If you’re thinking about getting into MMA or even entering the UFC, then you might want to know if you can combine separate martial arts at a high-level to give you an edge over your opponents. So can you have multiple black belts?
Yes, you can have multiple black belts in different martial arts. In theory there are no limits to how many black belts you can earn. As long as you become good enough to qualify for a belt in each fighting discipline, you can earn another belt with any others you might have.
You don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve got 9 well-known examples of fighters who have at least 2 black belts and sometimes more!
What Is A Black Belt?
A black belt is an award in some, but not all, martial arts that signifies you have reached an agreed standard in that martial art. This standard is normally one of competence in the basic forms and philosophy of that art but can, occasionally, signify mastery of the art too.
How Many Black Belts Can You Have?
You can have as many black belts as you can earn. It is worth noting, however, that not all black belts are created equal and black belts awarded from a “McDojo” will not give you any street credibility at all.
It’s important to get a black belt that is based on your abilities and knowledge of your chosen martial art.
How Long Would It Take To Get Black Belts In Multiple Martial Arts?
Gaining your first black belt would take at least 3 years in most martial art schools and could take as many as 6.
However, you ought to be able to achieve additional black belts at a faster rate by taking on a different style of the same martial art from a different school. In this instance, you might be able to reduce the training to a year or two to get your second black belt.
However, if you think this sounds like cheating – you’d need to pick an entirely new discipline and that means undergoing a complete learning curve all over again. You’d be looking at about another 3 – 6 years before you gained a black belt in your second martial art.
If you intend to include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in your fighting styles portfolio, bad news, it takes 6 – 12 years to gain a black belt in this discipline.
9 Fighters That Prove You Can Have Multiple Black Belts
Chuck Norris – Actor
Chuck Norris is the actor who launched a thousand jokes regarding his “hardness”. My favorites are “Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then it exploded.” And “Death once had a near-Chuck-Norris-experience.”
He served in the United States Air Force before taking up martial arts and gained several black belts before setting up his own fighting school, yes Chun Kuk Do is all down to Chuck Norris.
His achievements include 10th dan in Chun Kuk Do (which you’d kind of expect as he invented it), 9th dan in Tang Soo Do, 8th dan in Taekwondo (Chuck Norris was the first person from the Western hemisphere to achieve this), a 5th dan in Karate and a 3rd dan in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
It’s not just for show either – he won the World Karate Championships 6 times! He is also a member of the Martial Arts Museum’s Hall of Fame the only reputable martial arts hall of fame in America.
You can see Chuck in the World Karate Championship in YouTube here:
Donnie Yen – Actor
Donnie Yen Ji-dan, to give him his full name, is one of the Eastern hemisphere’s biggest talents. He was born in Hong Kong and is one of the best paid actors in the region. He was also one of the most popular actors in Asia during the early 2000s.
Even today, he is a huge box office draw in China. His most famous role was in Ip Man which introduced the Wing Chun fighting style to the world and is single-handedly credited for reviving the popularity of that style of fighting with audiences everywhere.
It is Ip Man that is considered to have triggered the opening of hundreds of new Wing Chun schools across China and Hong Kong.
Western audiences will also be familiar with Donnie Yen’s work as he starred in both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.
He is proficient in many different martial arts and has gained high rankings in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wing Chun, Judo and Taekwondo. He is also a many-time winner of the world wushu championship. Yen is thus the epitome of the mixed martial arts fighter.
You can see Donnie Yen’s best moments in Ip Man in this YouTube compilation here:
Dave Mustaine, Megadeth – Musician
Dave Mustaine was very nearly an intrinsic part of the world’s most famous metal band, Metallica. He was part of the band during the Kill ‘Em All period but sadly, his huge overuse of both drink and drugs didn’t endear him to the other members of the band. Apparently, he also used to enjoy picking fights with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield.
He was shown the door before Ride the Lightning was completed and was left to start his own band – Megadeth. Megadeth was “speed metal” to Metallica’s “thrash metal” and while hugely successful, it was never quite as big as Metallica.
Mustaine continued his drink and drugs rampage until discovering Christianity during the early 2000’s. From then on in, he began to lead a healthier and more sensible lifestyle and found himself falling in love with martial arts.
He now has black belts in both taekwondo and a style of karate known as Ukidokan. He was also nominated to become a goodwill ambassador for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in 2007.
You can see Dave putting some of his Karate skills to good use in this short video clip below:
Glenn Danzig, The Misfits/Samhain/Danzig – Musician
Danzig is one of those huge rock/metal personalities that nearly everyone has heard play even if they’ve never known it was him. His career began with two bands – the Misfits and Samhain which were big on the underground scene in the 1970s and 1980s.
It wasn’t until the late 80s, however, that Danzig’s biggest moments came when he formed his own solo act from the ashes of Samhain, the eponymous Danzig.
When Danzig hasn’t been making music, he’s often been making other forms of art and he has appeared in movies such as The Prophecy II, and on TV in shows like Portlandia. He was also asked to audition to play Wolverine in the Marvel big screen adaptations, but he had to turn down a casting call for the role as he had a scheduling conflict.
In his spare time, Glenn Danzig has also become a two-time black belt holder. His original black belt was in karate and then he picked up Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do in the 1990s. Not only has he got a black belt in Jeet Kune Do, he also picked up a teaching degree! Danzig also studied Muay Thai, but it is not known what level he has achieved in this sport.
Danzig offered his opinions on Jeet Kune Do in this brief YouTube clip:
Rashad Evans – MMA Fighter
Rashad is now retired from MMA, but he is now an inductee in the UFC Hall of Fame and won The Ultimate Fighter 2’s heavyweight category and picked up a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship too.
He began his career as a wrestler but was convinced to train in MMA by Dan Severn and when he won his first 5 fights, Rashad Evans was turned on to MMA completely and never looked back.
He was eminently qualified to be an MMA fighter holding black belts in Karate, Gaidojutsu (a submission-based fighting style which was invented by Greg Jackson), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, it’s worth noting that he was awarded his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Rolles Gracie who didn’t even ask Rashad to put on a gi before handing out the award.
You can see Rashad in action in this full UFC show on YouTube:
Stephen Thompson – MMA Fighter
Stephen Thompson is widely understood to be one of the best strikers that the UFC has ever seen. His kickboxing is incredible, and he once went undefeated for 58 consecutive matches. He’s been involved in two fairly controversial UFC world championship bouts too.
In his MMA career, he’s won 15 times and only lost 4 times, and has a single draw to his name.
He achieved his black belts in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (or Tetsushin Ryu Ju-Jitsu, to be precise) and Kempo Karate. He also holds another black belt that some say shouldn’t count for lists like these – one in American Kickboxing. Whether it counts (or not) he qualifies for the list from his first two belts alone.
Georges St-Pierre – MMA Fighter
The greatest achiever in the UFC history in the welterweight category, Georges St-Pierre is an incredibly dedicated martial artist. He has been Canadian athlete of the year 3 times and Fight Matrix considers him to be the most accomplished MMA fighter of all time.
His MMA career has seen 26 wins and just 2 losses. He has held the UFC Middleweight title once and the UFC Welterweight title twice!
He has black belts in Kyokushin Karate, Gaidojutsu and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu too.
Here’s a wonderful ‘mini movie’ tribute to Georges St-Pierre on YouTube:
Fabricio Werdum – MMA Fighter
It might be easier to list the things that Fabricio hasn’t won in his martial arts career rather than the things he has. He’s won the UFC Heavyweight title, been a two-time BBJ champion, won the Abu Dhabi Heavyweight title twice and won the European Jiu-Jitsu championship!
The only league for MMA that he hasn’t competed in is the Bellator league.
His black belts come from Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.
If you ever meet Fabricio, you ought to hope that it’s not in the same way as Travis Browne did in this YouTube clip:
Anderson Silva – MMA Fighter
Possibly the greatest fighter of all time is Anderson Silva, certainly if you took a vote in the MMA community – it’s unlikely anyone else could come close. He spent 6 years, 8 months and 27 days at the top of the UFC leagues undefeated.
He defended his title successfully 10 times! He also picked up 13 performance related post-fight bonuses during a win streak of 16 consecutive fights.
He has black belts in 5 different martial arts – they are Capoeira, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo and Tae Kwon Do.
The highlight reel of Anderson’s career shown below is an extraordinary tribute to the sport’s greatest figure:
Multiple black belts is not only a possibility but a reality for many professional fighters. Of course, the extraordinary claims of people having 10 or 20+ black belts should be taken with a pinch of salt. Gaining a black belt is hard work and there aren’t enough hours in a lifetime to achieve THAT many.
You can have as many black belts as you can reasonably earn.