; The base on which the Karateka will be able to continue his progression all his life.

But beware, our friend was not completely wrong by putting the black belt on a pedestal because if I say that the black belt is just a beginning, I also say that it is the foundation of Karate. And without foundation, there is no progression possible. We must not neglect the black belt.

You are all able to get it, but as they say:

no pain, no gain (always for bilingual ;-))

Here I will end this little reflection on the demystification of the black karate belt, by this little maxim:

The black belt is to be taken very seriously because you are building the foundations of your art, but without taking yourself too seriously because to build a foundation, you have to keep your feet on the ground.

or as our friend Ali would say in his last comment :

it's good to look at the sky but focus on the feet that should not leave the earth, not to mention that modesty is the key to success

And you what do you think ?

Do you feel able to get the black belt?
If you already have it, do you think you've reached the top?

I look forward to your comments.

See you soon,

Facebook Comments
Guide offered!
"How to succeed your grade passes"


  1. Hello. I wanted to thank you for giving me the courage to continue karate, I was on the brown belt more than 5 years, I was about to stop and start practicing taekwondo but I finally returned on the way to karate and I will spend my black belt in 3 months. and I also wanted to receive your e-mails to progress quickly
    I have scheduled personal revisions, videos, and individual training at the gym.
    I wanted to thank you individually.

  2. Hi Bruno,
    thank you for your interest, yes do not worry I would say if I have it or not, no worries. I work hard about 6h a week when I can good it's a small sacrifice for a noble art. yes not in 20 years worries you, not so good luck to all and all of good of Switzerland.

  3. Hi Bruno,
    thank you for your interest, yes do not worry I would say if I have it or not, no worries. I work hard about 6h a week when I can good it's a small sacrifice for a noble art. yes not in 20 years do not worry then good luck to all and all good of Switzerland.

  4. Hello bruno
    I spend my black soon and I feel forgetting everything especially in kions my black beast I know the movements but some bcp hard to be restrained so hard for the passage if I make other movement that I am asked the rest his va katas, target no worries but these kions ouille hard eliminated so bad note? good hope to have it before 70 years good at least I would have but in 20an lol good go I stay zen and good luck to all and thank you for reading us bruno

  5. Bruno, hello

    I sent you an email a few days ago ... but no answer ... 58 years I have several questions to ask you, the meaning of my approach is to "resume" correctly karate being helped.
    But can we join you "privately" on the internet?
    If so, write me on my email address so that I can ask you my questions and describe my goals.


  6. Hello Bruno,
    For my part I did several martial arts before arriving at karate (namely 3 years of Taekwendo and 2 judo)
    this is 2 years that I do karate
    In karate what I appreciate is the fact of always having to learn, that we really start karate at the black belt, which would be the equivalent of a white belt for me ...
    I have already refused to pass a belt because I do not adhere to this system of rank. For me belts are used to show others what we are worth. But I know what I'm worth, I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I think that all the intermediate belts before the black are worthless ... I say that because I have too often seen belts brown or black-white believe to have the best techniques of the world and under this pretext do not even calculate the people of lower grade while sometimes I felt I could see something else they had not seen ... we also learn that as an orange belt for example we can not work the same way a belt blue. So the belt and especially its black color definierai? We are stowed in boxes, we carry a label "bad", "very bad", "a little less good"?
    In the spirit of contradiction, I would rather be going to the end of my thought. I do not need anyone to tell me what level I have so I keep my white belt and people will continue to underestimate me wrong ^^
    My question is: can we refuse to pass the color belts and pass the black after having acquired all the techniques and experience?

    Thank you for your answer in advance

    • Hello Iris,

      I will be clear with you. You can absolutely refuse the graduation but for me it is a great lack of respect towards your teacher.
      I understand your point very well, but I do not adhere to it at all. If I am fine, your teacher is quite capable of giving you lessons, to train you, but you do not think he has the competence to judge you.
      You will always find a white belt that can beat a black belt, because it's not only the technique that comes into play, there is the state of mind, and many other things, but it's not not as belts have no value and are useless. The color belts have a teaching role that allows the teacher and the students to situate themselves, not in relation to others but in relation to a technical progression. By keeping your white belt while you have a much higher level, people do not underestimate you, on the contrary, beginners who arrive at the club do not understand why they can not do this or that technique while you , also a white belt, gets there. In fact, it disrupts the group enormously because the others can no longer be in their progress.
      It's also bad for you because even if you know what you're worth, you stay in a certain comfort zone; Indeed, as long as you keep your white belt, nothing forces you to work like a colored belt, while wearing the belt that corresponds to your technical level you have to work at this level and seek to progress .
      We can go even further, you can also come in shorts or dressed as you wish because after all why put a Karategi? it just puts you in the box "Karateka" ... In short, it would go if you were alone, or if it was a decision of your teacher not to give color belts but you are in a group (a club ) and there are rules to respect and especially a teacher. By refusing to put on your color belt, it's as if you are questioning his pedagogy and his judgment. I repeat, for me it is a great lack of respect.
      Of course you do what you want, if your teacher accepts this situation (but I doubt that deep in him, he is delighted) but know that if you worked with me, I would force you to wear your belt color.


      • Hello Bruno,

        Oh yes, I did not see it that way at all. If I asked you this question it was not at all for the purpose of a lack of respect or for the purpose of not integrating into a group. I refused to wear a belt because I have a friend of mine who in another martial art had done before and I adhere to his vision of things.
        I think then that one is "forced to enter boxes" when one finds oneself in group. So I think that in the future I would do as everyone and I would pass the ranks and wear the belts of colors although I still wonder about their usefulness (since these colors did not exist originally and that it is a system set up for children to show them that they have evolved). But if it's a way of respect for the teacher and if a color is the key to being part of a group I would wear it. I do not want to make controversy ^^ '


  7. Hello Bruno, how do you manage to succeed in passing a grade if you are afraid of the eyes of others, that all the attention is on you?

    Do you have any advice to give me because I would like to introduce myself to a passage of rank and also start a season of karate because I tell myself that if everyone sees me a year more belt white, I do not know how I explain to them that I am afraid of the passage of rank.

    Best regards.

    • Hello Joyenna,

      I understand your problem because a lot of people are in your case. Tell yourself that when you present yourself to pass a yellow belt, no one expects you to do a black belt job. Everyone has been there and knows that karate is difficult and that at the beginning, it is beginner, it is normal. Do not be afraid of the eyes of others because they are Karateka who know your difficulties because they lived them too. You can also talk frankly with your teacher, he will probably find the words to reassure you.
      In the meantime, I invite you to read this article I wrote on the grade passages:

      Good luck and above all do not give up, instead raise your head and be proud of your journey.


  8. Hello,
    yes, of course I would like to get the black belt but I do not focus on it. If I took up karate, it is to regain flexibility and stretching then to work the cardio and manage the fighting at the end of the course. I say to myself that I will pass the belts one after the other and if I do not have the level,
    it does not matter. The belt is equivalent to a certain level in karate but that does not mean much. In combat a black belt can be beaten by another belt, green, orange. There are some who are good in technique and in bad combat.

  9. Hello, I have 52 years I totally agree the black is the beginning of the work, I must pass it I have the basic techniques but I still have a lot of work to do, before deserve it, I started karate by default to myself even after a cerebral hemorrhage, I always lost balance the experts told me it's irreversible I fought against myself I explained to the teacher I did according to my possibilities and two and a half years after I found my balance a beautiful challenge, but it is not finished. I progress at my own pace for myself I have nothing to prove to anyone, it's my fight and I intend to continue as long as possible, karate is good for me, So good luck to all white belt or black, made you pleasure above all and in the respect of all.

    • Good-morning Paul,

      I thank you sincerely for your message full of hopes and especially I congratulate you. Your experience shows that with a specific goal embellished with a will to any test and perseverance we get everything we want, and sometimes even when others think it's impossible.
      Everything is possible for the one who wants it and who believes in it.
      Congratulations and thank you for this feedback and good luck.


  10. Hello Bruno, I'm quite ok with what you said, my daughter Emma 10 years ago attacked her fourth year shotokan karate she is currently green belt, she also competes kata and fight.
    For me having practiced boxing foot poins and the JJB (not karateka at the base), still practicing a lot of other endurance sports. I think that karate is a sport that is far from being limited to the level (codified) , ranks or belt, it's a state of mind a sport where all one's life can evolve, and the black or some is limited is just the beginning of the adventure.
    Thank you for your very good blog and see you soon.

  11. The rules to have the belt have changed especially on the knowledge of kata 2 to choose.Je meet elders who have remained brown belt and it corresponds to a slice of karate kas who are not oriented competitions no more. They practice karate for themselves, but at a cost: the lack of credibility to offer something else. Hence the interest of passing official grades.
    On the other hand, I meet old people who practice to have the black belt and then stop, a little like a student who would leave his books of course once the diploma obtained. Often above 50 years this can be explained by a desire to validate what we know but against the current of a practice that is not adapted. From where passed a course the practice no longer makes sense.
    In my humble opinion, karate is a creation of G.Funakoshi's son by young Japanese academics. During the war the shotokan became frequented by some nationalist circles and kamikazes whose concern is not really longevity. From this it follows that it is no longer suitable past a certain age.
    I think it's up to the elders to stay and create other practices. I thought that it would be innovation to consider when I realized that the karate of Me Funakoshi is more practicable on the long term (see on my comparative site). It is not enough much just to be lower , aiming lower, focusing on the upper limbs (as you grow older, the lower limbs are less effective), then you have to consider bodybuilding and breathing ... This leads to a form of Okinawan karate ....

  12. Hello Bruno

    I like the analogy with the learning of writing and language, it demystifies a little thing.
    I started karate last October (at 40 years). A project I had Since 3 years after an initiation at a convention around the Japanese culture.
    So it's all fresh. The black belt still seems distant, but for the moment it is not an objective in itself. More than the goal is the way to go and the learning that interests me.

  13. Mugiwara_No_Zey at

    I totally agree with what you say and for my part I have always had this anointed by telling me that "in some months, I will have it and it will be only the beginning" (because yes I'm only brown )
    For me, Karate is a very deep art that deserves learning (thank our little Japanese ^ ^) and once you have mastered the basics of learning to others in our turn =)

  14. Hello, your article corresponds exactly to the idea that I am making of the black belt. I have 55 years, I started karate 5 years ago I just got my brown belt and I actually after a few years of practice I understood that the black belt was not the end but the beginning.
    I think I'll wear my black belt next year if I feel ready because I'd like to have it all at once.
    After everything will start.

  15. Hello Bruno, I Practice Karate For Several Years, I Have 2 Knee Problems, I'm going to have 2 Arthroscopies Left and Right Knees, I'm going to stop karate no longer please me, I would like to see Krav Maga, To Change, I await your answer . Bruno Receive My Sincere Distinguished Greetings. is

    • Hello, I practiced karate very low for two years, before a "kung-fu" very low with bag + sprained serious plaster, still before karate very low.At the end, it is the patellar tendons that suffer but c is a tendinitis and that goes, then miraculously it fades and comes back.

      To make my little memory aid, I had to take a picture to draw, and static poses very low time that the catches follow one another. Weird result the next day I had more pain at the knees past a certain angle.

      In my opinion, if one wants to stay in the eastern countries, there is taekwondo and hapkido that have similarities with karate. In taekwondo, kata (pom) are almost upright, and it's more based on flexibility. The supports are different it favors the speed so less steep ...... The ideal is to find a traditional oriented club unless you want competitive ...

      Then, except serious injury, there is food to consider as well as maintains certain practices of Fledenkrais, can help ...

  16. Hello Bruno,

    I am currently a karateka wado ryu yellow belt.
    Your article is very motivating, I found the answers to my questions.

    For me, the black belt is a goal that will allow me to fully develop in my passion: karate.

    Monday I have my grade passage. I know three katas: pinan nidan, pinan shodan and pinan sandan. I know a little about pinan shodan bunkai.

    Thank you again for all your articles that are very interesting.


  17. Yahia Brahim at

    Hello Mr Bruno B.
    About the black belt, actually in the mind of the common man it represents many things but advancing in the practice of karate it becomes within the reach of each of us.
    For me the black belt and I am perfectly of your opinion, is within our reach from the first years of practice of Karate.
    Perseverance, determination and enthusiasm are the secret of reducing the number of years required to obtain this famous belt.
    For me in addition, having the black belt is good but love Karate is even better and I am sure.
    For the commentary itself, your comparison is really subtle and your advice has always helped me.
    Thank you baby.
    YBM Alger Algeria

  18. Hello Bruno
    Thank you for your blog, very useful.
    I started karate last September and am now a yellow belt. What progress has already been made in 7 months of practice at the rate of 2 weekly hours!
    I do not despair of arriving at the black belt, knowing full well that this is only a beginning and certainly not an end in itself!
    in any case, I am always very interested in your very practical and operational advice.

  19. Yes, hello Bruno!
    Totally agree with you, the black belt is the representation of the good student who worked hard to get this reward (his toolbox).
    Now he will be able to tinker, repair, dismantle, reassemble, discover and that in many areas of life.
    The black belt is not the outcome but an open door to the future!
    This is Bruno I hope that my little comment will have pleased you.

    Kind regards Michel

  20. HELLO
    here, I ask the same question to everyone (Valera Dominique, federation of national departmental karate) ect ect ect ect nobody answers, in contact, Mr. Valera says that it is necessary to speak in French, in this is interwieuv, and when he This series speaks Japanese, and it is impossible to find the exact program of the passage of the black belt in karate contact, all the stuff that I find speaks Japanese, maguerrie mawashi ect ect, what to do to prepare this belt

    I thank you for the response goodbye

  21. Hello Bruno,

    I just spent Shodan at 59 years ago!
    I let you imagine the pleasure (modest and reserved) that it brought me.
    But beyond that feeling a little self-centered to have achieved a goal, but if I know that I'm actually "only a student at the beginning of the course!) My second thought (after my teacher ... ) went to you. Your advice brought me exactly what I was looking for when the problem arose.
    I had a sore dog on the hips ("free the hips"); I found my kicks "amateurish and without power" (I applied the swaying so that "the great Trochanter" does not block the magnitude of the movement); I was a little silly on Ko-kutsu, I followed your advice full of common sense.

    For all this, my dear Bruno, you have my eternal gratitude.

    Thank you and have a good trip!


    Philippe STEGER

  22. Hello,

    Thank you for this very interesting article.

    At about 11 I spent my white-black belt, so I was close to the black belt. I wanted to pass this belt and I was working for but I was told that I had to have 14 years to try the grade pass. Disappointed to have to wait more than 3 years to try to have it, I stopped karate.

    Today I have 17 years and I regret. It's been a few years that I would like to resume karate but a question always came to my mind:
    "If I take up karate, should I go back to the white belt or could I tighten my black-white belt around my kimono? "

    I hope you have an answer to my question.

    See you soon and thanks !

  23. Hello, without any pretensions on my part, I have the impression to read me, I practice karate for almost thirty years (I am 52) I am a graduate (dif) and I pass almost the same message.
    and of course I'll add "be serious without taking it seriously"

    See you soon maybe.

  24. Hello,
    I will soon pass my black belt 1er dan.
    For this purpose I will do an internship that can earn me 1 bonus point.
    So my question is where will this bonus point be? -in the general average?
    -in one of the notes of my UV?

    thank you in advance for the raiponce or the raiponces

    • Hello,
      the bonus points can be obtained only during training with federal experts (list on FFK) unfortunately they are very little or during league training preparation for the passage of rank. be careful there is the presence of a federal expert. the exam is composed of several UV whose total score is 120, you must have the average and if it is missing 1 or 2 points this is added. the award is on the overall score unless a UV is lower than 6 it will necessarily be ironed.Next the rank can get more or less bonus points.
      Personally, I think that it is not necessary to count on it but it is imperative to do the preparation courses (official and non-commercial) to be well prepared.

      "It is the purpose of the walk that counts but the journey that leads to it".


  25. Hello Bruno,

    I spent yesterday my black belt 1er DAN successfully
    I am obviously delighted
    your videos and tips were very helpful and thank you
    but it was not an end in itself, it's the beginning of my path on the way to Shotokan Karate
    I have also been admitted to the DIF of the FFKDA
    I am committed to this exciting mission of transmitting the precepts of Karate Do


  26. hello Bruno this true that the vision of a video this not bad for the gesture but it's not worth the image of the teacher the gesture and easier to understand and technically also greetings or ...... (I allow myself this reflection because I'm a practitioner ) good Karate

  27. hi eddy

    no problem to start 45 years, I took 42 years after 15 ansn d stop

    will see on the internet the many temoigagnes of those who started after 40 years

    and some of which are black belts

    I think bruno will respond better than me but for example in my case I do two sessions a week: one in the dojo and uen at home because I can not go to both

    but in any way the first year unless you're very sporty at the base it's hard to keep up the pace


  28. I have never done karate, but today, I have 45 years and I would like to start. But, is not it too late? And what would be the good training frequency to be able after 4-5 years to get a solid foundation (black belt)?

    • Hi Eddy,

      I agree with what Franck wrote to you, there is no age to begin. You will find on this blog many people who started well after 45 years and are delighted.
      It's difficult and we do not have the same ease as 20 years but it's so good ... The benefits as well, physical and mental that will bring you the practice of Karate are invaluable and the efforts you will have to make will only be fun.

      You want to do karate! Your age does not matter. Enjoy yourself and throw yourself. You're going to have fun !

      To progress, the ideal is 3 sessions per week, but if you did not do sports before it's a little too much especially early.
      As Franck says, 2 sessions is pretty good. If you have the time, you can also add some running time to improve your endurance and bodybuilding without equipment of the type. to accelerate your progress (more strength, speed, stability ...)

      All this by consulting regularly (morning, noon and evening :-)) this blog and with courage, will and perseverance you will put less than 5 years to get your black belt

      Keep us in touch.

  29. Hello
    59 years in 1 month, 1 year of practice of karate, Orange belt, a lot of work to do on the beast, because I am stiff like a chair, but little by little as life goes ... me too ... .m 'improves (stage at the King's Spurette -30 with William Graf 6 in).
    video on the internship:
    With the practice of karate I learned to be humble and to question myself every time during the training sessions "to speak is a necessity, to listen and an art".
    I thank you for your advice and for bringing us on this long journey of perfection ...... ..

    • Hello everyone

      about the subject: can we make a parallel with the world of football: it would perhaps be able to illuminate the neophytes (including me :))) on the different levels from the black belt

      for example starting from the 4eme division or the 5eme division (very good amateurs), 3eme division: semi-pro, going up to the 1ere division, then the players playing in the clubs champions league and finally the international players

      where is a black belt?

  30. Hello @ all,
    I am new to this blog that I just discovered.
    First of all thanks to Bruno for creating it.

    I have been wearing a brown belt for a long time. Successive wounds had for my energy and my will and I stopped for nearly 20 years. Today (aged 46 years) I decided to get back on the tatamis and considered the sacrosanct belt as a "result", a "goal" ... and I would like to say one day: "I'm here come ! "
    Although I always thought that this rank was the beginning of a new adventure, it remains only in the collective imagination, it is beautiful and synonymous with recognition.
    Let's be humble all the time, even the highest ranking ones have not finished their teaching, I think it's the story of a life, which can have long +/- interruptions.
    For my part, I live today my brown belt as a 4th place on a podium of 3 ... I am happy all the same!

  31. Hi all,

    I can not help but react to the many comments that I can read on this blog. I would like to take the path of karate in the near future, I know how the system of belts works, the report master / student since I chose to take the path of Judo when I was younger, however I am stopped very early, in the orange belt to be honest, because at the time I had to be ten years old and I did not have enough perspective to follow such a path. However I feel a lot of regrets about this, and this for several years (the fact is that I did not necessarily have time to devote myself to it), because I realize that Judo or Karate , or Kung Fu or any other martial art can bring me and not only on the physical plane, but also on a spiritual level. Today I would like to sincerely follow the path of karate (and why not even the path of Judo and Kung Fu), in order to find the balance that I'm looking for because for me the martial art, be it the Judo, karate, kung fu or something else, it's not just learning techniques or passing the grade, it's much more than that, it's a path you choose to take in order to reach a goal: the Nindo. Martial art is the path to this Nindo. Martial art is a guide in life.
    To return to what I said above, I would like to sincerely follow the path of karate but not only. My goal is to learn more and more. Certainly, Karate will always teach me more in my life, spiritually, but my goal is to seek knowledge in all martial arts.
    I would have liked to have your personal opinions to everyone in relation to my Nindo, and whoever they are I will respect them.
    Incidentally, I find this blog really good and people who are very pious! Your karate is good and strong and you all have my respect!

  32. Hello, Bruno thank you for your message; it's true you're absolutely right and I totally agree with you about everything you wrote in this article. Unfortunately, some people think or maybe believe for reasons that I do not know that the black belt is the final step or final diploma that can be achieved in Karate practice. It is for this reason that we see many people abandon the practice of karate after getting the black belt.

    I believe this block you have created is a great initiative to encourage those people who have dropped out of practice to return to the Dojo and continue to improve their performance.

    Thank you very much for this block.

  33. Once again excellent article! In France (and surely in many other Western countries), FFKDA Karate, the majority, is seen as a sport and the black belt as the culmination, the end of learning Karate. To say "I am a black belt of karate" in society (which is not necessary to be said, in general, except to shout by putting forward, or else it is necessary that the discussion has drifted on the martial arts but recognize that there are few non-practitioners who are interested in budos, who have only a caricature image); it is like saying "I'm in control of a combat art [...] I'm potentially very dangerous" (with this black belt story = considered by the law as a stab, I do not know what to think about it either). While black belt = respect of the graduates reached, beginning of the serious things, access to deeper training and more dangerous techniques, beginning of the way in some way.

    I still wonder something. If the way starts from 1000 days of practice (basically, the black belt, for someone dedicated) and is mastered from 10.000, as said I do not know which grandmaster, what about the standard difference between schools?

    Take the example in Frande of the JKA / FFKDA. A Shodan JKA seems to be acquired after many years of practice, at least more than 5 years of practice if I'm not mistaken. So, of course, we can always succeed in seeing our ranks surpassed, but the standards seem to be higher, close to what is done in Japan, and so the black belt, despite a program similar to that of the FFKDA, request a higher level (speed, precision, pure technique, Kime etc ...) to the latter.
    In France you can have your black belt in 3 years by training hard, see 2 by training very hard (and being talented, I think it's your case Bruno, beyond the physical condition in which you started karate). Does a newly acquired FFKDA black belt make it a human weapon (Human Weapon, a great series of martial arts reports); to sharpen certainly, but potentially fatal? Is JKA Karate effective? That of the FFKDA? I allow myself to ask these questions because I know that the vision of this blog (and its author therefore) goes beyond labels and official titles.

    When can you really consider yourself a black belt?

  34. Personally for me a grade passage is a questioning of his work.

    Let me explain: we all work in our respective dojo, with our partners, our teacher, etc ... and this induces some small habits.
    We work more with a so-and-so, than with a so-and-so, because his work is better for us, we are not used to the counting rhythm of our teacher, we just talk a little about this style of exercise, because we do not do not like too much, etc ...

    The fact of giving yourself a goal, like a passage of rank, forces us to put a boost in our work, requires us to go for sensations that we are not necessarily used to, to work with others partners, in short to get us out of our usual routine !!!!!

    To sum up to give yourself a goal of work, a personal challenge !!!

    So yes like any exam, whatever it is, it is sanctioned by a result, but more than having others validate their work, it is already in relation to oneself that we must base ourselves !!!

    We do not have it, and we have to get back to work and find the reasons for its failure, in order to improve and obtain it during its next visit.

    If we get it, well we are satisfied with the work done (without believing the best in the world lol) and get to work for the next review !!!!

  35. I believe (this has been my case) that one realizes by itself that the black belt is only one stage. Karate or any other martial arts is the path of a lifetime.
    The black belt is the door that opens your eyes to this path. Who can be satisfied with the techniques he performs? In my opinion not many people, we can all go beyond. The black belt is the moment that marks this departure. So let us all work to push these limits and make proud our sepal.

  36. Posted by Bruno Bandelier unlike what you think I do not race in. I'm only 2eme dan while I started in 1993.

    Hello Bruno,
    Contrary to what you think, I do not think you're racing in. Anyway, even if you do it, it's not a bad thing.
    The public identifies a teacher by his number of dan, necessarily a teacher 7ème dan, will be in the eyes of the layman, better than a teacher 4ème dan. Moreover, a teacher without a pupil can not teach, whereas pupils without teachers can always play ... And to spread a discipline, it takes pupils, it is necessary to form black belts so that they in turn can provide the teaching discipline ...
    What does one do when one is teaching 1er dan, and one has formed "1ers dan"? Even if the knowledge goes beyond the first dan, we will always be able to train them, only in the eyes of the profane, a teacher 1er dan who teaches 2ème or 3ème dan, it is often badly accepted ...

    The goal is to develop and make known the discipline, the passage of the ranks is practically a necessity ...

    I never said it was wrong ... only that it's the system that wants that ...

    mukashi (a long time ago), it was settled in yaburi dojo or in the field ... now, to develop an activity, one must be part of the system.

    If almost all martial arts give ranks, it is because there is something behind (the story of the carrot and the donkey). And those who do not give rank, remain confidential or particular disciplines ...

    The FFKDA has 250000 licensed and the FFJDA almost 500000 or 600000 ... how many would there be if there were only Menkyo? Would there be so many children to practice? Are the disciplines as well known and recognized?

    Frankly I doubt it ...

    Grades are not a bad thing, and the race for grades does not depend on the context in which you place yourself ...

    So the black belt accessible to everyone? It depends what it represents and context too ...


    • Bruno Bandelier at

      Hello Jack,

      I agree with you on most points
      It's true that the rank and dan system is very different from the Menkyo system, but in the end, I find it more democratic.
      In addition, even in our clubs (not all ...) if the teacher judges that a student does not have the proper behavior and that he does not deserve to present himself to a Dan, nothing obliges him to accept that He introduces himself.
      In the Menkyo system, it is the Master who filters the students and decides which ones he initiated at the higher level. Even though the trust between the Master and the student is important, I find that in this system, nothing prevents the Master from having an arbitrary and undemocratic judgment.
      The current rank and dan system has the advantage of giving everyone a chance, I find it pretty good.


  37. Hi Bruno,

    If I can afford a question: What does the black belt represent for you?
    If it's a simple exam, like the baccalaureate ... then yes, anyone who can afford it can have it. If it is the federal black belt, which sanctions more fidelity in number of years of practice and not a real martial level ... then yes everyone can have ... If it is a martial level as conceived by koryu teachers, so no ... everyone can not have it. And originally there were no black belts in karate. Only practitioners and some were given a diploma of school representative (a kaiden) with permission to teach. Take a look at the story ... what rank did Matsumura have? Itosu?
    Come on, what is the grade of Funakoshi Gichin? Did he have a shodan?

    according to shodan kanji: 初段
    It means "beginner level"
    So ... um ... everyone can be a beginner ^^
    But it is a beginner in the sense of having the physical and technical bases ...

    More about grade systems in Japan:

    Personally this grade system is symptomatic of our consumer society ... We pay, so we want a return on investment. This return on investment results in an evaluation but also a choli diploma (plome!).

    It is also a way to retain the customer, after the color belts, it is the race for the dan, encouraged by a lucrative and financial system that needs the money of the members to live. After the first dan, it is necessary to contribute again 2 years to be nidan, then 3 years to be sandan, etc ...

    And this system really shows its financial impact, because to survive, grow and make more money, it was adopted by all schools that did not give rank ... now we have the glove green, yellow, red, etc. in French boxing, kickboxing, etc., the dang in vo co truyen, the duan in kung fu ... Whereas at the beginning it is the report teacher / student who determined everything, the level, the permission to teach , permission to fight, etc.

    How many of you have given a white belt and passed a real exam in front of a master who does not know your level and you attributing it according to your performance via his expertise filter? It puts things in their place ...

    Personally more than the federal rank, I find that the grade of kyokushin, more real, one gives the rank for physical and martial skills and not to reward years of practice ... but to reward a value. If Sosai Masutatsu Oyama was still in this world and was changing his ranks to the old, how many federal black belts would have their shodan?

    As a result, the shodan in terms of physical and martial value, is unfortunately not accessible to everyone.

    And to take back what has already been said elsewhere ... belts "strap" black decathlon it costs 3euros50 ... short, accessible to everyone ... And in this case everyone can be black belt ...
    Have the physical and technical bases to defend yourself ... even after 10, 20, 30 years of practice, many people are unable ... So in this case, no ... it is not possible for everyone to be black belt ...


    • Hello Jack,

      Thank you for your comment very informative and very argued.
      It is sure that according to the value that one gives to the black belt, there is a difference.
      I know that a belt can buy in stores and contrary to what you think I do not race in. I'm only 2ème dan while I started in 1993.
      In fact what I'm trying to do here is to demystify the black belt because in the public mind or even a lot of color belt it seems to be an inaccessible stage even superhuman when it represents only one basic level and probably even more so now than in time.
      If after 30 years of practice we can not be a black belt, either the training is not good or the will is not where the exam is too high for a beginner level .


  38. Hello to you Bruno and all of you,
    The simple name gives its level: Shodan literally means beginner's Dan ...
    The black belt, can be an unfounded gloriole if one has the head a little big, or on the contrary, a taking of responsibility and a commitment to persevere in the deepening of the way which one chose. The day I got my first dan, I felt that a door was opening and that I was going into the "big class" like a little one and that it would be up to me to extract the best of what I can find inside me, to really deserve this belt.

    • Hello Renaud,
      I love what you just wrote. That's quite the feeling I had when having my black belt, I felt very small and began to realize the extent of the work that there was to reach into higher ones. And I did not feel particularly proud (I was of course, but not in the sense of arrogant), but rather indebted to my teacher and all those who had helped me. And the only way I had to thank them was to fully deserve this belt and continue the path he had given me.

  39. Hi Bruno,

    I just read your article and comments
    I really appreciate this exchange on your blog
    I am impressed by so much kindness "it is the KARATE" I think 🙂

    I hope to get my black belt too


  40. Hello Bruno,
    Before I got my Black belt my master said: black belts there are many, but I need good black belt. And when I had succeeded in my Black Belt, the President of the Federation reminded us that now was the beginning of our karate.
    Today 2é DAN, I prepare three brown belts for the 1é DAN, the master being absent. And I keep reminding them that it is the practitioner who makes his black belt and not the belt that makes the practitioner, a lower belt can be more effective than a black, because generally after the black people tend to rest on their laurels. While it is at this stage that you have to redouble your efforts through personal training. Above all be regular at Dojo, pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, be open to criticism of others about your work, question your methods, look at how others work, be humble (we can even ask a lower belt how he gets to to do so easily a kihon or a technique.) The black belt is the beginning of karate.

  41. Hi Bruno and thank you for this article which must concern more than one here. For me, who started karate at 48 years and who is currently preparing my 3ème kyu after 4 years of good and loyal efforts, the black belt will represent the end of an apprenticeship with all the difficulties involved and the beginning of the actual work. where I could think a little less about my positions, my hip (how to speak, say that it will not be my main priorities even if it will always be important), to devote myself much more to the study and development of each kata. So as you say, not the end, rather the beginning

    In my dojo, the 1er dan have a fairly high level and see them working alone or with us is rather motivating and rewarding but it is true that at each stage I saw other black belts of other clubs evolve to perhaps lower level of my modest point of view ...

    Long life to this blog !

  42. Hello Mr. Bruno.Before all, I thank you for your indefatigable courage and your time given to the perfecting of karatekas in particular and karate in general. I am very pleased with the clarifications you brought on this subject. According to your article I understood that to work to have the black belt in karate is to work to have the essential base of karate and not the top. Thank God bless this blog!

  43. Hello

    it's very interesting what you say about the passage of shodan and precisely I will spend my black belt 26 May, and to be honest I never thought the pass this year, I explain I started the karate in 1994 and practice during 3 years at that time I was 14 years and betement I stopped for various reasons and in September 2011 I decided because at that time I stopped at the chestnut and 15 years later I decided to resume with great motivation to my registration I ask my master to take back the white and surprise me said you will resume where you stopped you is the brown, I asked myself questions because I had forgotten the kata even basic and yet a work force never being absent at any course I could hang on and the master offered to introduce me at the passage of grade I did not expect so much and I am determined, I do not know if i will get it but i would do my best, i would have liked i could help you in my preparation for the bunkai, the kata I chose and godan, i hesitated between this one and nidan, i do not really have a preference for one but had to make a choice, a loophole that I also have this kiai, I do not have my own scream and I know that for the passage of grade is important and we do not talk much, voila otherwise your site is really nice and we feel a lot of kindness of your on the other hand, impossible to find videos about shodan grade

    • Hello BRAHIM,
      If I may, I would like to answer the questions you asked Bruno. For the bunkai you can INSPIRE bunkai who are on the net or others but it is important not to copy them because if I am comfortable in this application it is not certain that you are. that it is realistic, It is useless to chain the movements, it is necessary to make 2 or 3 movements with a finality each time. For the Kiai it's not a shout it's a sound that comes from the belly "Hara" it's like when you want to push or raise something you have more energy while exhaling. Practice with different people (size, fast or not) because the day you do not choose your partner. some proverbs that I appreciate:
      "It is not the purpose of the walk that is important but the small steps that lead to it". "Joy is in everything, you have to know how to extract it (Confucius)". "Do not be afraid to move slowly, only fear to stop you." Good training.

      • Hello

        and I am happy since yesterday because I have good news to announce I got my black belt yesterday the 26 May in traditional way, but I can tell you that I really work a lot and those until the last days some would say not to train the day before an exam but I was so much advisor by students in my club and especially my teacher who came to visit me at the dojo outside the class to give me some particular lessons, a little stress the day of the test but I think that as many of the candidates we were all at the same sign, what touches me is that my teacher had come to visit me during my passage, for those who wish to know how a traditional shodan test takes place, I would be there to answer them. the first satisfaction that I feel and especially towards my teacher and I am proud to bring a satisfaction towards all the efforts carried out, for me it is not to tell me to be girded ure black but rather have more confidence in me, because after 15 years of arrest and resumed in only 1 year I managed to get there, now I will continue to train always more and I do not forget a friend I will l help him also in his planned passage the 10 June for his 2 dan.

      • Hello Hocini,

        I congratulate you on your Shodan. It really is the result of your efforts especially after only 1 year of recovery. You had to train a lot to get there.
        It's good here you are at the beginning of the research. You will be able to please you even more by following the path that you have before you.
        Good road.


  44. Hello Bruno, I am very happy to receive this email because it is very interesting and constructive. For my part I got the black belt after several years of practice (ten years) because work, and some family problems require it. Of all the ways, when I got the black belt, for me it was not really such a feat because maybe it came too late. However, all that you say in your article is true. I will add, that here in Morocco, unfortunately, karatekas black belts do not continue the practice of KAraté or at least very little, because usually very few black belts remain in the dojo, to my knowledge, because I still practice Karate and in my club there is only the instructor or the owner of the club and myself having a black belt. In short, I do not want to be too long but I congratulate you for your blog and see you soon.

    • Hi Hassan,
      You know, with us it's the same way that karate is stopped at the black belt and that's a shame. They think they're coming when it's just the beginning. In the same way that, even though we have all learned to write, we do not become all dramatic author.
      There is also the influence of people outside Karate. Just tell someone that you are a black belt of karate to pass for a superman, that's for sure it must be a bit of a headache for some
      But fortunately, we stay and practice in our dojos that smell good sweat.

      • Some stop as BTS stop classes

        I remember an Auvergnat, a kung fu who told me "still 2 years," I say why?
        He looked at me and exclaimed "Well, it's 3 years old ..."
        I answer him "it's short"
        He told me "well when we know the boxing auvergnate, already enough .."

        It is true that if we learn we could consider that having learned we can practice on his own ... Training at home and with friends in a garage, like Okinawa ...

  45. For me everyone is not "able to pass a shodan, because everyone does not want it first and then because everyone will not bother! The only selection is there (as in all things else!).

    To read the comments, the shodan does not necessarily have a "good image": it happens sometimes that the carriers of dan are of a relatively mediocre level so that the nons can be said that being shadan c is null !! this is undoubtedly due to the "massification" of education. However, as bruno says, the 1Er dan is the fundamental step that allows you to enter "the circle of those who can learn".

    martial teaching is done on two levels (pyramidal, between master and students but also horizontal, pupil to pupil). When one looks at the list of 1er dan of the federation, one is astonished by their number. However, go see the number of 6 eme in and you will see what I mean ... Count the number of 8 eme dan and the answer will be crystal clear!

    To be one day 8 eme dan, it is imperative to have spent his 1er dan ... otherwise we stay "outside" of karate!

    • Hello Mat,
      We always say, when we want, we can, but as you say, the opposite is true too: If we do not want, we can not.
      Maybe we could get our ears or put us on the corner like when we did not want to learn how to write

  46. Frankly, when I see the level of brown belts that prepare their black belts. I tell myself that the level of a black belt is not terrible.
    We spend a lot of time learning by heart his kata. But we do not understand the meaning.
    I especially think that getting a black belt makes you arrogant. I have done this many times.
    During a karate internship, I found black belts refusing to train with colored belts on the pretext that they wanted someone from their levels.
    And in karate class, when I allow myself to make a remark to someone who makes a mistake in his technique or in the execution of a kata. They refuse to believe me on the pretext that I have a lower rank.
    So frankly a black belt is worth nothing at all. For me it is by the quality of his fight that I judge of a good karate. And not a belt.

    • Hello Fabrice,

      What you report on black belts that refuse to train with you is inadmissible. But believe me it is not because they have a black belt, but rather because they are stupid and they were probably long before (oops, I said a big word, sorry)
      You're right, it's not the belt that is the value of a karate, but you're wrong because it is not the quality of his fight that can be judged. Some karateka will never be very good fighters, yet they embody all the virtues of karateka ...
      In any case, the black belt is only a basic level, but I can not let you say it's worthless, it's a lot of work.
      After some are not worthy to wear it, no doubt, but this is only a minority and fortunately.

  47. Another question then arises: Is it really essential to obtain a "black belt" after a certain number of years of practice? Is the recognition of others worth more than his own recognition?

    • The belt is a pedagogical tool that facilitates the transmission of knowledge and exchanges in the dojo.

      From a learning perspective, for the group, it reflects the practitioner's evolutions.

      Accepting one's belt could be a way of taking responsibility for other members of the dojo group.

    • Hello Khan,
      I will try to answer your questions:
      -> Is it really essential to get a "black belt" after a certain number of years of practice?
      The number of years is not essential, but staying brown for 10 or 20 is like running an 110 hedge and not crossing the last hurdle. In the end, you enjoy yourself doing karate but you end up stagnating not wanting to cross this stage. Who later will boost you and encourage you to learn higher kata who will raise you a little more.

      -> Is the recognition of others worth more than his own recognition?
      Who told you about recognizing others? When I say that you can all have a black belt with hard work and perseverance, it's for you to complete your karate learning. As I said before, many stop at the brown under the pretext that he does not especially want to get the black, that finally it is useless. But they lie to themselves. Grading examiners do not care whether you come or not to pass your 1er dan, you do not do it for them, but for yourself.
      By not making the effort to go past his Shodan, the karateka is like the pupil who refuses to learn the last letters of the alphabet, on the pretext that it does not serve much.


      • What I see is that people are looking for tricks to get the test and in the end it's like the driving license: do people learn to drive or pass the driver's license?

        You have to give yourself time to know the subject, the lexicon, do the movements well, see other practices, and in the club the 1er belts dan do the same course as others.It is not a Masonic degree ...

        After 10 years, stop for health reasons and to discover other practices, (bf, taekwondo, hapkido, ..) I handed over the white belt and ironed all the grades (I have my small series of kihon, pumps and abdo, not to forget, 2h every week since 30 years).
        I took the opportunity to see all the lexicon, kata until tekki, I intend to see all the bunkais, but before I listed and put on my website, the shotokan and okinawaienne versions, to see what can explain the best.

        There are people who have developed practices from the shotokan that looks like okinawa karate or that of G.Funakoshi before 1935: MawashiDo and No-Dan ...
        Nodan talks about the power that comes from structure and not muscle strength. ?
        Then comes the most important that does not depend on the appreciation of others: adapt the practice to its morphology, its age, its strengths, its weaknesses do not do what dictates to you someone who is not in your body when that hurts you ... (No pain no gain a sciatic ...). We buy nothing with pain, it is the sign of the error. I think we are confusing effort and pain, both of them being unpleasant.

      • Disagree with your example of the last letter of the alphabet, some brown belts that refuse to go black on principle have skills and luggage that surpass (and not a little bit) number of black.

        • Hello Hermit,
          Yes, you're probably right, do not generalize, but a lot of brown belt will not go black because there is a part of the art they do not want to learn (it can be the kata, or the bunkais, ...). They tend to be content with their brown belt and that's fine, but I still think they lie to themselves.
          It is certain that with years of practice, they will be much better (and thankfully) in some areas than a 1er dan young promoted, but it is not that important. I'm not trying to find out which one is the longest or the one who pisses the furthest but just to explain that by not passing his 1er dan, then the following ones, we do not take responsibility for the Sempai. For me we miss some of the martial art that is Karate.
          But that's only my personal opinion.

    • Thank you for your very complete answer but it is not that thing that I pointed out.
      I wanted to emphasize that, in learning, should the belt be driving?
      Will the will and the pleasure of practice not enough to make the student more eager to learn more?

      Without being abusive, I find the belt principle a little like the carrot that moves the donkey ... And it's a shame.

      It's a feeling, I'm wrong, but I think the "debate" "important"

      • I am more of your opinion, you have to practice from within and rely on your mastery of a program. If we like what we do we do not expect results and in my opinion, we are more perfect because we are not limited to what is acceptable at one time and is not at another.
        By cons, I see this as the end of a period of learning specific techniques, it's a bit like crosses on the calendar .... and then frankly white on white it's ugly (before 70, there were white, brown and black).

    • Hello Khan,
      You're probably right and in a perfect world we should not need carrots to move on and the fun should be enough. But it is not the belt as a piece of tissue that matters. The essential is not there. The important thing in grade passages is not to compare oneself to others, but to measure one's own progress.
      Practicing only for pleasure without ever knowing where one is is tending to relegate karate to a leisure sport when it is more.
      But I think that some people can actually become very good karateka without ever passing a single grade. But, well, why walk on the edge of the community? Together, it's better no?

      • Hello,
        I practice Karate since 3 years, in my mind it is not conceivable to pass the color belts without having acquired a Max practice. I will spend my brown to access the black, and finally I will really start my martial art. Those many forget that you are a simple beginner by accessing the 1er Dan! See you soon Agnès

  48. To follow your very interesting article on the black belt, and reminding me strangely the first goal that I had set 16 years ago today! I am currently preparing my 3ème dan shotokan karate and yet I have the impression to start in the martial art (I 23 years).
    So yes indeed, having a black belt around the waist should not be an end in itself but an encouragement to go further and take the true path (do) of karate (precision of the gesture, efficiency, adaptation ...). In fact as the article specifies very well this is only the beginning to perfect the acquired bases!

    Good luck

    Kindly Budo

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