Why do students quit at brown belt?

Bushido Karate


To quit, or not to quit, that is the question

When I was looking for insight about this topic online I was shocked at how many articles address this phenomenon.  In this particular site on reddit a dad asks for advice. His daughter wants to quit Tae Kwon DO and he wants her to stick it out.  I was discouraged to see how many replies said “let her quit” before I hit one that said “no”.

I wish I knew a little background on the responders. Their age, or generation? And whether or not they have ever trained as a martial artist?  What instantly came to mind, though, was that the number of  “quits” was directly proportional to to the real-life ratio of most traditional martial arts schools. A very small number will actually achieve black belt.  I also read that one of the replies mentioned he was now an adult and regretted quitting. I can almost guarantee that anyone who quits training at a brown belt level will one day regret it.  How many times does an accomplished martial artist look back and say “I regret earning my black belt.”?

The cure for “Brownbeltitis”

As an instructor since 1999 I can tell you this is a real thing in the martial arts world. It is not fatal, but it could be final. The good news is there is a cure! Simple steps can prevent it, or cure it.  Simple, but not easy.


There is a reason. But what you are told might not be the truth. After training and advancing toward such an important goal for such a long time there is truly only one reason that is real and valid: TEENAGER.  That’s tough because the mentality can be a very hard thing to influence at that age. A lot of changes are happening and he or she may truly have lost interest. Teenagers really believe they know what is best for them. But they don’t. So too bad. Make them finish what they started. It’s hard to be a parent, no doubt.  Ask for help from the instructor. That’s what we’re here for.

At Bushido School of Karate black belt tests, all candidates are required to write and read aloud a speech about their journey to this memorable day. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard “I wanted to quit when I was 14, but my parents wouldn’t let me. I’m so glad they didn’t”.

Other than being a teenager, if you or your child are ready to call it quits at brown belt, that takes some further questioning. Let’s remember that feelings aren’t facts. Sometimes we convince ourselves, but it’s harder to convince others. So make sure you talk it out loud. And especially with your instructor. There are very few times – actually none that I can think of – that quitting in the months before your black belt test is a good decision. Achieving and earning black belt is one of very few memories that will be with you for the rest of your life.  Start the questions after you read this: Inspiration: Courage .         Dig deep and get it done.

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