How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt In Karate?

karate kick to the face

To earn a black belt in Karate, you need to be dedicated to putting the time in to earn this rank. But how long does it take to get a black belt in Karate?

It’s a commonly asked question that we’re going to answer for you now. Read below as we explain how long it takes to get a black belt in Karate.

We’ll go through everything that goes into earning a Karate black belt and what you learn at each rank.

How long does it take to get a black belt in Karate? On average it takes around 5 years to earn a black belt in Karate. You go through 8 belt ranks and learn various techniques and katas to earn a Karate black belt.

How many Karate belts do you go through? 

In order to earn your black belt in Karate, you must graduate through 8 lower belts. Those lower belts include:

  • White Belt
  • Yellow Belt
  • Orange Belt
  • Green Belt
  • Blue Belt 
  • Purple Belt
  • Brown Belt
  • Red Belt

These lower ranks in Karate are referred to as Kyu(lower) ranks. You start as a mudansha(new student) and work your way up through each rank. Learning new skills and katas through your journey.

How long is the duration at each Karate belt?

In Karate, you get promoted every three months within the lower belts. Then as you get to the higher belts, the time it takes to get promoted doubles and triples.

To get a Karate black belt in 5 years, the time frame at each belt will look a lot like this:

  • Yellow Belt: 3 Months
  • Orange Belt: 3 Months
  • Green Belt: 6 Months
  • Blue Belt: 6 Months
  • Purple Belt: 9 Months
  • Brown Belt: 9 Months
  • Red Belt: 12
  • Black Belt: 12

Total: 5 Years

Karate Techniques

In order to earn your Karate black belt, you must know how to execute a wide variety of techniques. Various punches, kicks, and combos of all of them put together. Here is a list of nearly all of the techniques that you must know.

Karate Kicks

There are over 30 kicks you must know how to perform in order to earn your Karate black belt. Here is a list of some of these kicking techniques.

  • Foot Sweep: Ashai Barai
  • Stomp: Fumikomi
  • Low Roundhouse Kick: Gedan Mawashi Geri
  • Knee Strike: Hiza Geri
  • Axe Kick: Kakato Otoshi Geri
  • Joint Kick: Kansetu Geri
  • Groin Kick: Kin Geri
  • Front Kick: Mae Geri
  • Front Snap Kick: Mae Geri Keage
  • Front Thrust Kick: Mae Geri Kekomi
  • Jumping Front Kick: Mae Tobi Geri
  • Roundhouse: Mawashi Geri
  • Crescent Kick: Mikazuki Geri
  • Inside Crescent Kick: Uchi Mikazuki Geri
  • Jumping Double Front Kick: Nidan Geri
  • Downward Roundhouse Kick(Question Mark Kick): Otoshi Mawashi Geri
  • Tornado Kick: Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku
  • Jumping Kick: Tobi Geri
  • Jumping Knee Strike: Tobi Hiza Geri
  • Jumping Roundhouse: Tobi Mawashi Geri
  • Jumping Side Kick: Tobi Yoku Geri
  • Toe Kick: Tsumaski Geri
  • Twist Kick: Uchi Haisoku Geri
  • Hook Kick: Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Spinning Reverse Roundhouse/Wheel Kick: Ura Ushiro Mawashi Geri
  • Back Kick: Ushiro Geri
  • Back Snap Kick: Ushiro Geri Keage
  • Back Thrust Kick: Ushiro Geri Kekomi
  • Side Snap Kick: Yoko Geri Keage
  • Side Thrust Kick: Yoko Geri Kekomi
  • Flying Side Kick: Yoko Tobi Geri

Karate Hand Strikes

Karate is thought of as a kicking dominant martial art, but actually over 70% punches are thrown in competitions. Here is a list of some of the hand strikes practiced within Karate.

  • Straight: Choku-Zuki
  • Lunge Punch: Oi-Zuki
  • Reverse Punch: Gyaku-Zuki
  • Jab: Kisami-Zuki
  • Inverted Punch: Ura-Zuki
  • Rising Punch: Age-Zuki
  • Hook: Kage-Zuki 
  • Roundhouse Punch: Mawashi-Zuki
  • Vertical Punch: Tate-Zuki
  • Blocking Punch: Uke-Zuki
  • Double-Hand Punch: Morote-Zuki
  • Mountain Punch: Yama-Zuki
  • Bow-Punch: Yumi-Zuki
  • U-Punch: Awase-Zuki
  • Parallel Punch: Heiko-Zuki
  • One-Knuckle Fist: Ippon-Ken
  • Middle Knuckle Punch: Nakada-Ippon-Ken
  • Flat Fist: Hira-Ken
  • One-Finger-Spear-Hand: Ippon-Nukite
  • Two-Finger-Spear-Hand: Nihon-Nukite
  • Vertical Spear-Hand: Shihon-Nukite
  • Flat-Spear-Hand: Hira-Nukite

Karate Stances

Not all forms of Karate do the same stances, but most do practice the stances listed below.

  • Front Stance: Zenkutsu Dachi
  • Back Stance: Kokutsu Dachi
  • Horse Stance: Kiba Dachi
  • Parallel Stance: Heiko Dachi
  • Ready Stance: Hachinoji Dachi
  • Muwatte: The turning motion using your feet to change stances

Karate Katas

Within each style of Karate, there are Katas you must learn in order to earn a black belt. Here are some examples of Katas for Shotokan Karate.

Yellow Belt

Taikyoku Shodan

Taikyoku Nidan

Taikyoku Sandan

Heian Shodan

Orange Belt

Heian Nidan

Green Belt

Heinan Sadan

Blue Belt 

Heinan Yondan

Purple Belt

Heinan Godan

Brown Belt

Tekki Shodan


Red Belt



Black Belt




The Karate Black Belt Test

The testing for a Karate Black belt is a hard test both physically and mentally. It is an all day affair where you go through numerous phases of the test. If you succeed, you end the day by being awarded your black belt in Karate. Here is an example of a black belt test detailed below.

Strength & Conditioning

A Karate black belt test usually starts off with a series of strength and conditioning exercises in the early morning. Started off with a run and then followed by a series of calisthenic exercises, where you do hundreds of reps.


Once you complete the strength and conditioning aspect of the test, students move on to the kata portion of the test. You have to perform whichever Katas the instructor had listed for you to know and practice.


The last portion of the test is the kumite or sparring test. You are forced to spar in numerous rounds starting off with one opponent and then multiple towards the end.

Black Belt Ceremony

After completing these three stages, a ceremony is held and you are awarded your black belt. Your journey through the colored belts in Karate is now complete.

How to earn a black belt in 5 years?

To earn a Karate black belt within 5 years takes discipline and commitment. Here are the steps you need to take in order to earn a Karate black belt in 5 years or less.

Train Consistently

Of course, the most important thing you must do to earn a black belt in 5 years is to train consistently. To even be up for a belt test, you must attend a certain amount of classes in most Karate schools. 

To earn Karate belts on time or quicker, you must attend an average of 3-5 classes per week. Three for a normal average and five if you are really committed to getting your black belt.

If you train consistently and keep your weekly class attendance around this range, you’ll be a black belt in no time.

Strength & Conditioning 

Not only is your training with class important, but also what you do to improve your skills outside of class. Strength and conditioning is something that the most dedicated Karate students take part in.

Anything from running, calisthenics, weightlifting, or circuit training to improve your performance in Karate class.


Being knowledgeable about the techniques are just as important as performing them. Taking the time to really understand the techniques and movements are what separates average students from exceptional students. 

Practicing the habit of studying techniques will no doubt keep you on track to earn your Karate black belt.

Are you serious about wanting to earn a Karate black belt?

So as you can see it takes around 5 years to earn a Karate black belt from a legitimate school. To earn your Karate black belt within this time, you will need to be a dedicated student to the martial art

Remember to stay focused and train hard if you want to earn the right to be called a Karate black belt.


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Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years. Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.


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