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Sunday, April 13, 2014

1872 Hours to a black belt?

Somewhere I read, and I think it was on 24FightingChickens.com, that it generally takes 1872 hours to earn a black belt in Shotokan karate.  The author got this number from either asking someone or reading an interview with some famous Karate-ka... I can't remember and I can't find where I read this.

Thus I have added to the blog sidebar a graph of my training hours.

It is obvious to me now that if I go along with the pace my sensei sets for me, it will not take me 1872 hours to get a black belt.  We have only had about 35 hours of classes to date and Aspen was awarded a yellow belt (11 kyu) and I was awarded a light blue belt (8 kyu).  There are many reasons for this which he explained.

Personally, I am happy to take 5 years  or more to get a black belt and become a "yudansha".  We are now practicing about four hours a week.  If we continued at this pace without skipping, we would train about 200 hours a year. That would mean it would take close to 10 years to reach 1872 hours of training. I would be 50 then. Obviously, hours in "class" will not be enough to bring our skill up very quickly.

The same teacher teaches in a city two hours away and commutes twice a week to teach our small club.  He says that in the city, students can train six days a week if they want to.  Of course I would love to train more.  Five days a week would make me a happy and healthy martial arts student.  Unfortunately, that is unrealistic for our lifestyle right now.

With any luck, I'll be able to start getting my lazy ass out of bed in the morning and I can start training in the mornings again like I used to when I was running.  With any luck, I'll be able to start running again sometime in the future, hopefully, before the summer of 2014 comes to an end.

The challenge then, until I can start running, is to devise a training plan or method to help improve my fitness and improve my skill, strength and speed for karate.  There is not much that gets my heart rate up like running did.  Strength training with my friend Steve does.  We do a short training session with a minimum of two exercises and usually three or four, done in a circuit.  Our bread and butter workout right now comprises these two exercises:
  • Push press (squat to military press / Thrusters)
  • Pullups (or lat pull-downs / chin-ups)
We'll also do other things like bench press, bent over rows, leg press, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the stationary bikes, curls, lunges, sit-ups, what ever.  We try to do moves that involve as many muscles as possible.  Thus the lunges might include a twist or be done while holding a barbell overhead or done like the thrusters.  Chins might be done with a knee raise at the top.  Sit ups might be done on the decline while holding and throwing a medicine ball.

At the moment, I am only logging class hours in the spreadsheet for the graph.   It is rather a time sink to record all this stuff, but if I might start logging my karate specific training done outside of class as well, but only if they are done as a workout.  I do often practice my kata and do basic form drills at home for a few minutes at a time.  I know that all contributes to my improvement but it is hardly worth the time it takes to log it.