Re: Ranking systems in different countries
I think there's too much variation, not just in the time/hours/training requirements but more importantly in what is expected at different levels, to draw any conclusions about what's typical. Like Andrew's "How long does it take to catch a fish?" question, it all depends on what fish you're trying to catch. A couple of things I would say: 1)It's safest to assume that the dojo down the street will have different standards, never mind the dojo in another country, and 2)being a "fast learner" isn't really an advantage for a beginner, as it turns out that you're usually "learning" some things fairly quickly but missing others that can turn out to be a big struggle later on.
The black belt has such strong (and generally erroneous) associations in popular culture, no wonder it's such a common question of beginners to know how long it will take to get a black belt. If you're asking the question, though, it's worth asking yourself what you'll do when you get there. Food for thought...