Should kids have a black belt?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
12 Sep 2007

Over the years I have seen kids with black belts. I did not award any kids with a belt that high because it would have put them at a disadvantage. When I owned my school a kid could earn up to a brown belt legitimately because they know all of the basics, katas, techniques, and sparring (starting in upper white belt).The belt rankings generally are:

  1. White belt (includes all of the beginning belts such as orange, purple, blue, and green – other schools have different white belt rankings)
  2. Brown belt
  3. Black belt


A kid could get a beginning or intermediate belt if they earned it but black belt means they can defend themselves in most situations. A nine-year-old could not meet this test no matter how good they were. Maybe a fifteen-year-old could defend themselves against most attackers so if they proved themselves – I would award a black belt.Life is not fair and fighting is very far removed from being fair. In a fight when you have to protect yourself – you cannot say wait!… let me get ready or can we do this tomorrow. Many times when you find yourself in a fight, you are tired – sore or sick. At that point you will have to hope your training will pull you though and come out ok.


So anyone reading this posting – please do yourself or your kid a favor – teach them (a kid) that a black belt means something and if they work hard – they can achieve it some day. Also teach them that most people expect that a back belt can fight to defend themselves.

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One Response to “Should kids have a black belt?”

  1. Brason Lee Says:

    John — Good points. I would add that awarding a black belt to kids (e.g., say under the age of 14 years) is problematic because, in addition to what you’ve mentioned, I see that having a black belt requires a level of self-discipline and maturity that might be beyond what is expected developmentally for a kid.