Sadly there is no direct answer to this question as everyone’s Jiu Jitsu journey is very different, but achieving a black belt is the Holy Grail which many practitioners will be aiming for. It can take anything from five years to 15 years to achieve this level.
Getting a black belt is dependent on many different factors including how much time you have to dedicate to practising the sport, and on the quality level of your instructor, as well as your level of competitive experience.
Let’s take a look at some of the key factors which can help you achieve that elusive black belt:
One of the ways to improve your knowledge and techniques is to spend some time studying Jiu Jitsu so that you have the techniques and information stored in your brain as well as your body. Spending time watching the masters at work on videos and reading about their personal black belt journeys can help provide tips and inspiration.
However, there is only so much you can learn from reading about or watching techniques on video, this alone won’t improve your personal technique unless it’s combined with regular physical practice at the same time.
Following your own path
While it’s good to learn from other practitioners, it’s important to know that everyone has their own path to take towards that elusive black belt and that everyone learns at very different rates so if you don’t feel like you are making the same progress as someone else; it’s not the end of the world.
Comparing yourself to others around you, who seem to be doing better is never a positive thing to do for your own self-esteem; it will only leave you feeling down and doubting your own abilities, when what you need to do is keep your confidence up.
If you feel you are not making the progress which you should be, then it’s important to focus on yourself and speak to your instructor to find out where you could improve and which areas you should be practicing even more.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone apart from you. Track your own progress and have goals in mind which are achievable for your own progress, without seeking to mimic someone else’s journey as you will just get frustrated that way.
Taking part in competitions
If you are serious about achieving your black belt, becoming a competitive practitioner is the way to go as you are more likely to get there quicker. Taking part in competitions provides you with a lot more experience.
You get to learn which techniques work and how to handle opponents better, enhancing your own approach much more quickly than regular practice mat work. Taking part in competitions also gives your instructor a really good view of your skills.
If you are dominating all of your matches then you will know it’s time to go up to the next rank, or if you are getting beaten you know it’s time to keep practicing and improve your own skills through more practice and application.
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Your instructor’s view
The decision to move you to the next level ultimately lies with your instructor so it will be up to them how long it takes you to move through the belts. Don’t ask for your belt as that is likely to add more time to your journey.
Just work hard to enhance your skills, improve your techniques and take part in regular competitions to prove to them that you are putting all the work in, and they will be watching and assessing you, you can be sure of it.
However, if you are improving and growing in the sport, but not getting anywhere, it may be that there is a personal issue between you and your instructor so if you think that is the case it might be worth trying to get a second opinion from someone else.
After all, you don’t want to be held back from achieving your goal due to someone else’s petty jealousies or personal issues they might have with you. It’s rare fortunately but it can sometimes happen.
Getting your black belt in Jiu Jitsu is the ultimate dream and aim for many practitioners but it shouldn’t be your only goal. It’s important to enjoy the sport and take part in it fully without being totally focussed on belt colours.
But if you study, practice, and take part in competitions on a regular basis, you should be able to move towards that elusive black belt more quickly than if it’s just a hobby you take part in once a week, for example. Whether it takes six years, sixteen years or you never get one; it’s taking part in the process which is the point of Jiu Jitsu.