The Karate Belt And The Order Of Ranking

Karate has a rich and famous history as a martial art. Alternatively, the karate belt ranking system is a more recent addition to the art.


The beginning of the karate belt ranking tradition is the subject of a popular myth. It is a common belief among martial arts practitioners that they began their training with a white belt, which turned black after years of practice. This was due to perspiration and dirt accumulation. This story has no solid evidence behind it. Any student who came up in an unwashed, filthy outfit would likely be turned away, given the excellent standards of sanitation and cleanliness at any karate dojo. For whatever reason, the same reasoning holds true when it comes to not cleaning one’s karate belt.

Since the turn of the 20th century, the progress of Karate practitioners has been graded using the kyu/dan grading system.

Even now, a lot of modern karate styles use on the Judo kyu/dan grading structure. The purpose of the “Black Belt” was to show competence rather than mastery. A black belt does not mark the conclusion of the adventure.

The True Story Of How The Karate Belt Came To Be

In Okinawa, the home of Karate, martial artists trained in secret for centuries. It was risky for them to wear a coloured belt or any other indication of their martial arts mastery.

Jigoro Kano, the creator of Judo, actually came up with the concept for a coloured belt system in the late 1880s. Just before that, certificates were only given to students who rose through the ranks.

The inspiration for Jigoro Kano came from Japanese swimmers, who represented their higher status by wearing a black ribbon around their waist. He began awarding belts at his Judo school. Beginners should wear white, whereas instructors and experienced learners should wear black.

The system spread from Judo to Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and other forms of martial arts.

A couple more colours were introduced to the system in the early 1900s. Furthermore, the full-color Karate belt system wasn’t created until the 1930s or 1940s.

The Ranking Order Of The Karate Belt

In Karate, belt colours signify the rank and level of mastery for any individual who practices and performs the martial art. What do the other colours indicate in martial arts, even though the majority of people know that a “Black Belt” denotes the expert level? How do you find out which of your classmates ranks higher than the others in a karate class? What is the rank order in karate?

Karate has nine solid colour belts in all, ranging from white to black. Stripe belts indicate a higher degree of that belt colour in many martial arts systems. It can help to break down the Black Belt goal into smaller, more manageable steps that are better for learning. In the Karate belt ranking order, each colour indicates a distinct degree of mastery and expertise. A beginner’s belt is white, while an expert student’s belt is black. But in Karate, there are other black belt ranks, which we shall discuss before the conclusion of this piece.

1. White Belt Rank

This is the first rank in karate where a new student gets the White belt from their instructor. However, it is after mastering the fundamentals of the art. At the outset of their martial arts adventure, this belt represents that they are a true karate student.

All martial artists are trainees at first. No matter how old these people are—children, teens, or adults—all pupils will start out as white belts in martial arts.

2. Yellow or Gold Belt Rank

A student in karate, can advance to the next rank and obtain their gold belt by demonstrating mastery of the fundamentals. The learner will be exposed to a more complex curriculum at this time in their training, which frequently includes a traditional “form” or “kata.” The colour yellow, which represents brightness, shows that a student of Karate is still willing to try new approaches, strategies, and methods.

3. Orange Belt Rank

The small plant’s life gets harder as the sun gets hotter. In a similar spirit, the student’s training gets harder.

The rank of the orange belt identifies a student who has made excellent first progress in learning karate. It is necessary that the student understand the definition of Kyokushinkai, dojo etiquette, and how to fold a karate gi correctly. Additionally, the learner must exhibit a few fundamental stances, blows, kicks, and defences. The pupil should, in general, study and master the fundamentals of karate and relearn any preconceived notions about fighting that may have existed in the past.

4. Green Belt Rank

The colour green symbolises growth as martial arts students advance and continue to grow. Many fighting styles believe that the pupil is capable enough at this point to learn to control contact fighting, or sparring. Because you learn when to move in with a counterattack and when to get out of the way to prevent an attack, sparring serves as the best self-defense training method.

5. Blue Belt Rank

The sky is what the blue belt represents. Students are trying to hone their acquired skills at this level, understanding a variety of karate movements.

In karate, the blue belt rank will begin to learn and master the most fundamental techniques as well as more advanced karate skills. A frequent goal of blue belt training is to acquire new moves and advance to higher levels while simultaneously improving previously mastered techniques with more speed and strength. The possibilities are endless.

6. Purple Belt Rank

The darkening and changing of a blue sky at dawn is what the purple belt symbolises. At this level, practitioners of karate are regarded as “intermediate” pupils since they are learning the art in greater depth. These pupils are rising through the ranks and heading towards being expert in self-defense.

7. Red Belt Rank

Given that these pupils have mastered both basic and intermediate methods, the karate red belt rank stands for the strength of the sun. A person who earns a red belt in martial arts moves to the “advanced” level of training. Due to their increased mastery, red belts are frequently referred to as “self-defense belts” since they are able to defend themselves against attackers.

8. Brown Belt Rank

A seed will turn brown as it ripens and fully matures. In karate, brown belt rank represents a student’s development into a mature martial arts expert, ready to savour the full rewards of their hard work. This seventh belt illustrates the technical and skill maturity of a pupil, depending on the karate system used at the school.

9. Black Belt Rank

In the Karate belt rank system, the Black Belt is still the highest and most sought-after level. Obtaining it normally requires three years of training. This belt signifies that a pupil went through the full ranking system. And also gets recognition for their exceptional mental and physical accomplishments. Those who hold a black belt are usually regarded as karate experts. They possess sufficient experience to instruct new pupils in the art and philosophy of Karate. The Black Belt is the highest rank attainable by a martial artist, despite being the ninth and last belt.

The Black Belt Degrees

After you receive a black belt, the journey never ends. There are ten black belt degrees, and they all need years of rigorous training.

First Degree: Sho-dan

Although a Black Belt is officially acknowledged as an expert in self-defense, the First-Degree Black Belt is still a novice in the Black Belt community.

Second Degree: Ni-dan

To become a Second-Degree Black Belt, one must practice for at least two years and continue to hone their craft. The 2nd Degree is an accomplished martial artist due to their ongoing training.

Third Degree: San-dan

After three additional years of training as a second degree Back Belt or five years overall as a Black Belt, this level is attainable.

Fourth Degree: Yon-dan

A prize awarded for martial arts mastery and willingness to instruct others. Attained after completing nine years as a practicing Black Belt or four additional years of training as a third degree.

Fifth Degree: Go-dan

Finally, the rank of “Master” can be attainable after seventeen years of rigorous training—three years as a student and fourteen years as a Black Belt. A person who has completed years of training and instruction to achieve “mastery” in the martial arts is known as a 5th Degree Black Belt. A master of the martial arts must possess not only the physical prowess and knowledge but also the ability to teach others.

Sixth Degree: Roku-dan

Six years after earning your fifth degree or twenty years as a Black Belt are what you require to reach this level. This level is for karate masters who have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the art and who can “give back” to the sport by instructing others and passing on their knowledge to the next generation.

Seventh Degree: Nana- dan

Attained seven years following the sixth degree, or twenty-seven years following the Black Belt path. This level is for seasoned martial artists who have a thorough understanding of karate. The 7th Degree Black Belt most likely has “martial arts grandchildren” by this point. In other words, their Black Belt students have trained other Black Belt students, who in turn have become the original instructors.

Eighth Degree: Hachi-dan

Obtained after 35 years as a Black Belt or eight years as a 7th Degree. Only Masters who have influenced the martial arts community and trained for nearly a lifetime are eligible to wear this belt. The master’s contribution to the sport through mentoring, competition, and lifetime investment in others determines their elevation at this level.

Ninth Degree: Kyu-dan

Obtained 46 years as a Black Belt, or nine years following the 8th degree. The 9th Degree Master now becomes a leader and esteemed elder in the martial arts community. This level of Black Belt is incredibly uncommon.

Tenth Degree: Ju-dan

This is the highest and most distinguished title, bestowed upon masters who have dedicated their entire lives to advancing the martial arts and who have shown a track record of noteworthy accomplishment. They have imparted life lessons of bravery, honour, and respect to their students and the martial arts system. Also, they have infused others with the unbreakable spirit of the Black Belt.

Some Karate Titles

Dai- Sempai

Dai, which translates to “big” or “great,” frequently refers to the class’s “big brother” and is typically awarded to first-kyu brown belt and junior black belt.


It refers to a “senior” or “mentor,” and is frequently used to denote a first- and second-dan instructor’s assistance.


Often denotes an instructor with advanced rank (generally awarded at second or thirddan, but it can be awarded later). It means “one who came before” or has travelled the path before.


This is the senior instructor’s master title (first awarded at 4th dan) and is the equivalent of a doctorate.


It is a master title, meaning “polished expert,”. Typically awarded at the sixth dan level.


This is a master title that translates to “teacher of teachers,”. Typically awarded at the seventh dan.


A style’s head master is known by the master title of “hanshi.”


This is an icon of a particular style.


The originator of a style.

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