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mattnowak
02-09-2006, 01:23 PM
How long does it ususally take to to get a black belt?

justin
02-09-2006, 01:26 PM
one of those how long is a piece of string, so many variables impossible to answer,

how often do you train, how good are you, how good is your instructor, how good are your fellow students who's help you will need, and hundreds more that dont spring to mind right now.

why do you ask if you dont mind me asking

Dajo251
02-09-2006, 02:02 PM
It takes as long as it takes for you to be ready for it.....

Qatana
02-09-2006, 02:12 PM
how much time do you have?

ccain85
02-09-2006, 02:16 PM
like everyone else has already said, it is up to you, your instructor, and how much time you are capable of putting into your training. please remember though, receiving your black belt should not be your goal. just enjoy your training and all will come in due time. shodan, first degree, is nothing more than a good understanding of the basics. i have had people tell me, once you reach shodan, then it is time to start your training. :ai: :ki: :do:

Aiki LV
02-09-2006, 02:18 PM
There is not one definitive answer. Among the factors involved are the association, frequency of training, understanding of the art, etc. Ask a dan rank in your dojo how long it took them. That might give you an idea of how long it takes in your dojo.

Simbo
02-09-2006, 02:25 PM
I personally like "it depends on how much you pay for shipping" or the story about the student that askes that and the teacher says "the average is 5-7 years." To which the student replies, "What if I practice all day, every day?" and the teacher says "then 10 years." But of course I'm a sarcastic smartass.

akiy
02-09-2006, 02:49 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=61

-- Jun

crbateman
02-10-2006, 07:48 AM
How long does it take you to learn?
How long does it take you to grow 6 feet tall?

The answer is different for everyone.

And you don't "get" a black belt. You EARN one, then you BECOME one, then you ACT LIKE one.

Edwin Neal
02-10-2006, 07:52 AM
what i have to be 6 feet tall? man this is gonna suck... i stopped growing a long time ago and i don't have any of that miracle grow stuff...

Larry Feldman
02-10-2006, 07:52 AM
The 3 big factors are how quickly you learn (tough to change), how difficult or robust the test is (you have no input) and how often you practice - the one thing you can effect.

ian
02-10-2006, 08:23 AM
I have an amusing scheme for students at my club: Since 'wearing a hakama' is seen as prestigious, I don't let anyone wear a hakama until they no longer ask 'when can I wear a hakama'.

Similarly, many people ask 'when can I wear a black belt' - I rarely hear 'how long will it take to get to 2nd kyu, or nidan'. The status associated with a blackbelt is such that I think someone who obtains one should realise the effort (not time) required, and by that stage the prestige of the black-belt pales into nothingness compared with the actual learning experience required to get that belt.

Thus, to answer your question; the time it takes you to get a black belt is the time it takes you detatch any importance to it as a belt.

(sorry if this sounds condescending - not my intention)

mickeygelum
02-10-2006, 09:24 AM
..Here to Walmart....................10 minutes..
..Out of Vehicle and into store...2 minutes..
..Belt rack to register................1 minute..
..Showing up at class with a gold belt buckle on your Obi.....PRICELESS

...It takes as long as it takes...be patient and train diligently...it will come quicker than you thought.... ;)

djalley
02-10-2006, 11:43 AM
And you don't "get" a black belt. You EARN one, then you BECOME one, then you ACT LIKE one.

In my opinion, I think you have the order exactly backwards.

Edwin Neal
02-10-2006, 12:18 PM
yeah if you act like a black belt then you probably ain't... because i don't associate any special way of acting to a black belt... you're still the same person...

justinmaceachern
02-10-2006, 12:22 PM
I can give you a clear answer, it will take from now until then.

Jorx
02-10-2006, 12:57 PM
Usually it takes as long as it takes to get to the nearest martial arts store.

ESimmons
02-10-2006, 01:44 PM
I don't understand why martial artists feel the need to get defensive and/or smart when asked how long it takes to get a black belt.

When someone wants to know how long it takes to get a bachelor's degree, we tell them generally 4 years, although it can vary, depending on the degree, how heavy your class load is, whether or not you pass all your classes, what school you attend, and what your degree is in.

We don't smartly tell them that their goal should not be the degree itself but rather to learn their field, or that they can purchase a fake degree on ebay, or even tell them that a degree is just a piece of paper and in itself means nothing. But when asked about a black belt, we automatically assume the inquirer is an imbecile for even asking such a question and proceed to talk down to him.

You can see from the poll posted on the subject, the general consensus seems to be anywhere from 3-6 years, so I suppose a good answer would be about four-and-a-half years, and of course it varies from place to place.

Karen Wolek
02-10-2006, 02:30 PM
How long does it ususally take to to get a black belt?

Looks like you go to an AAA dojo. Here are the test requirements for the kyu ranks.

http://www.hal-pc.org/~boha/aaakyu.htm

and the dan tests:

http://www.hal-pc.org/~boha/aaadan.htm

Maybe these will help!

I'm USAF-ER and the average time to blackbelt is about 7 years, I think.

MaryKaye
02-10-2006, 03:06 PM
Although my dojo's web site says "five years with consistent practice" my experience is that my teachers are unwilling to test anyone more than once per year, which makes six years a minimum. The four people I know who have or are about to make shodan took between 7 and 11 years each, but there were some injuries involved in the longer times. (My dojo tends to have older students and this may influence length of time to the black belt. Older students tend to bounce back more slowly from injury, as well as having more outside commitments.)

I am told that even though the formal test criteria are the same, the time to black belt for our organization in Japan is dramatically lower--a university student who begins as a freshman can expect to have a black belt by the time they graduate. I have no first-hand experience of this, however.

Mary Kaye
(who would like to have a black belt after six years, but isn't counting on it)

Josh Reyer
02-10-2006, 03:57 PM
I am told that even though the formal test criteria are the same, the time to black belt for our organization in Japan is dramatically lower--a university student who begins as a freshman can expect to have a black belt by the time they graduate. I have no first-hand experience of this, however.


As I mentioned in the "Dan" thread, while the shodan requirements in various Aikikai schools seem more or less equally comprehensive, there's a lot of variety in the kyuu requirements, allowing those in Japan to fly through the kyuu ranks faster than their counterparts in the U.S.

Another factor is testing schedules. When I went to Twin Cities Aikido Center, a USAF dojo, there were of course attendance requirements, but in addition to that seminars with Akira Tohei-shihan were only once a year. If you didn't have the attendance requirements, or if you didn't quite feel ready, you either had to weight another year, or go to a seminar in another Midwestern city.

In contrast, Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan holds tests every other month. My current dojo holds tests every four months, and my instructor holds the right to conduct tests up to sandan, which makes things a lot more convenient.

ikkitosennomusha
02-10-2006, 04:21 PM
It takes as long as it takes for you to be ready for it.....

This is the best answer but if you want a more helpful reply, it honestly depends on how much time you put into it. In general, training 2-3 times a week should take 4-5 years on average. This is from my experience only as this could vary from dojo to organization.

Roban
02-10-2006, 09:11 PM
When I first started Aikido, I thought the very same thing - how long to my black belt? Now I'm getting into it, I don't really care about all that stuff way into the future, I'm enjoying my Aikido and I just look forward to one grading at a time, just as a check that I'm doing OK.

It's not about belts (although it's nice to have a "badge" of your achievements) I feel it's more about having the mindset and the patience to get into a new way of life.

So far, for me, Aikido IS a life changing experience and I'm just letting it all wash over me :) If I find myself with a black belt, I'll thank the people who helped me get there and then just continue on learning:)

Don't rush - savour and enjoy!

Rob

Mark Freeman
02-11-2006, 06:54 AM
When I first started I drew up a chart with target dates for all my belts up to and beyond Shodan. I managed to 'hit' my target right up to 1st Kyu. Then I woke up to myself :eek:
I finally realised that practicing aikido was like 'practicing aikido', if you focus on the the end goal happening too quickly ( wanting to throw? ) then there is tension and effort involved. If you want the technique to happen effortlessly then you need to focus on the moment by moment movement. So I threw away the targets, and just started to enjoy every practice for what it was 'practice'. Eventually the day came to test for Shodan :)
Then the real practice started! :D

regards,
Mark

Sonja2012
02-11-2006, 11:17 AM
And you don't "get" a black belt. You EARN one, then you BECOME one, then you ACT LIKE one.

How would you expect a black belt to act? Should there really be a difference between a shodan and a mudansha in behaviour And if so, what should be different? Or shouldn´t everybody (at least try and) act like a black belt?

Aristeia
02-11-2006, 03:13 PM
Or shouldn´t everybody (at least try and) act like a black belt?
Or indeed shouldn't black belts act like everyone else?

ikkitosennomusha
02-11-2006, 05:50 PM
How would you expect a black belt to act? Should there really be a difference between a shodan and a mudansha in behaviour And if so, what should be different? Or shouldn´t everybody (at least try and) act like a black belt?


Good point! Black belts (yudansha) should act even more humble than mudansha to set an example. Remember, "a beginner's mind". Yudansha knows better.

crbateman
02-11-2006, 08:22 PM
As a mudansha, it is desirable to act like a black belt, but as yudansha, it is expected. That is the difference. People aren't born knowing how to act. There is a time where you learn. Mudansha is that time. That way, when you DO strap it on, you already know, and can be immediately expected to act so. There is added responsibility at that level, both real and perceived. And it is where the learning really begins at yet another level. It's not starting over, but it's close.

jester
02-11-2006, 09:12 PM
Like Eric said, it's a lot like a Bachelor Degree. It takes people a different amount of time to get the same degree depending on your hours and other variables.

Like a Bachelors Degree, even when you get it you might not be able to do anything with it!

James Kelly
02-11-2006, 10:28 PM
Thus, to answer your question; the time it takes you to get a black belt is the time it takes you detatch any importance to it as a belt.
Hi Ian,

Don't mean to be contentious here, but do you really think that the students you've graduated to shodan have detached all importance to it? I find that hard to believe. Perhaps they don't show any external attachment or they show less than they used to, but I suspect that they have strong emotional attachments to the outcome of the test (or to the fact that they've been selected to test if the outcome is a forgone conclusion).

I'm asking this not to be annoying, but to try to find what it is in fact that says to you (and others) that so and so is ready for his/her shodan. You can usually tell. You train with someone and say to yourself, ‘he's ready.' And there's usually an accompanying shift in attitude, but what exactly is that shift? Is it just confidence? The understanding that they've improved and belt or no belt, they know how good they are? That's when it's time to give them the belt? I don't have an answer, just trying to figure it out.

If relinquishing all attachment to the belt were a requirement, I'd still be an ikyu (and probably would be for life).

Mark Uttech
02-12-2006, 05:56 AM
A 'black belt' is always the place where you meet your ego for the first time full blown. And, as the degrees grow, so do the full blown encounters. In gassho

tarik
02-13-2006, 01:45 PM
How long does it ususally take to to get a black belt?

How long does it usually take to learn how to train?

Aristeia
02-13-2006, 06:14 PM
A 'black belt' is always the place where you meet your ego for the first time full blown. And, as the degrees grow, so do the full blown encounters. In gassho

I don't know what that means.

Mark Freeman
02-13-2006, 06:37 PM
I don't know what that means.

Old Zen saying - If you ask the question, you are not ready to receive the answer!

Hopefully Mark will expand, but my guess is that when you reach the level of 1st Dan you will inevitably come up against your own ego, probably in quite a profound way, issues of identity, responsibility, worthiness to name but a few. As you progress up the Dan ladder, these issues do not go away, in fact they are often in sharper focus, the lessons about your self/ego become ever more important. There is no place to hide.
This may be why some people give up aikido around black belt, it's a way of avoiding the inevitable having to face themselves.

Anyway that's my reading of it, how did I do Mark?

regards,

Mark

Mark Uttech
02-13-2006, 07:18 PM
Not a bad description. Continuous training tries us, in many ways. It is the ego that wants to understand, after all. And for some, it is "Juken Jigoku" -a trip through hell.

Edwin Neal
02-13-2006, 07:29 PM
i thought it meant the dyes from the belt and the constriction caused the person to act like an asshole... ;-))

Aristeia
02-13-2006, 10:17 PM
Old Zen saying - If you ask the question, you are not ready to receive the answer!


Old Kiwi saying - if no one knows what the hell you're talking about perhaps you're not being clear!

Amelia Smith
02-14-2006, 06:32 AM
I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask how long it will take to get a black belt. Sho dan is not satori. You get there -- and what "there" is varries by teacher and association -- by working towards it, showing up, etc. I personally looked at the USAF guidelines a lot on my way to sho dan, and maybe I'm just a shallow person, but knowing that I had, say, 300 practice days to be minimally eligible for my next test helped get me out there on the mat, gave me a feeling of progress through those inevitable plateaus in learning. Sure, some things (like athletic talent, or a personal relationship with the sensei) can speed the process, and some things (injury, other commitments, having two left feet and a distractable brain, changing dojos, etc.) can slow the process.

So go ahead, set goals. Practice for practice's sake is all well and good, but why knock ambition? I think it's good to want to learn/develop/grow, and OK to want to have that learning acknowledged.

Geez.

Matt Molloy
02-14-2006, 09:03 AM
How would you expect a black belt to act? Should there really be a difference between a shodan and a mudansha in behaviour And if so, what should be different? Or shouldn´t everybody (at least try and) act like a black belt?

Ahem. I believe that how a black belt was supposed to act was covered in the Contagious Diseases in Aikido thread over in the Humor section.

1. SHODANITIS....

DESCRIPTION: neurotic syndrome that occurs when a person gets a black belt and the next day he is teaching everyone how to "really" do the techniques correctly.

SYMPTOMS: Excessive air coming from the main facial orfice. Frequent interruptions of practice to "help" you.

TREATMENT: A good kick in the croch area

Doesn't seem like a good way to act at all. :p :D

Cheers,

Matt.

aikigirl10
02-14-2006, 09:10 AM
I don't understand why martial artists feel the need to get defensive and/or smart when asked how long it takes to get a black belt.

When someone wants to know how long it takes to get a bachelor's degree, we tell them generally 4 years, although it can vary, depending on the degree, how heavy your class load is, whether or not you pass all your classes, what school you attend, and what your degree is in.

We don't smartly tell them that their goal should not be the degree itself but rather to learn their field, or that they can purchase a fake degree on ebay, or even tell them that a degree is just a piece of paper and in itself means nothing. But when asked about a black belt, we automatically assume the inquirer is an imbecile for even asking such a question and proceed to talk down to him.

You can see from the poll posted on the subject, the general consensus seems to be anywhere from 3-6 years, so I suppose a good answer would be about four-and-a-half years, and of course it varies from place to place.


lol I completely agree.

Justin Gaar
02-14-2006, 09:51 AM
IMHO, i believe that mitigating circumstances should be taken into account when dealing with dan test. It's a matter of taking the feelings of the student into account. To be worthy of testing for dan rank, one must put alot of effort and dedication into his/her training for a very long time. I think it's cruel to be denied what you've worked for so long to achieve (really it's not about the belt, but then again it doesn't hurt to have a sense of accomplishment) simply because of an injury or a misunderstand of the material. None of us are perfect and even my sensei doesn't have a problem speaking of his own flaws before and after becoming yudansha. If one is injured one should be given another chance. It's as simple as that. If one does not understand the technique due to disorders like Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD) Which make it difficult to comprehend the material in verbal form then that should be accounted for. The sensei should be made aware of these disabilities from the beginning however.

Justin Gaar
02-14-2006, 10:09 AM
SORRY GUYS!! I posted on the wrong thread. Disregard this.

koz
02-27-2006, 09:44 PM
This type of thread reminds me of this classic story...

Matajuro Yagyu was the son of a famous swordsman. His father, believing that his son's work was too mediocre to anticipate mastership, disowned him.

So Matajuro went to Mount Futara and there found the famous swordsman Banzo. But Banzo confirmed the father's judgment. "You wish to learn swordsmanship under my guidance?" asked Banzo. "You cannot fulfill the requirements."

"But if I work hard, how many years will it take to become a master?" persisted the youth.

"The rest of your life," replied Banzo.

"I cannot wait that long," explained Matajuro. "I am willing to pass through any hardship if only you will teach me. If I become your devoted servant, how long might it be?"

"Oh, maybe ten years," Banzo relented.

"My father is getting old, and soon I must take care of him," continued Matajuro. "If I work far more intensively, how long would it take me?"

"Oh, maybe thirty years," said Banzo.

"Why is that?" asked Matajuro. "First you say ten and now thirty years. I will undergo any hardship to master this art in the shortest time!"

"Well," said Banzo, "in that case you will have to remain with me for seventy years. A man in such a hurry as you are to get results seldom learns quickly."

bryce_montgomery
03-01-2006, 02:49 AM
How long does it ususally take to to get a black belt?


1. A year.
2. A day.
3. A month.
4. 2-9 days depending on the shipment method.
5. 5 years.
6. 20 years.
7. 100 years.
8. Never.

All of these answers could be the answer to your question, but not all of them have the same outcome and affect.


bryce

jimmy2006
03-04-2006, 05:56 AM
At a students blackbelt grading the master asked the student "where will you be tomorrow if you pass and where will you be tomorrow if you fail ?" to which the student replied "Training" the master was impressed, the point Im trying to make is belts and gradings seem to have become the centre focus for most martial artist but the centre focus should be the training"The martial artist makes the grade not the grade makes the martial artist"

Nick Simpson
03-06-2006, 04:47 AM
"The martial artist makes the grade not the grade makes the martial artist"


A good point, but sometimes having a grade does indeed make the person act differently, sometimes in a positive sense. A 'Black Belt' does not give you the 'skills' of a dan grade, but it 'might' just make you aware that you have certain responsibilities and obligations to your dojo, sempa, kohai and sensei...

Dirk Hanss
03-06-2006, 05:46 AM
A good point, but sometimes having a grade does indeed make the person act differently, sometimes in a positive sense. A 'Black Belt' does not give you the 'skills' of a dan grade, but it 'might' just make you aware that you have certain responsibilities and obligations to your dojo, sempa, kohai and sensei...

Well Nick,
you hav now the same responsibilities and obligations as after grading,but you are not yet aware of them. Is it that what you are going to tell us?

Don't have your sensei told or you will never be admitted to test ;)

Regards Dirk
(just 3rd kyu, i.e. no obligations at all)

Nick Simpson
03-06-2006, 05:54 AM
Pardon? I was speaking theoretically, not using myself as an example Dirk. As far as I am aware, I am currently being allowed to test :p

you hav now the same responsibilities and obligations as after grading,but you are not yet aware of them. Is it that what you are going to tell us?

True in a way, however, after receiving Shodan more is expected of you as a senior student/yudansha and you have to strive to meet those standards, not just in the eyes of your sensei but in those of people from other dojo. As a yudansha you will be held to be a good representative of your sensei's dojo and if you dont perform/act with dignity...

Steve Mullen
03-06-2006, 06:58 AM
...Mr T and chuck norris will come round and whup yo ass?!

Mark Freeman
03-06-2006, 10:32 AM
True in a way, however, after receiving Shodan more is expected of you as a senior student/yudansha and you have to strive to meet those standards, not just in the eyes of your sensei but in those of people from other dojo. As a yudansha you will be held to be a good representative of your sensei's dojo and if you dont perform/act with dignity...

I remember not long after passing my shodan test the only thing that toned down the enormous smile on my face :D was the heavy feeling of responsibility that seemed to decend from above to finally settle around my waist area. It is still there and I have learned to accommodate it, but it was a weird feeling at first. ;)

regards
Mark

Nick Simpson
03-07-2006, 06:59 AM
:)

Dirk Hanss
03-07-2006, 08:12 AM
Pardon? I was speaking theoretically, not using myself as an example Dirk. As far as I am aware, I am currently being allowed to test :p



True in a way, however, after receiving Shodan more is expected of you as a senior student/yudansha and you have to strive to meet those standards, not just in the eyes of your sensei but in those of people from other dojo. As a yudansha you will be held to be a good representative of your sensei's dojo and if you dont perform/act with dignity...

While I see the point, that is expected from all our mudansha as well, 3rd kyu more than 6th kyu, sandan more than shodan and thus generally yudansha more than mudansha. It might be explicitely told before shodan grading and the step is bigger than before - technically as well - , but it is all the same.


@mark: Are you sure you meant waist area and not lumbar region? It sounds as you were expected to make many mudansha (preferably female) happy. OK OK unqualified joke, will be deleted and moved to humor region ("aikido jokes, nobody laughs about").

Regards

Dirk

roosvelt
03-07-2006, 12:53 PM
I don't understand why martial artists feel the need to get defensive and/or smart when asked how long it takes to get a black belt.



Probably they are talking based on their personal experience like "I have my black belt, but I still don't know Jack."

Nick Simpson
03-07-2006, 01:56 PM
While I see the point, that is expected from all our mudansha as well, 3rd kyu more than 6th kyu, sandan more than shodan and thus generally yudansha more than mudansha. It might be explicitely told before shodan grading and the step is bigger than before - technically as well - , but it is all the same

Yeah, I know what you mean. It's just sometimes, different responsibilities come for yudansha/senior students compared to mudansha, depending on dojo and instructor...

Perry Bell
03-07-2006, 10:04 PM
How long does it usually take to to get a black belt?

Hi

It takes about as long as the buss trip to the martial arts shop cost about 7 bucks ;)

If you have been given a black belt by your sensei after a number of years of training, you will realize that its not the belt that is important, but the journey you took, that is the important part.

Thanks Perry :)

Dajo251
03-07-2006, 10:16 PM
ok random question I have never thought to ask, once you pass your shodan test, do you have to go out and buy your own black belt or is it generaly presented to you? I have watched several shodan tests and never really noticed or thought to ask

Michael O'Brien
03-07-2006, 10:49 PM
ok random question I have never thought to ask, once you pass your shodan test, do you have to go out and buy your own black belt or is it generaly presented to you? I have watched several shodan tests and never really noticed or thought to ask

In Tae Kwon Do it was presented to me at the end of the test; Give me another couple of years and I'll be able to answer for Aikido. :)

Perry Bell
03-07-2006, 11:39 PM
ok random question I have never thought to ask, once you pass your shodan test, do you have to go out and buy your own black belt or is it generaly presented to you? I have watched several shodan tests and never really noticed or thought to ask

Hi

My first , second , third, fourth, and fith dan belts in karate were all presented formally before the start of the class about 4 months after I took the test all of that has taken 30 years.

I have been practising Akido for quite a number of years now and have not attempted my first black belt grading yet I am in no rush, I guess when I do I will know how it is presented. I have sen others obtain theirs and they were all presented during class times. :)

PeterR
03-08-2006, 12:10 AM
Probably they are talking based on their personal experience like "I have my black belt, but I still don't know Jack."
Possibly but more likely

a) they know how long it took them but understand it varies from style to style, dojo to dojo, person to person, how often they train and what sort of talent they have. There is no good answer.

b) they know about a) but are too wrapped up in its "not about the belt" to see that it does have some importance for those that are working for it. Its a self centered view but hopefully they will get past it.

In the dojo where I did my grades, a reasonably athletic person who trains 3-4 times a week will have Shodan within 4 years. Some get it faster, some longer. Let's say 3-5 years.

The black belt is usually presented as a gift from your teacher. Of course you pay for it through a higher test fee but with color changes within the kyu grades the belt cost is more explicit.

Mark Uttech
03-08-2006, 06:07 AM
I ordered my blackbelt via US mail two weeks before my Shodan test. That said something to me about confidence; at least that is what I told the people who asked why I did that.

Amelia Smith
03-08-2006, 06:15 AM
In my dojo, the dojo members all pool their money to buy a black belt and hakama for whoever is testing for sho dan. So far, there have been 5 of us (wow, that's a lot, there were none when I started), 6 if you count the sensei.

Michael O'Brien
03-08-2006, 04:05 PM
In my dojo, the dojo members all pool their money to buy a black belt and hakama for whoever is testing for sho dan. So far, there have been 5 of us (wow, that's a lot, there were none when I started), 6 if you count the sensei.

Sounds like a very nice tradition to have started.

Qatana
03-08-2006, 05:42 PM
We are given our belts by sensei, costs come out of our regular dojo fees. We don't pay for testing until shodan when we "formally" join Aikikai.

Dajo251
03-08-2006, 10:15 PM
In my dojo, the dojo members all pool their money to buy a black belt and hakama for whoever is testing for sho dan. So far, there have been 5 of us (wow, that's a lot, there were none when I started), 6 if you count the sensei.
thats great, I like that idea, I talked to my sensei today and belts come out of the dojo fees, and apparently he wants me to test for 5ht kyu on june 17th....I got some work to do,

Sonja2012
03-09-2006, 01:58 AM
In my dojo, the dojo members all pool their money to buy a black belt and hakama for whoever is testing for sho dan. So far, there have been 5 of us (wow, that's a lot, there were none when I started), 6 if you count the sensei.

We get our black hakama from the dojo after the shodan test, too. It gets presented by sensei in the first practice after your test. That was a very meaningful moment for me - sort of like coming of age or some rite of passage. A very special memory.