How long does it take to become a Master?

Learning Martial Arts Online

How long does it take to become a Master?

Do you know how long it takes to become a Master – for example in Wing Chun? In this episode of the Martial Podcast I will tell you …


Hello and welcome to today´s episode of the Martial Podcast. My name is Martin, I´m a martial arts instructor from Austria and today I want to tell you my thoughts on how long it really takes to become a Master.

As I am most experienced in the martial art of Wing Chun, I want to base my statements on my experience there.

Yeah and as always you can either listen to this audio file or read the full transcript on my blog at

So first things first: How long do you think it takes to become a Master?

How long did it take for the people you know to achieve this level of competence? Or is there nobody you know who is a real Master yet?

And by the way:

How do you know if somebody else is a Master?

Normally, in most martial arts you can name yourself a master by the time you have achieved the 5th Dan or some call it the 5th higher grade.

In Wing Chun for example you have your student grades – in Europe there normally are 12 of them, but that is different from association to association. Then there are four technician levels and also four Master Levels.

So first you have to go through the student and the technician levels before you can take examination for the first Master Level. And even then: It´s just the FIRST Master Level as there are four of it in total.

So you see: The 5th higher grade in Wing Chun is only the first master level. Therefore it is no endpoint. You still can develop substantially from there.

But what does it mean to have the skills of a 5th higher grade in Wing Chun?

Most of all it means that you know of all the techniques and all the principles and concepts there are in Wing Chun. But as there is still a lot of room for development, it doesn´t mean that a master is a perfect fighter and is superior to all kinds of opponents.

Of course a Master has to have tremendous abilities. But as I mentioned it already: There are four Master Levels, the 5th higher grade is therefore only the entry level and nothing more.

But let´s get back to our actual question:

How long does it take to become a Master?

And let me take the example of Wing Chun again. Normally you have a waiting period before you are allowed to take your next examination.

So usually you can get the next student grade every three months – so it takes you at least three years to complete your 12 student grades. Most likely it will take you longer, but let´s assume you train a lot – probably four times or so a week – and then you can achieve that goal in three years easily.

But as you have completed your student grades the waiting periods get longer and longer. To take examination for the first technician grade you have to wait at least one year at Europe´s biggest Wing Chun Organization for example. And that´s only the case if you teach your own class. Otherwise it will take you at least half a year longer.

But again: Let´s say you teach Wing Chun and that you already have your regular class that you teach – so it takes you four years to name yourself first technician in Wing Chun.

To attain the second technician level in Wing Chun you need to train at least for another one and a half years. And the third level takes you two and a half years. So it takes you at least eight years to become a third level technician in Wing Chun.

But to become a master you still have two levels to attain:

And these two take you at least another seven years because of the common waiting periods. So all in all you need at least 15 years to become a master.

But: That´s only the formal act of recognition.

Of course you can become as good as a master much faster. It doesn´t have to take you 15 years to be as good as a real master.

However: If you want to be recognized as one by others – you have to take the examinations, you have to adhere to the waiting periods, and therefore it takes you at least 15 years to formally become a master.

But as I see it: That doesn´t mean that you are no master if nobody hasn´t you awarded a Master Level so far.

And that´s the point!

There should be no waiting periods in my opinion. Because to become a master shouldn´t be measured in years. It should be measured in invested training hours.

So the real question is:

How many hours does it take you to become a Master?

And that´s really the actual question to ask.

Because different people don´t invest the same time and effort into their Training.

Some train four times a week. Others only train one time a week or maybe not even that.

And sometimes there are people who really get obsessed about training. They almost train every day. Though it is rare of course, there are people who train 20 hours a week on average. And they do that over several years.

So should these people have to wait 15 years to become a master? And some other person attains the same by training only half as much or even lesser? I don´t think so.

So the question here is: How many hours does it actually take to become a master? I mean on average: How many hours does it take?

The good news is: I know several people who have attained their Master Level and I approximately know how many hours they have invested over the years.
Normally they needed a bit longer than 15 years. Most of them needed about 20 years to achieve this. And on average they trained about five to six hours a week over all those years.

So on average, they trained about five to six thousand hours to attain their first master level.

At first, that sounds like a lot of invested time.

But as there are people out there who train 20 hours a week: (Ok I admit they are rare.) Theoretically you can become a master within five or six years.

You just have to put in the work. And you have to have access to proper tuition.

But as the internet provides you with a lot of opportunities it is really possible to attain that within five or six years.

If you are really passionate about martial arts, than why not combine training in your local school and online training together?

Okay I get it: You probably don´t want to train up to 20 hours a week. But the point is this:

It doesn´t depend on someone else if you become a master or not.

It only depends on you. Are you willing to put in the work? Are you willing to train five to six thousand hours?

Because if you are willing to do so, you become a master in the end. And it doesn´t matter if you learn it in your local school, on seminars, in private lessons or online.

The most important thing is that you train.

Or like Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player said:

I´ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.

Think about that for a moment.

And let´s see again in two weeks for the next episode of the Martial Podcast.


PS: If you are interested in training Wing Chun online, than visit our Master Class at

And keep training and become a Master!

Sifu Martin Grünstäudl –

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