Get Your Black Belt In 12 Months, REALLY!

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Did you know that you could legitimately earn an ITF Black Belt in as little as 18 months?

Did you know that you could legitimately earn an ITF Black Belt in as little as 12 months?

Yes you can.

Now before your head explodes and you go off on a tangent about how this is some scheme, how this will diminish the integrity of the art, how this must be some money making ploy, about how long it took you to earn your Black Belt and how much people need to suffer, wait and endure years of training before earning a Black Belt, check page 93 of Volume 1 of the Taekwon-Do Encyclopedia.

Don’t have the Ecyclopedia?  Check it here online:

Yes, even General Choi had the foresight to create different programs for different people on different paths.

When someone gets upset about how long it should take to earn a Black Belt, it usually comes down to a misunderstanding of two things.

The first misunderstanding is their past experience and the pride or righteousness they have about what they accomplished.  They think that whatever they had to do was THE way to do it and are narrow minded about the many possible pathways one might take to earning a Black Belt.

I’ve heard people brag about taking 7 years of training to earn their Black Belt and those same people say things like, “You can’t possibly be a real Black Belt if you only took 3 years to get it.”

When I interact with them I usually ask them, “What took you so long?”

The second misunderstanding is not being clear about what a Black Belt represents.  They think that by having earned a Black Belt that they’ve gotten somewhere, that they’ve mastered something or have reached some mountain top.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll let Gen. Choi explain:

“The first degree Black Belt holder has usually learned enough technique to defend himself against a single opponent.  He can be compared to a fledgling who has acquired enough feathers to leave the nest and fend for himself.  The first degree is a starting point.  The student has merely built a foundation.  The job of building the house lies ahead.”

So let’s get these two things straight.  What you went through and the amount of time it took for you to earn your Black Belt is is valid and you should be proud of what you developed, earned and accomplished.  But that isn’t the only path to attaining Black Belt.

Secondly, you may have spent years of training to earn your Black Belt, but still you are no expert.

“The novice Black Belt holder will now really begin to learn technique.  Now that he has mastered the alphabet, he can begin to read.  Years of hard work and study await him before he can even begin to consider himself an instructor and expert.

A perceptive student will, at this stage, suddenly realize how very little he knows.”
~Gen. Choi

Of course the shorter the length of the time it takes to earn a Black Belt is directly related to the concentration of training time one puts in to reach this level.  Gen. Choi’s criteria for Black Belt is as follows:

30 month course – 585 hours – Hour and a half per day, 3 days a week
18 month course – 702 hours – Hour and a half per day, 6 days a week
12 month course – 1248 hours – 4 hours per day, 6 days a week

Black Belt is only a beginning.

This attitude, this way of thinking about Black Belt must be woven into the fabric of your school such that it is clear to every student, no matter what rank.

This, incidentally will increase your retention in your school as well.  You’ll have many more students training beyond Black Belt because they are clear that they aren’t there for a belt, but to develop a way of life.



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About the Author:

taekwon-do phoenix, taekwon-do arizona, taekwondo phoenix, Phoenix taekwondo, itf taekwondo, taekwondo itf, tkd phoenix, taekwondo az, taekwondo Arizona, martial arts phoenix, martial arts Arizona, martial arts az, Phoenix Martial Arts, Arizona Martial Arts, Phoenix Karate, arizona taekwondo, karstadt, karstadt taekwondo, ITFJohn Karstadt

Senior Instructor – Karstadt Taekwon-Do

Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt.  He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline,  leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world.  He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do.  He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy.  Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children.  Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at

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