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A black belt in Taekwondo - how long does it take?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

I, like many people no doubt, wondered how long it would take me to achieve a black belt. I was (hopefully) savvy enough not to ask directly, or at least understood fairly early in my training that a specific time was unimportant. As long as you are committed to training, the rank, grades, belts would all come in their own time.

Now as a person who owns, runs, and operates a medium size business, time is of the essence in what I do every day. Everything we do in our day-to-day lives revolves a daily, weekly, monthly schedule.

Is the time to black belt important? Absolutely not but time is built in to what we do, our thinking, our society. Any SMART goals we set include the T for Timebound, a hugely important part of achieving our goals. I would therefore forgive anyone new to the martial arts for being inquisitive as such. Although I do understand it is important to develop the thinking away from a specific timeframe between belts.

It has been a very valuable experience for me just allowing training to happen and trying to separate my thought process from giving myself a specific time to achieve a black belt. My approach to this was simple and I reframed this as something I broadly wanted to achieve before I turned 40. As this is still a few years away, this took away any self-made pressure from the process.

BUT, let’s ask the million-dollar question anyway. How long will it take me to get my black belt? The answer from the International Taekwondo Association is as follows (Taken from

  • 10th Gup White Belt: 2 Months (36 Hours)

  • 9th Gup White Belt With Yellow Stripe: 2 Months (36 Hours)

  • 8th Gup Yellow Belt: 2 Months (36 Hours)

  • 7th Gup Yellow Belt With Green Stripe: 2 Months (36 Hours)

  • 6th Gup Green Belt: 2 Months (36 Hours)

  • 5th Gup Green Belt With Blue Stripe: 3 Months (54 Hours)

  • 4th Gup Blue Belt: 6 Months (108 Hours)

  • 3rd Gup Blue Belt With Red Stripe: 6 Months (108 Hours)

  • 2nd Gup Red Belt: 6 Months (108 Hours)

  • 1st Gup Red Belt With Black Stripe: 9 Months (162 Hours)

  • 1st Dan (Il Dan) Black Belt: 2 Years

With some rough calculations this is around 3 years, 8 months. At Ilyokwan, where I train, the minimum time to black belt would be around 4 years.

All Taekwondo schools will have a similar table or at least a variation as

guidance for their students. Everyone learns at a different pace but having a

general timeframe, and through a goal setting approach, should be able to

help motivation and gauge development.

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