How Long Should It Take To Get A Black Belt?
by Stuart Anslow
Anyway, let's equate this to the students and schools of right now. The average student isn't a physically fit soldier, who can commit to 6 days a week. Some can often only commit to a single day per week and thus by General Choi's own calculations, such a student should take even longer to gain a black belt as the students consistency and regularity of training is a lot lower than others!
So let's use 3 school models to work out what it's like for the average student of today. Now, there will always be exceptional students, some who train very hard , much more often than the average and also some schools can offer many classes per week. But on balance, let's say, despite the amount of classes offered, our 'average' student can only make 2 or 3 of them (for some only 1 class per week). We`ll also add the following class times to the equation; 1 hour classes, 1.5 hour classes and 2 hour classes.
We need a baseline for comparison, so let's take the closest of General Choi's example to that of the 'average' students training today; the 30 month course, which required 1.5 hours training per day for at least 3 days per week. Now using that, lets equate it to the 'average' class, that only runs twice weekly (by adding the hours of 1/3 of 585 to make up for the missing class) and we get 780 hours (leaving the class time as 1.5 hours, which is the average between a 1 hour class and a 2 hour class). So now we have our baseline, that it takes 780 hours of training to achieve a black belt, using the 'basic' system of patterns, sparring and destruction only (without anything extra involved) and we get the following chart (below):
Each sum was worked out as follows: 780 hours required as total training time for black belt / 52 (weeks in a year) / by number of days trained per week / by time per session (hours per day).
So you will see from the chart, for the average student, training twice weekly for 1.5 hours, it should take a minimum of 5 years to gain the coveted black belt. If you train for less days per week or if your classes are shorter, it can take a lot longer (15 years if only training once a week for an hour session!) and consequently, you can do it a little quicker if you train more often or for longer periods each time.
Technically, based on the assumptions earlier, the more spaced out your training times are between sessions, the longer it will take, so in theory, these times should be even longer perhaps! And, they are also based on the earlier assumptions that the training taking place is based on a fit, adult, male, so if unfit or a child, longer times will also be the case (I don't see a distinction between male and female student btw). On the plus side, it only takes into account actual classes and not any personal training you may do.
Alternatively, we can use the same formula General Choi used for the 30 month course. Originally it was 30 months, 3 days per week, at 1.5 hours a session (totalling 585 hours). So if we drop that to 2 days per week (1/3 off the number of days), we should also raise the length of training by 1/3 to compensate, so it works out as 40 months, 2 days per week, at 1.5 hours per session (Totalling 520 hours). By doing it this way we get the following chart (right):
Finally, we can just keep it all the same and use the formula for the 30 month course, but have 2 training sessions per week instead of 3, keeping the length and number of hours the same and we get the following chart (below):
It also doesn't account for anything more than the basic patterns, sparring and destruction (with perhaps hosinsul at higher kup levels). Finally it doesn't account for any student taking time off at all, including for holidays/vacations, sickness, injuries or holiday periods such as Christmas (many schools shut for a period over Christmas), failing a grading or missing a grading (or more) out. Finally, there is also the the question of whether the times in General Choi's manual had any 'science' behind the calculations or were just General Choi's estimated times he considered appropriate!
The bottom line is, don't rush to get your black belt too early and train as often as you can. The 'journey' is a very important part of getting a black belt and should not be underestimated. Apart from actually applying yourself (physically) in every class, consistency and regularity of training are very important factors. It is better to take your time and be a good black belt, then rush to this coveted grade and be a poor black belt.
Most of all remember - Black Belt is not the end, it's just the end of the beginning!