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I've been studying Taekwondo for about two months, and I took the first test that my school offered after I joined (two weeks ago), and received my yellow-stripe. It looks like the school holds tests every two or three months. I'm wondering how long it should take to advance through the ranks.

I'm in no rush to get through the belts, I just want to make sure that I'm not pushing too hard and that the school isn't taking it easy on me by allowing me to test before I'm ready.

I attend about 2-3 times per week. At that rate, how much time should it take me to get my yellow belt? If I keep working about that hard, how long should it take to get a black belt?

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Its going to depend on how many belts are in your system. If its the standard 8 gups, do the math. How many belts are there in your system? – coltonon Oct 6 '14 at 23:56
up vote 10 down vote accepted

In short, grading every 3 months as a lower Gup is fairly normal. You will begin to be able to tell if you're in a "belt factory" if you look to the higher Gups and Black Belts and wonder how on Earth they have X Belt.

I'm an instructor for an ITF-based Taekwon-do school and the approach that our umbrella organisation follows is to have gradings four times a year (so every three months). For the Gups, especially the lower Gups, your gradings will come thick and fast over the first two years or so. With adults, we generally double promote to 8th Gup at the first grading if their focus and basic skills are there. Once you start getting to Blue and Red Belts (4th Gup and up) your gradings will very likely slow to every 6 months or more.

But as @slugster mentioned, your pace is based on your wishes, your abilities and your instructors confidence in your collection of the skills (and training 2-3 times a week consistently will definitely help). Once you get to Black Belt, the gradings are much further apart. Our organisation prescribes 3 years between 1st and 2nd Dan, for example.

As an instructor, we look for students who are confident at their current level, but are by no means perfect. You won't even come close to "perfecting" the 9th Gup pattern until you are a Red Belt at least. I'm two weeks out from my 2nd Dan grading and I wouldn't claim anything close to "perfection" on Chon-Ji!

One of the greatest things about Martial Arts IMHO is that it's a team effort to advance your individual skills. Unlike a team sport, if you "suck" you're only holding yourself back and not the team. But as it's based on you as an individual, so is your progress. So even if you cannot kick at head height or jump you can still improve your skill-set and still advance in the art.

The most important thing about any Martial Art is to find an instructor that you trust and helps you achieve YOUR goals rather than their own (such as pushing you into competition if your focus is self defense). Find a good instructor and maintain your own focus and you will go far.

Best of luck!


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Most styles of any art will have a prescribed syllabus which lays out what you need to know and/or achieve for each ranking, and they will also usually contain a suggested time period to be spent at each rank level.

Note the word suggested - an instructor has the right to advance students or invite them to attend gradings as he sees fit. It is quite common for some students to skip through the lower ranks if they learn fast or have previous experience. Some instructors may also allow you to double-grade at lower ranks, i.e. you skip the yellow tip and go straight to yellow belt.

In summary, it's at the instructor's discretion. Provided that they apply the rules evenly and fairly then there is no problem when some students get advanced faster than others.

If I keep working about that hard, how long should it take to get a black belt?

We can't answer that. But you should remember that a black belt is just another rank, you still have plenty of learning to do after that. By all means treat it as a target, but don't treat it as the end of the journey.

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The best thing to do is relax and enjoy your journey, don't time yourself, trust your instructor be a good student and learn your stuff and the rest will follow

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It took me four years to get my black belt. But that was with summer camps (9 hours a day, four days a week, four weeks). At a normal pace, with 2-3 months between each test, you can expect anywhere from four to five years. I think that's not enough. My school grants people their black belt too early. Granted I was at a very accelerated rate, but I prefer 6 years for black belt. That's just my opinion though.

As for your yellow belt, the ranking system isn't very universal, so its kinda just going to be up to you to do that math.

Black belt shouldn't be a finish line, but the beginning of your taekwondo career. I've seen too many people drop out once they hit black belt. For me, it was that I have a new responsibility. I teach 8 hours a week at my gym, and I don't get paid a dime. I'm just fine with that.

Black belt is also the beginning of something new. Its like your in a club, a group of elite. It means tournaments are going to get a lot harder. It means your going to get your butt kicked training. My favorite part, is that it means I get to train with the best of the best.

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The Kukkiwon has no specified delay between coloured belt (kup) gradings. That said, I would say that a minimum of 20 sessions and being of the required standard (so not just attendance) is fairly normal.

Indeed it's normal in Korea for children to get their 1st Poom (junior black belt) in a year, when they train 5 times per week. So if you are training 2 times per week, then that's grading every 3 months. For 10 kup ranks, allowing for occasionally not being ready or a longer gap from 1st Kup to 1st Dan, that means 1st Dan/Poom in about 2.5-3 years.

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3 months for every belt below Blue/Red and 6 months per Gup from Blue/Red tip on up to Red/Black tip. I can't recall if I waited 6 months or 1 year for 1st dan grading, but at any rate, in the organisation I was affiliated to, i.e. the TAGB, you'll wait two years for 2nd Dan, 3 for 3rd, 4 for 4th and 5 for 5th. After that, it becomes more discretionary and 9th and 10th Dans are more Honorary in nature, or to put it differently: a 9th or 10th Dan is like an Honorary doctorate for your contribution to the art and doesn't require you to sweat in front of a panel of graders.

And now you know more than you asked for.

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In the TAGB (Taekwondo Association of Great Britain) there is a certain timing that needs to be between gradings, 3 months minimum from white up to blue belt, 6 months from blue to black tag then a year between black tag and black belt. After that it goes 2 years between 1st and 2nd dan, 3 between 2nd and 3rd, 4 between 3rd and 4th and 5 between 4th and 5th. After that it's at discretion of the Chairman of the TAGB (Grand Master David Oliver) to give you your next grade after an application has been sent to them. Hope this helped :)

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