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What Does Earning a Black Belt Mean?

This is a thought-provoking question posed to us often by parents inquiring about our youth programs.  The simple answer is a Black Belt is a White Belt who never quit.  Since there is no universal governing body on Black Belt qualifications, one will find differing standards from one martial arts school to another on what becoming a Black Belt means.

Before we delve into answering the question on what we at Core Fitness & Martial Arts believe earning a Black Belt means, let’s take a look at some pertinent questions one should ask when looking into a martial arts program.  First of all, what is the approximate length of time it will take my child to achieve the rank of Black Belt?  Secondly, do you differentiate between a Youth Black Belt and an Adult Black Belt?  Finally, does the Black Belt time line correlate with the length of my training contract?

We will now answer the three important questions one should ask when researching a prospective martial arts school for their child or themselves.  Our first question is what is the length of time will it take for my child to earn a Black Belt?  The length of time to achieve the level of Black Belt will vary from child to child.  Not every child begins their journey to Black Belt at the same age.  Even if a child does begin at the same age as another child, the children may vary greatly in physical and mental abilities as well as discipline and self-control.  Our program at Core Fitness & Martial Arts is designed for a child to reach the level of Black Belt in approximately 4 – 6 years.  This variation in duration of time is to take into account the stated child development areas.  Based on these child development stages taking into regard the physical, mental and emotional characteristics of the individual child, it is not logical to believe that a child at the age of 5, for example, can earn a Black Belt at the same rate as a child at the age of 11.  Many programs will advertise that one can earn a Black Belt in 2 years, regardless of the child’s age or developmental level.  These schools are referred to by reputable martial arts schools as “Black Belt factories.” 

Our second question is do we differentiate between a Youth Black Belt and an Adult Black Belt and the answer is a resounding “yes!”  Our Youth students earn a Jr. Black Belt and can earn an Adult Black Belt at the age of 16.  There are, again, many martial arts schools that give only the rank of Black Belt.  It is the same rank regardless of the age of the student achieving the rank.  This undermines and minimizes the achievement of the rank of Black Belt for adults when a youth student can earn the same rank.  One should ask themselves how it is feasible that a curriculum can be structured for a youth student to comprehend and execute the same techniques on the same level as an adult student?  This question can be simply answered by stating that there is a reason youth students do not compete against adult students in tournaments… youth students do not have the capacity to compete at an adult level (physically, mentally or emotionally) and should therefore not be awarded the same rank as an adult.

Our final question is whether or not the Black Belt time line should correlate with the length of one’s training contract?  We do not have students commit to a contract upon enrollment or at any time.  Many schools will have their students commit to a one year or multi-year contractual agreement, stating that at the end of the agreement the student will have earned a Black Belt.  This is a clear indication that regardless of age, physical/mental/emotional development level, discipline, et cetera, that fulfilling one’s contractual agreement means earning a Black Belt.

Here at Core Fitness & Martial Arts, a Jr. Black Belt and Adult Black Belt is not only a White Belt who never quit, but it is a student who remained dedicated, committed and demonstrated perseverance for many years, learning practical martial arts techniques that are suited to the individual’s developmental levels.  These are techniques that can be applied in real world situations as a youth or an adult because the students learned age-based techniques. Our students work through the Core Fitness & Martial Arts Learning Paradigm and cannot only DEMONSTRATE techniques at a Black Belt level, but most importantly APPLY those techniques if the situation ever arises.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Would you like to learn more about our programs or start your own Black Belt journey, then please contact us at 336-793-0878 or

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