Shinmyoken Dojo

Westchester | New York

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt?

How long will it take me to get a black belt?

It was a question that I get asked from time to time by those starting the martial path, and unlike other teachers I don’t take offense by it.

It is a natural question.

In our culture, given the popularity and misconception of the martial arts, there is this idea that a black belt equals a master status, or at the very least it means that the student knows *something* about the martial arts.

New students want to know how long it will take before they get good at the martial arts, they are looking for a model to compare themselves against.


A level of proficiency.

We sometimes hear ridiculous assessments by educators trying to equate the martial arts to an academic approach, stating that a black belt is equal to an undergraduate degree, and that different levels of black belt equal a masters or doctorate degree.

Is this an accurate model when you are trying to compare proficiency and ability?

How does one explain the martial arts to somebody outside the dojo, outside of the training?

Perhaps a story?

Imagine a martial arts temple, or a dojo to the gods of war atop a mountain.

At the perimeter of the temple is a large gateway, a martial gate.

You don’t begin your lessons inside the temple, but rather outside it.

Those first martial arts lessons, those first few years are outside the martial gate. You are learning how to move your body, learning about distance, timing, balance. Learning about yourself, and how to move- taijutsu. This self-discovery leads to a choice.

At a certain point one makes a decision.

They can leave the training, having learned valuable skills about life and themselves, movement, philosophy, and ways of moving the body, and take that as they continue the journey through life. Even if they never study the martial arts again, what they have learned about themselves and nature will allow them to lead an effective life.

The other decision point is to step through the martial gate, enter the temple, shrine, or in this case dojo and begin a full and deeper study of the art.

This would be the black belt level- entering the martial gate.

Continuing to use our imagination to capture a feeling, and explain an experience.

Training beyond the gate is before a shrine to the gods of war. One trains and practices, inspired by the teachings, and hopefully picking up on the transmission of the martial arts as the training begins to shift from the seen to the unseen.

Slowly one finds that they are at another martial gate, or rather at this point a hidden door to the dojo.

Can one pass through the hidden door and go beyond what is considered normal perception?

Something mysterious.

Now in stating this, understand, that the martial arts are not easy, but are very easy to master.

The martial arts are physical, correct training over many years, no shortcuts or fantasy, but rather hour and hours of physical training, leading to ability.

One has to have martial ability, but don’t worry about it, the teacher will take care of helping you to develop it.

The secret to mastery.

That easy secret?

Simple, just keep showing up to class and training, keep practicing on your own every day, keep pursuing the martial arts in your heart.

So how long does it take to get a black belt?

The aim of the Shinmyoken dojo (school of the life giving sword) is to understand nature and the movement of being zero through taijutsu. The school exists to create and transmit this through the experience of isshi soden.

Located in Westchester New York, the Shinmyoken dojo is a martial arts training group founded in 2005 with the aim of coming together as martial arts friends to study the Japanese martial arts of Masaaki Hatsumi through the lessons of the Bujinkan dojo. 

As friends (buyu) we come together to grow, learn, and share our individual potential in this wonderful martial art. In our group there is no beginner or advanced classes, as we all have the capacity to learn the martial arts in great stride. 

No previous martial arts experience is needed, new members, and out of town or traveling Bujinkan buyu are always welcome. 

The focus of the group is to make progress each week in learning the martial arts, developing skill, self-defense ability, and an understanding of how and why people move. 

Training is supervised by Fred Feddeck who has been studying the Bujinkan dojo martial arts since 1993. 

In 2003 he was honored to take the godan shinsha with the training group later forming as a vehicle to study what he has been taught and experienced in the Bujinkan dojo martial arts. 

Joe Maurantonio, dai-shihan, is and continues to be his teacher and mentor. 


Training in budo taijutsu through our dojo is offered in three class formats. 

The first is our weekly Saturday morning classes from 9-11 AM at a local park in Yonkers which is accessible by car, bus, and Metro North train. 

Second is our regular weekly zoom class as a way to build on the physical practice-paired movements explored in our Saturday classes. 

Third is our monthly discussion class exploring martial arts philosophy, history, tactics, and kuden. 


Membership in the dojo is open to those eighteen years of age or older and who can abide by the rules of the Bujinkan. 

Those interested in joining the dojo will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire as an introduction and meet with the head instructor before an invitation to watch a class will be extended, general martial arts questions and other training inquiries are also welcome. 

Questions, comments, feedback, and inquiries may be emailed here:


In that moment of action, regardless of style, technique, or application in the martial arts there is only movement. 

The point in time when action takes over and there is only you and the other person- will you know what to do? 

What are the martial arts?

How are these arts transmitted to the next generation? 

How does one “learn” the martial arts?  

Our martial arts are about movement and understanding how the human body works mechanically.  

There are no techniques or set forms- the transition of the art is in understanding the manipulating of distance and timing. It is the passing of eternal ideas and strategies from teacher to student as it was done by the Japanese samurai for hundreds of years before. 

Our practice is about illustrating the concepts so one can better understand them and begin to see them in the day to day movement of people. 

First you understand yourself and how you move, then how others move, and finally by combining the two one arrives at the transmission of the art. 

Our art is about creating opportunity in the moment, an opportunity to put yourself in a better situation, an opportunity to neutralize a situation, and opportunity above all others to escape a situation and make it back home safely. 

These are the questions we explore in each class, and the solution to that moment of action- in that moment of critical decision there is only movement.  

Training Principals:

Control the distance, timing, & rhythm.

Movement will open up opportunities for techniques. 

Always keep moving! 

Self-defense is NOT about fighting, it is about escaping and extracting yourself from a dangerous situation.

Forget the notion of beginner or advanced, every moment in training has the opportunity for a personal breakthrough.

The most important martial arts skill is not about fighting, it is awareness of the situation before, during, and after.

First you become aware of how your own body moves in the martial arts, then how your training partner’s body moves, and then you prevent them from moving with the awareness of how you move.

Training incorporates a variety of movement skills, including strikes, throws, locks, and immobilizations, along with studying a number of traditional Japanese training tools such as the sword, stick, and spear: kenjutsu, bojutsu, sojutsu.

These martial arts lessons are used as a way to understand human movement, how the individual moves, how other people move, and how they all move when it come together, allowing for the practitioner to adapt appropriately for the situation at hand.

Shinmyoken Dojo

Westchester | New York

Email Contact: