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Robin Walton
05-03-2002, 01:22 AM
How long does it take to get a black belt? I told my friend that I started aikido last week and he asked how long it would take? I told him one year but maybe a little more is this right?:confused:

Robin

shihonage
05-03-2002, 01:31 AM
3-4 years as the super-bare minimum.

Edward
05-03-2002, 01:34 AM
1 year? Sure!

If you're training 3 hours daily at the aikikai hombu dojo for 1 year, it might be possible.

At our dojo, if you practice 6 days a week, you might get it in 3-4 years, if you're lucky. Otherwise, it takes usually 6-7 years.

Cheers,
Edward

nikonl
05-03-2002, 02:22 AM
My sensei always said, "Who wants my belt? i can give it to you right now". No one ever did raised his/her hand. I would think the meaning behind this is that, he could give us the belt, but are we worth the belt? You are what you are, just take your time. Someone wearing a white belt might have been training for 10 over years and could be better than someone with a shodan and training for 1 year. (if that's possible :) )

justinm
05-03-2002, 04:55 AM
I was wearing a white belt after 10 years.

Then, after I was awarded my shodan, it took several years before I felt I was good enough to wear it (but always very proud to do so).

It's all personal.

I have trained with 5th Dan's with less 'years' experience but far more hours training than me, due to my lifestyle compared to their's.

How long? For our club it is anything between 5 and 10 years. Normally the upper end.

Simone
05-03-2002, 05:06 AM
Hi Robin!

Where I train, it depends upon your personal ability. If you can learn all requirements for Shodan in one year, fine. But this never happened. For me, it took little less than 5 years and for my colleague who tested with me little less than two years. He was the fastest one, I think. But normally between three and five years.
I also agree with Leslie. You can just buy and put on a black belt and never be worth it. It's really a very personal thing. And it's the sign that your sensei thinks you worth of it. I hope you'll stick long enough with Aikido to find out yourself.....

Simone

PeterR
05-03-2002, 05:57 AM
In Tenri - nearly everyone in town wears a black belt.

Very weird the first time you see it - you can buy one in every second shop.

Greg Jennings
05-03-2002, 06:34 AM
Originally posted by Robin Walton
How long does it take to get a black belt? I told my friend that I started aikido last week and he asked how long it would take? I told him one year but maybe a little more is this right?:confused:


Answer 1:
It's a function of organization guidelines, instructor preferences and the individual student.

Answer 2:
It's all relative.

Answer 3:
Most people don't seem to care after they get it.

Best Regards,

Kanch0
05-10-2002, 10:14 AM
Since I started Aikido I've never considered belts to be of any real value. After nearly three years regular training I am a 5th kyu and am happy to remain one.
It took my sensei over 6 years to be awarded his Shodan. And that was through training on average 5-6 hours a day (every day) in the Dojo under his father (a Shichidan) (who never actually graded him).
With all things considered I think that it should take AT LEAST 12 years to attain a dan rank with regular training. Unless like my Sensei you can afford to train to the extreme.
With any less than that can you really have mastered the basics????

Erik
05-10-2002, 12:14 PM
Originally posted by Robin Walton
How long does it take to get a black belt? I told my friend that I started aikido last week and he asked how long it would take? I told him one year but maybe a little more is this right?:confused:

It's irrelevant. We are all above worrying about trivial things like how long it takes to get a black belt in this art. That's a meaningless thing and proof of a primitive mind.

If we get indignant about people getting rank too fast, or if we complain about a dojo with a "3-year journey to shodan" program and call them McDojo's or something, that's because we are above materialistic concerns,

Any apparent contradictions in the above statements aren't real and merely your imagination.

PS: To answer your question in the general sense. Some places do it that fast but most don't. Even in the one's where you could do it that fast it's probably not happening to someone fresh off the street but someone with prior MA experience. Figure anywhere from 3 to 10 years for most folks. 5 is fairly typical for what I've seen.

Randy Pertiet
05-10-2002, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by Robin Walton
How long does it take to get a black belt? I told my friend that I started aikido last week and he asked how long it would take? I told him one year but maybe a little more is this right?:confused:

Robin

Our Sensei told us the story that I've seen on this site before about the student wanting to train very hard and how quickly can he become shodan. The student was willing to work very hard and the more he commited the longer it would take. :)

First night we were told to expect 10 years. My brother will be testing in June for shodan and guess what, this is his 10th year...

cdwright
05-10-2002, 06:53 PM
Not to sound harsh, but if all you friend wants is a black belt, they are easy to find and under 20 bucks.

That question is actually a monumental pet peeve of mine, along with, "When am I going to test?" Or "When is my next promotion?" If most people put as much time into training as they as did worrying about the rank, shodan rank would come before they knew it. In addition, the people that really know whats up, know that the shodan rank is when training begins, and not where it ends.
I would prefer people(for example at demos), my sensei included, look at me and say, "Wow, he is a good green belt." Instead of "Who in the *@^& promoted this guy to black belt?" Remember, that what kind of aikidoka you are(attitude and all included), reflects on your sensei as well.


I hope you have enough trust in your sensei that he can ascertain when you need to be promoted. You worry about the training, let him/her deal with promoting you.....

Jim23
05-10-2002, 08:07 PM
Originally posted by Kanch0

With all things considered I think that it should take AT LEAST 12 years to attain a dan rank with regular training. Unless like my Sensei you can afford to train to the extreme.
With any less than that can you really have mastered the basics????

What? Twelve years?

By the time you get there you could also be a doctor and a lawyer.;)

Jim23

Erik
05-11-2002, 12:57 AM
Go to a college and ask them how long it will take to get your degree.

"Why son, it will take ya 4 long years."

No one cares, it's assumed and we wouldn't feel proud or smarter if it took us 10 years to get a degree as a general rule. And, we are encouraged to work hard towards getting that degree. We may even be so motivated that we take summer classes, get it in 3-1/2 years and when we do that we get to feel smarter.

Go to a dojo ask them how long it will take to get a black belt.

"WHAT! HOW DARE YOU ASK THIS QUESTION YOU UNHOLY AND UNWORTHY PIECE OF CAMEL SPIT!"

Sheesh! If it's just a black belt and you don't care about it then how come so many of us get worked up whenever someone asks about it? So what! They want a black belt. Cool! Help them learn what they need to know to get to that level and move on. No big deal and just like getting an education.

Edward
05-11-2002, 01:09 AM
Well, we all agree that a black belt just marks the beginning of your training as a serious and dedicated aikidoist. If considered under this angle, I believe there is nothing wrong about really wanting to get a black belt as quickly as possible, of course with the necessary amount of long hours of hard training. It just says that you want to become part of this Yudansha world with their hakama, special training sessions, their special relationship with sensei, demonstrations...etc.

It might denote that the person is just impatient to achieve the above.

Robin Walton
05-13-2002, 01:34 AM
I am sorry i am asking bad questions I will try to ask better ones. Does any one know of a web site that answers beginner questions for people who dont have alot of experience in aikido or anything else?


Robin

shihonage
05-13-2002, 02:02 AM
Originally posted by Robin Walton
Does any one know of a web site that answers beginner questions for people who dont have alot of experience in aikido or anything else?


www.aikidofaq.com

Tim Griffiths
05-13-2002, 02:35 AM
Hi Robin,

At a rough estimate, it took me about 700km of forward rolls, and about 1000km of backward rolls. In other words, I ended up further back than I started.

You asked a very valid question - as I'm sure you've guessed by now there's a lot of debate about it. In Japan a black belt tends to mark a much lower degree of expertise than in the West. It marks a proper student of the dojo, not a master aiki-killing machine. However, students will then spend a longer time at 1st and 2nd degree black belt. It all pretty much evens up by sandan (3rd degree black belt), though.

Tim

ndiegel
05-13-2002, 11:13 AM
Robin-

Most everybody (granted that they're not already well versed in philosophy of martial arts, or whatnot) will ask this question. It's not uncommon, and it's not a bad thing. I don't really believe you can ask a bad question (though there may be inappropriate times for them). I can say only that the average in our dojo (going 3-4 times per week) should take you about 5 years. Our top sensei (3rd Dan) has been training about 12 years. Don't expect anything quickly. :)

akiy
05-13-2002, 11:22 AM
Personally, I think it's odd that everywhere outside of Japan treats shodan to be a huge deal. Many, many people in Japan reach shodan in about a year. In my mind, shodan is not meant to be anything symbolic of "mastery" nor "ability to teach" but understanding the technical basics of the art.

In the United States, though, the average time to reach shodan is probably between four to seven years.

Here's a poll I conducted here about a year back asking, "How long did it take you to reach shodan in aikido?":

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=61

-- Jun

Kat.C
05-14-2002, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by akiy
Personally, I think it's odd that everywhere outside of Japan treats shodan to be a huge deal. Many, many people in Japan reach shodan in about a year. In my mind, shodan is not meant to be anything symbolic of "mastery" nor "ability to teach" but understanding the technical basics of the art.

In the United States, though, the average time to reach shodan is probably between four to seven years.


http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=61

-- Jun

Just curious about a couple of things, do people in Japan generally get in more training time per week than those in the States or Canada? Or do they pick it up much faster than we do?

Erik
05-14-2002, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by Kat.C
Just curious about a couple of things, do people in Japan generally get in more training time per week than those in the States or Canada? Or do they pick it up much faster than we do?

It's because Westerners are worthless creatures. We corrupt everything we touch and we are incapable of achieving the necessary mindset for harmonious interaction and integration with the world. The Asian traditions are the true beacons of enlightenment and truth. Their minds are more capable of grasping the secrets of Aiki.

We suck! We suck! We suck!

Just ask us and we'll tell you so.

And, we have low self-esteem too.

guest1234
05-14-2002, 04:48 PM
Kat,

I'm just guessing, but I'd say it probably has to do with a younger age and more plentiful dojos/classes (so more time to devote and opportunities to practice), say a college student with no family/spouse/job competing for limited time and chances to go to class three or more times a day.

Chuck Clark
05-14-2002, 05:52 PM
Colleen has made a couple of good points in her post above, but Jun hit it on the head. The Japanese regard shodan in a much different light than a lot of practitioners outside of Japan.

Shodan basically means that there is a general understanding of fundamentals and a basic competency in demonstrating the shodan requirements. It also has a bit of "you've passed through the doorway and have paid some dues" sort of thing.

Quality in any person has lots to do with the ability (both performance and teaching abilities) of their teacher and the level of their peer group that they practice with most of the time.

Regards,

Tim Griffiths
05-15-2002, 02:51 AM
Originally posted by Kat.C

Just curious about a couple of things, do people in Japan generally get in more training time per week than those in the States or Canada? Or do they pick it up much faster than we do?

Kat, the point is that a typical Japanese shodan is not as good as a Western shodan (purely due to practice time). The grade is given at a very different level.

I think that what happened is that Western students went to Japan, got a nidan or sandan grade, and came back as Secret GrandMaster Panjandrum's. They then had to scale the grading requirements to keep themselves at the top.

Tim

Peter Goldsbury
05-15-2002, 03:16 AM
I was rather shocked when I first came here and saw the low level of practice and teaching in the university clubs with which I am familiar.

But the local city and prefecture clubs are about on a par with anything I have seen in the US or Britain. Here in Hiroshima the general norm seems to be five years or more for a shodan, which is clearly seen as a starting grade. And the student is not normally allowed to initiate the process. The shihan or local instructors indicate when they think someone is ready to take a test.

For what its worth, I have heard from a number of Japanese shihans who live and teach abroad that they did not want to be thought 'soft' by their contemporaries in Japan, so they made sure that their grading requirements were at least as difficult as, if not more difficult than, those in Japan, especially at the Hombu.

Best regards,

guest1234
05-15-2002, 08:52 AM
I don't know if I'd say Western shodans are better than Japanese ones...I've met good and bad examples of both. And I don't even think amount of time is an indicator: I've met those who've made shodan in 2 years or less, and those who've taken 10 years, and the longer amount of time shodan was worse despite his much longer time in practice. Everyone is different, everyone learns at their own rate, progresses at their own rate---makes shodan at their own rate. Who cares how long it takes someone in Japan, or even my own dojo? I don't even care how long it takes me, if ever. The learning is the important thing, and most imiportant is that I'm learning at my own rate.

I think quality of shodans varies a lot from dojo to dojo, and sometimes (due to 'courtesy' promotions) even within a dojo. And some folks are really hung up on making a rank, and others not. Others see rank as an indication of their lown learning and progression, and as long as that is their focus, rather than a comparison of their rank vs someone elses, then it is a healthy thing. Personally, from all the variation in shodan ability I've seen, I think it just means that that particular person has reached a point (which is NOT standardized, but rather an indivualized point) that their particular sensei feels they are ready to move to another level (whatever THAT means to the sensei and the student). And that objective technical ability doesn't mean necessarily a whole lot in the sensei's determination.

akiy
05-15-2002, 09:25 AM
Hi Peter,

Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
For what its worth, I have heard from a number of Japanese shihans who live and teach abroad that they did not want to be thought 'soft' by their contemporaries in Japan, so they made sure that their grading requirements were at least as difficult as, if not more difficult than, those in Japan, especially at the Hombu.

This explains a lot! Thanks for the observation.

-- Jun

Gopher Boy
05-15-2002, 06:14 PM
It seems I am getting a little more comfortable posting so am throwing my little white-belt opinions around in a post about Shodans!

I can only vouch for my dojo but all the Shodans (and there are a few) behave in a certain way. Being a beginner and often not seeing the subtle (and important) differences in a technique as displayed by a Shodan and then a 3rd kyu, I can only focus on what is apparent to me. That is that all the Shodans are exceptionally nice, friendly, caring and actively helping beginners.

I think that there is a certain personal development that Sensei looks for in aspiring Shodans. The potential to be a responsible student, able to help the lower grades.

I only mention this (without any refernce to the time it takes) as there are a few posts on the technical abilities of Shodans and how they vary but I didn't see much on their personal development of character, which I feel must be equally important.

I hope, at least, then that I will make shodan as it will reflect for me a positive change in my character. With so many people saying that Aikido is not a violent art and if you want to maim people then do something else, is it unreasonable to think, then that a 'black belt' in Aikido signifies more that technical proficiency?


Phill.

batemanb
05-17-2002, 02:11 AM
I trained in the UK regularly for 9 years, doing 6 hours a week without making black belt. When I relocated to Japan, I started again with no grade. I still don`t have one, but it is not something that I worry about or give much thought to. I train in Aikido because I enjoy it, and miss it when I don`t do it. My first Sensei always used to say "It`s better to see a good yellow belt than a poor black one".

For what it`s worth

virginia_kyu
05-21-2002, 06:48 PM
I just began Aikido and I thought when starting that I could possibly get my black belt in a few years. After taking some classes I think that 5-10 years is more realistic.

Chris Wells
05-21-2002, 08:02 PM
I dont believe that belts/ranks are as important as knowlege. I for one would hate to get a belt/rank and be expected to perform a way that i am not able to.

It was the great Mr. Miyagi who said the only belt that was important was his JC Penny $10 belt.

Greg Jennings
05-21-2002, 10:00 PM
Originally posted by Chris Wells
I dont believe that belts/ranks are as important as knowlege. I for one would hate to get a belt/rank and be expected to perform a way that i am not able to.

It was the great Mr. Miyagi who said the only belt that was important was his JC Penny $10 belt.

Hi Chris and All Mudansha,

Ssssshhh. Quiet.

I'm going to divulge the secret that they give us yudansha with our black belts.

It's the single most, if not the only, important secret to attaining skill and high rank in aikido.

You must double dog promise and hope to spit if you ever divulge this closely guarded secret.

<Looking over both shoulders> Here it is....

Keep coming to class. Don't drop out.

Best Regards,

akiy
05-21-2002, 10:18 PM
Originally posted by Greg Jennings
Keep coming to class. Don't drop out.
You forgot: Don't die...

-- Jun

Greg Jennings
05-21-2002, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by akiy

You forgot: Don't die...


Wait! They didn't tell me that! I've been robbed!

Best Regards,

Chris Wells
05-21-2002, 10:28 PM
I dont think you have to worry about me not ever coming to class. If i miss a day its likely i died... :freaky:

going to class is one of the only things i look forward to, besides christmas and income tax check time :D

renfieldKuroda
05-22-2002, 01:12 AM
Originally posted by Kat.C


Just curious about a couple of things, do people in Japan generally get in more training time per week than those in the States or Canada? Or do they pick it up much faster than we do?

I think, like in any other country, some people here in Japan train only a couple days a week after work or school, and some people train almost religiously. Some study martial arts in school (junior high/high school/college) but then again the most popular after school sports are baseball and soccer.
There's probably a higher concentration of dojo in the cities, and even in the countryside practices are often available at schools/community centers, so access to instruction is probably higher than in most countries, but I don't think there's an innate tendency to excel in Japanese arts just because of one's nationality.

Regarding belts, it's been mentioned but worth seconding, a shodan black belt is attainable in a year or two in perfectly respectable dojo, but it by no means indicates an instructor-level mastery. It is more a symbol of commitment; putting in the time to get a shodan shows you are now a committed student of the art and in a sense your "real" training has begun.