How long is the duration between colour-belt gradings? It’s a common-enough question, and doesn’t have the same answer for everyone. For starters, it varies from School to School. It depends on the student’s age, skill, class-attendance, home practice-time, maturity and other developmental areas, e.g. confidence. The one thing grading time should NOT be measured in, is chronological months.
So, let’s consider some of the different factors:
- Sometimes students coast from class to class (albeit with consistent attendance) but without training in-between class. After six months they will be miles behind a student who has been training consistently in-between classes, improving every week.
- Age is a factor, as it affects how easily skills are learnt. It is also linked to Maturity. In Connacht Taekwon-Do, we have a minimum age of 13 for black belt. It is because I believe a black belt stands for far more than demonstrating some learnt Patterns and kicks. There must be a certain level of maturity, and communication skills. They must have be able to defend themselves effectively. Spreading out gradings makes sense, to allow students to develop, at each level.
- Natural ability plays a certain part – students who are naturally more athletic may move quicker through the beginner grades than those who struggle with coordination. In the latter case, this is where other areas of development become more increasingly important, e.g perseverance. It is essential that students don’t view grading as a race. Every student is on their own journey. Just take as long as you need to take.
The main takeaway points:
- Expect to wait six to nine months from when you start PRACTICING, not from your last grading. You can’t expect to change belt if you haven’t improved. I have had students remain the same grade for 12+ months, before they got motivated to practice.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. The only comparison that matters is – if you are better than you were yesterday.
- If you are consistently improving, gradings will take care of themselves. As First Grandmaster Rhee says, “Grading is a privilege, not a Right.”
– Master Fitzgibbon.