The Student we TRIED to Fail

In Coaching, Discipline, Kids Martial Arts Classes, Personal Stories, Training by Don Alley

Have you ever heard of anyone earning their black belt in 11 months?

Brian Keefer is the very first student that I trained to go from white belt to black belt. Brian is an amazing martial artist who’s very talented. He was about 10, maybe 11 years old when he started training with me. It only took him 11 months to earn his black belt!

The reason it took so little time is because of how intense he trained. He was a homeschool student, and at the time,  my instructor offered an open floor to students during the late morning, early afternoon. You could come to the floor and you could train and practice, no instructional help, but you could take advantage of the martial arts floor and be there and practice.

Every day, Brian would come in, and he would train, and he would push, and he would work. Once a month, he would tell us, “I’m ready to test. I want to test for my next belt.” It got to a point where we would literally try to fail him. We wanted him to fail because we felt like he was moving up too fast, but the reality is we couldn’t fail him because he was so good. He just got really good really fast.

One day he came to me and said, “Mr. Alley, I’m ready to test for my black belt.” I was like, “Gosh, Brian, you’re not ready. It’s only been 11 months.” We set up testing, and my instructor, Master Arthur, I remember, said to me, “Done. You just mark my words, I’m going to fail him. He’s pushing us. There’s no way he can be ready in 11 months.” He went into that test with the absolute intention of failing Brian Kieffer for his black belt test, and he couldn’t fail him, Brian was too good.

We passed him, and he earned his black belt that day, and it was really exciting for everybody. 11 months. Why only 11 months? Because that boy practiced three, four, five hours a day. He was hungry, he was after it. Now, compare that to another student that I know who took eight years to earn his black belt.

The reality is, it didn’t really take him eight years. He piddled around for seven years, and then he got serious for the last year. In that last year, he pushed, he worked, he was focused, and he blasted out of the water and did a great job, earning his black belt.

How long does it take to earn a black belt? 

The reality is it takes about 300 hours. If you put those hours in once or twice a week taking classes and train a little bit at home, then it’s going to take about three to four years. You can absolutely earn it much more quickly if you put in the hard work. 300 hours is about what it takes.

If you think you want to earn a black belt with Super Kicks, then the good news is you can start taking our classes for free for 30 days. One month free, train, take class, see if we are the right school for you, and set your goal to earn your black belt, and not just you, but earn your black belt as a family.

I’m looking forward to having you in class. See you soon.

Don Alley
Don Alley is the owner and chief instructor at Super Kicks Karate in Ashburn and Leesburg, and has been training in the martial arts for 28 years. He is currently a 6th degree black belt, and has dedicated the entirety of his adult life to teaching children and families martial arts. He is also the owner of Center Stage Preschool, a Montessori-based, performing arts preschool; and co-founder of Testudo Addiction Recovery, a non-profit organization serving families in the Northern Virginia area.