Lionel's Blog

HOW LONG does it takes to earn a BLACK BELT ?

That’s the questions I received the most in the last couple of Months.

That’s indeed a good question even if earning a Black Belt is not a Time Trial but a kind of gaining maturity in your Uechi skills, stamina, Balance & Coordination.

As when I earned my green belt and decided to try to go up to the Shodan I asked several Sempais about the duration and I had plenty of different answers meaning that the Route to Black belt is clearly a personal route.

During this questioning phase I was sometimes frustrated to not get physical datas to analyze and compare with my training diary.

This month I have decided to share on my Blog my personal training data and some tips I noticed during my ‘Route to Shodan’

Training data ?
Training data are really well used in endurance sports such as cycling and running.
First reason : it is simple!  You buy a Cycle computer or Running stopwatch and after the session everything is downloaded in the cloud with all your data :

Garmin Connect Interface for Endurance Cycling : the ‘Big Data’

In Karate, we are not used to have a training diary but in my point of view that’s a big mistake !
During each session, you work different things : Kata, Hojo-Undo, Sparring, Self-defense, … On each of different exercise you have specifics points to be improved and another points you are performing well.
Take time after your session to note what you have done and which key movements or skills you need to improve it will help you to plan your ‘homework’. This point is leading us to the Training Plan.


Training Plan & Homework
I do not like the word training plan as this word seems more oriented to only athletic performance. In my case my training plan was oriented to optimize my Uechi-Ryu skills (Hojo-Undo, Uecki Blocks/Punch/Kicks, ….) and my fitness level.
Without good fitness level it should be difficult to overcome sparring and honestly that was my case when I started my Uechi-Ryu path. At that time I had difficulty with only 2 min sparring and in my school you need to have 5 for the 1st Kyu with 30sec rest between.
Building a plan will help you to focus (based on your diary) what you have to work. If during a kata execution your sensei noticed you have too much parasitic movements then plan to work on it during 2 or 3 weeks and ask him again to check your Kata.
You will find as an example my plan for the week before the Uechi-Ryu French Cup when I was intensively working Seiryu.

You are certainly like me, in the college you did not like yours so why starting again to have homework and karate ones ?
Let’s be pragmatic, your sensei is taking acre of you and is keen to give you advise to make you better.
So why don’t you try to get the most of him ?
If you are not working at home, you sensei will certainly repeat you again and again the same things. It will be boring for you and for him.
No let’s be pragmatic,  at the end of Kanshiwa your 2 last movements are not so good … try to work it at home; you do not need hours and hours per day; just do 20-30mins every 2 day trying to understand what is wrong, you will arrive in the dojo with a part of the solution and your sensei will help you to find the other part.

And so … HOW LONG it takes ?
Sorry to have detailed a lot my way of working but I think it can help some of you in the famous ‘Route To Black Belt’
For me earning a Black Belt has represented 32 months of training ( a little less of 3 years) with an average of 5-6hrs per week.
You will find below the complete view with accurate data and graphs.


Overall : 32 Months of Training with a total of 1,043 Hours of training.

On these 1,043 hrs I spent 570 hrs  working Uechi-Ryu and 473 hours of Circuit Training + Heavy Bag.
On top of that I included trekking, Cycling and few hours in the pool (to change my mind).
I destroyed 2 Karategis and used 6 belts (White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue and Brown)

Weekly basis : around 7h30 in avg

More than 4 hours of uechi-Ryu and 3h30min of Circuit traing & Heavy Bag
Max Weekly Volume : 16hrs
Min Weekly Volume : 2hrs


Hope it will help you to achieve your goals and do not forget to Train Often & Train Smart !


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