Karate Belts

History   

Japanese Judo was the first martial art to introduce the colored belt ranking system as a visible indication of the students' progress. The colored belt ranking system soon was adapted for Karate, and was first used by Sensei Gichin Funakoshi and his Shotokan Karate schools. Click here to learn about the Goju-Ryu Karate belt ranking system.

    As students pass through the ranks taking grading examinations they are awarded with different colored belts. The color order and which colors are used varies from school to school, as does the relationship between belt color and rank (= Kyu).

    However the Kyu or number/rank always starts at 10 and ends at 1. Black belts ranks then increase normally, from 1st Dan to 10th Dan. In most Karate schools beginners are automatically considered a 10th Kyu (wearing a white belt). Some schools are known to grade beginners for their 10th Kyu, which may have its reason in being able to collect an extra grading fee.

    Today most Karate students buy a new belt after they have been awarded a higher kyu and thus require a differently colored belt. Most people have no more use for their old belts and may give it to junior club members for free. It is definitely worth enquiring.
 

Belt Requirements:  (Note, based on Shahan-Ryu style)

**White Belt 

General Requirements

  1. This rank is assigned to individuals of good moral character who have been accepted as a student by an officially recognized instructor of the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Basic knowledge of dojo rules and procedures.

**Yellow Belt

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of three months time in grade as Shichi-Kyu.

 General Knowledge

  1. Origin of Karate: Okinawa
  2. Translation of "kara-te": Empty Hand
  3. Known length of Karate’s history: Over 1,000 years
  4. Official style of Karate as taught by the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation: Shihan-Ryu Karate
  5. Translation of "Shihan-Ryu": Master’s style
  6. Basic Martial Arts Etiquette

 General Terminology

Students should familiarize themselves with the following terms.

  1. Formal Exercise: Kata
  2. Free Exercise: Kumite
  3. Forward Stance: Zenkutsu Dachi
  4. Back Stance: Kokutsu Dachi
  5. Horse Riding Stance: Kiba Dachi
  6. Punching: Tsuke
  7. Striking: Uchi
  8. Kicking: Geri
  9. Blocking: Uke
  10. Shout (release of Ki): Kiai
  11. Teacher: Sensei
  12. Place of Learning: Dojo
  13. Begin: Hajime
  14. Stop: Matte
  15. Upper (level): Jodan
  16. Middle (level): Chudan
  17. Lower (level): Gedan
  18. Taikyoku: First Cause ("cause" as in causeway or bridge)
  19. Counting Numbers:
  1. Ichi
  2. Ni
  3. San
  4. Shi
  5. Go
  6. Roku
  7. Shichi
  8. Hachi
  9. Ku
  10. Ju

 WAZA – Techniques

Students will demonstrate the following techniques.

Ate Waza: Hand Techniques

  1. Lunge Punch: Oi-Tsuke
  2. Reverse Punch: Gyaku-Tsuke
  3. Two-fisted Punch: Morote-Tsuke (horizontal and vertical)

Geri Waza: Kicking Techniques

  1. Front Kick: Mae Geri
  2. Front Snap Kick: Mae Geri Keage
  3. Front Thrust Kick: Mae Geri Kekomi
  4. Side Kick: Yoko Geri
  5. Side Snap Kick: Yoko Geri Keage
  6. Side Thrust Kick: Yoko Geri Kekomi
  7. Back Kick: Ushiro Geri

Uke Waza: Blocking Techniques

  1. Outside Block: Soto Uke
  2. Inside Block: Uchi Uke
  3. Downward Block: Gedan Barai Uke
  4. High Block: Jodan Uke

 Kata: Formal Exercise

  1. Taikyoku Shodan
  2. Taikyoku Nidan
  3. Taikyoku Sandan

 Self Defense

Students will demonstrate a defense for the following attacks:

  1. Wrist Grabs: straight, cross and two handed grabs
  2. Lapel Grabs: one and two handed
  3. Hair Grab

 Ippon Kumite

Students will demonstrate one step defenses for the following:

  1. Lunge Punch
  2. Overhead Strike
  3. Front Kick
  4. Side Kick

**Orange Belt

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of three months time in grade as Ro-Kyu.

 General Knowledge

Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation belt ranking system by belt colors. (Japanese terminology for ranks through 10th Dan will be required for advancement to Ni-Kyu.

 WAZA – Techniques

Students will demonstrate the following techniques.

Ate-Waza: Hand Techniques

  1. Knifehand Strike: Shuto Uchi
  2. Elbow Strike: Hiji Uchi (all directions)
  3. Inverted Fist Punch:

Geri-Waza: Kicking Techniques

  1. Round Kick: Mawashi Geri
  2. Knee Kick: Hiza Geri
  3. Cresent Kick:
  1. Jumping Front Kick: Mae Tobi Geri
  2. Reverse Round Kick: Gyaku Mawashi Geri

Uke-Waza: Blocking Techniques

  1. Palm Heel Block: Shotei Uke
  2. Wrist Block: Koken Uke
  3. Knifehand Block: Shuto Uke

 
Kata: Formal Exercises

  1. Taikyoku Yondan
  2. Naihanchi Shodan
  3. Taikyoku Godan

 Self Defense

Students will demonstrate a defense for the following attacks:

  1. Basic Punch
  2. Head Lock
  3. Arm Twist
  4. Rear Choking (with arm)
  5. Full Nelson

 Ippon Kumite

Students will demonstrate a one-step defense for the below listed attacks. Also, increased proficiency will be demonstrated for previous listed attacks:

  1. Reverse Punch
  2. Round Kick

**Green Belt

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of five months time in grade as Go-Kyu.

 General Knowledge

  1. Clear knowledge of fundamental "key" points of techniques and how to perform with maximum efficiency.
  2. Understanding of "Atemi" and the correct methods of sticking the below listed target areas:

 General Terminology

Students should show increased proficiency and knowledge of terms at Yellow Belt level including names of various techniques. Students should also be familiar with terms listed below:

  1. Striking of the bodys vital points: Atemi
  2. Way of the Warrior: Bushido
  3. Martial Ways: Budo
  4. Way of Life: Do
  5. Heian: Peaceful Mind
  6. Applications of Kata: Bunkai
  7. One Step Sparring: Ippon Kumite
  8. Three Step Sparring: Sanbon Kumite
  9. Free Exercise: Juji Kumite

WAZA – Techniques

Students will demonstrate the following techniques.

Kamae: Postures

  1. Forward Stance: Zenkutsu Dachi
  2. Back Stance: Kokutsu Dachi
  3. Horse Stance: Kiba Dachi
  4. Cat Stance: Nekoashi Dachi
  5. Narrow Fighting Stance (hour-glass stance): Sanchin Dachi

Ate Waza: Hand Techniques

  1. Back Fist Strike: Haishu Uchi
  2. Ridgehand Strike: Haito Uchi
  3. Four Finger Spearhand: Yonhon Uchi
  4. Heel Hand Strike: Teisho Uchi
  5. Hammerfist Strike: Kentsui Uchi

Geri Waza: Kicking Techniques

  1. Heel Kick: Kakato Geri
  2. Turning Rear Kick: Tenkan Ushiro Geri
  3. Turning Heel Kick: Tenkan Kakato Geri
  4. Jumping Side Kick: Yoko Tobi Geri
  5. Cutting Kick: Fumikiri Geri
  6. Stomping Kick: Fumikomi Geri

Nage Waza: Throwing Techniques

  1. Major Outside Reaping Throw: O Soto Gari
  2. Advancing Foot Sweep: De Ashi Harai
  3. Gathering Foot Sweep: Okuri Ashi Harai
  4. Minor Outside Reaping Throw: Ko Soto Gari
  5. Major Inside Reaping Throw: O Uchi Gari
  6. Minor Inside Reaping Throw: Ko Uchi Gari
  7. One Arm Shoulder Throw: Ippon Seoi Nage

Ukemi Waza: Breaking Falling Techniques

Student should demonstrate proficiency with basic Ukemi.

Kata: Formal Exercise (including all previous Kata)

  1. Naihanchi Nidan
  2. Heian Shodan (Heian mean "peaceful mind")
  3. Heian Nidan

Juji-Kumite: Free Exercise

Student should demonstrate basic level sparring skills exercising control and timing. Emphasis should be on a "give and take" approach between partners.

**Brown Belt (3rd)

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of five months time in grade as Go-Kyu.

General Knowledge

  1. Intermediate level knowledge of the basic physic of Karate, or "what makes Karate work".
  2. Ability to teach beginning level students basic skills.
  3. Intermediate level skill of one and two step sparring and combination techniques.
  4. Japanese terminology for all techniques required for this and previous ranks.
  5. Further understanding of Atemi and the correct methods of striking the below listed target areas:

 WAZA – Techniques

Students will demonstrate the following techniques:

Kamae: Posture

  1. Masubi Dachi: Informal Attention Stance (feet at 45o angle)
  2. Heisoku Dachi: Attention Stance (feet completely together)
  3. Fudo Dachi: Rooted Stance

Ate Waza: Hand Techniques

  1. Ren Tsuke: Alternate Punching
  2. Dan Tsuki: Consecutive Punching (with same hand)

Geri Waza: Kicking Techniques

  1. Hook Kick: Kaki Geri
  2. Turning Back Hook Kick: Tenkan Ushiro Kaki Geri
  3. Jumping Round Kick: Mawashi Tobi Geri
  4. Jump Turning Back Kick: Tenkan Ushiro Tobi Geri
  5. Turning Outside Cresent Kick: Tenkan Soto Mikazuki Geri
  6. Alternate Kicking (in combination using both legs): Ren Geri
  7. Consecutive Kicking (with same leg): Dan Geri

Uke Waza: Blocking Techniques

  1. Wedge Block (from Heian Nidan [hands closed], and Heian Yondan [hands open])
  2. Simultaneous blocking and striking

Nage Waza: Throwing Techniques

  1. Neck Throw: Kubi Nage
  2. Four-corner Directional Throw: Shiho Nage

Ukemi Waza: Break-falling techniques

Student should be able to demonstrate all basic Ukemi with increased proficiency.

Kansetsu Waza: Joint Manipulation

  1. Straight Armbar: Wake Gatami
  2. Outward Turning Wristbend: Kote Gaeshi
  3. Basic Wristbend: Kote Hineri
  4. Rolling Armbar: Ikkaijo
  5. Half-turning Wristbend: Nikaijo
  6. Coiled Wristbend: Sankaijo
  7. Ulna Manipulation: Yonkaijo
  8. Leaf turning Wristbend: Kanoe Gaeshi
  9. Coiled Armbar: Ude Garami

Kata: Formal Exercise

  1. Naihanchi Sandan
  2. Heian Sandan
  3. Heian Yondan

Kumite: Free Exercise

Student should demonstrate intermediate level sparring techniques.

**Brown Belt (2nd)

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of four months time in grade as San-Kyu.
  6. Demonstrated willingness to assume responsibilities as an "assistant" to the instructor teaching primarily beginning students.

General Knowledge

  1. Ability to explain and demonstrate primary important points in the study of Karate (form, balance and center of gravity, power and speed, concentration of power, role of muscular power, rhythm, timing, lower abdomen and hips, discipline of training and the development of character).
  2. Understanding of basic First Aid for common dojo injuries.
  3. A written essay on "The Art of Karate and Its Meaning in Everyday life".
  4. Japanese terminology for all techniques required for this and previous ranks.

Demonstration of the following:

  1. Improved ability on all previous rank requirements, to include all techniques, terminology and knowledge, one and three step Kumite, Juji Kumite, and self defense. This test will include all previous testing requirements.
  2. Defensive Skills against multiple attackers.
  3. Interpretation of the applications within Kata as applicable in Self-Defense.

Tameshiwari: Power Demonstration

Student should demonstrate basic breaking skills with both hand and foot techniques. Proper "kime" (focus) and technique at this level is the primary concern regarding tameshiwari.

Kansetsu Waza: Joint Manipulation

Student will demonstrate improved ability to effectively utilize Kansetsu Waza in a self-defense application. See San-Kyu requirements for list of required techniques.

Nage Waza: Throwing Techniques

Student will demonstrate improved ability to effectively utilize Nage Waza in a self-defense application. See San-Kyu requirements for list of required techniques.

Self-Defense:

Students will demonstrate a defense against the following attacks. Also, the student should be familiar with "minimum force" techniques against all previously listed self-defense requirements.

  1. Front and Rear Bear Hug (with arms held and free)
  2. Headlock (front and rear)
  3. Hair Grab from rear
  4. Front Kick
  5. Side Kick
  6. Round Kick
  7. Turning Kicks
  8. Club Attacks

Kata: Formal Exercise

  1. Heian Godan
  2. Bassai-dai (Bassai means "to break down the fortress")

**Brown Belt (1st)

General Requirements

  1. Sound moral character.
  2. No age requirement.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.
  5. Minimum of five months time in grade as Ni-Kyu.
  6. Demonstrated willingness to assume responsibilities as an "assistant" to the instructor teaching primarily beginning students.

 General Knowledge

  1. Students are required to read the following books and present a 500 work report on the philosophy and history of Karate-do.
  1. Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi
  2. Weaponless Warriors by Richard Kim
  1. Students must know the entire belt rank system in include color or belts, Japanese terminology for each rank, step of development, and significance of each belt rank.
  2. Ability to explain the relationship of Karate and physical fitness.
  3. Japanese terminology for all techniques required for this and previous ranks.

Demonstration of the following:

  1. Improved ability on all previous rank requirements, to include all techniques, terminology and knowledge, one and three step Kumite, Juji Kumite, and self defense. This test will include all previous testing requirements.
  2. Defensive Skills against multiple attackers.
  3. Interpretation of the applications within Kata as applicable in Self-Defense.

Uke Waza: Blocking Techniques

  1. Hand Pressing Block: Te Osae Uke
  2. Hand Sweeping Block: Te-nagashi Uke
  3. Reverse Wedge Block: Kakiwake Uke

Ippon Kumite: One Step Engagements

Advanced ability to defend against attacks and advanced ability with combination techniques.

Juji Kumite: Free Exercise

 Advanced level of endurance and the ability to spar with multiple opponents.Advanced level of endurance and the ability to spar with multiple opponents.

Kata: Formal Exercise

Advanced level of Kata performance should be noted at this level with all previous required Kata:

  1. Bassai-sho
  2. Konku-sho

Tameshiwari: Power Demonstration

Student should show advanced power and focus and the ability to perform advanced and multiple breaks.

Self-Defense:

Students will demonstrate defenses against the following knife attacks.

  1. Straight thrust
  2. Slash
  3. Overhead
  4. Upper Cut
  5. Knife at throat with lapel grab (against a wall and in open area)
  6. Knife held at throat from rear
  7. Knife held against the back from rear

**First Degree Black Belt

  1. Sound moral character
  2. Minimum age of 16 for for "senior" black belt. Juniors may test for "junior" black belt, but upon reaching the age of 16 may be required to retest for senior level black belt. This will be at the instructor’s discretion.
  3. Regular dojo attendance.
  4. Minimum of six months time in grade as Ik-Kyu.
  5. Member in good standing with the Shihan-Ryu Institute or United States Martial Arts Federation.

General Knowledge

  1. Understanding the concept of Karate-do as a lifelong art.
  2. Ability to explain the strengths and weaknesses of techniques learned to this point.
  3. Ability to move and explain the key points of movement when transitioning from one stance to another,
  4. Ability to explain the role of the Martial Arts Instructor, and the student/instructor relationship.
  5. Ability to explain "What is Karate-do" in a comprehensive manner.
  6. Student should show advanced knowledge of Japanese terminology to include all previous techniques and terms.

Demonstration of the following:

Students will be tested on all previous rank requirements and should show advanced skill level on all techniques, including self-defense, Ippon and Sanbon Kumite, Juji Kumite, etc. Testing may take more than one day to complete.

Kata: Formal Exercise

  1. Konku-dai
  2. One additional black belt level kata from the following list:
  1. Chinto
  2. Gojushiho
  3. Jion
  4. Nijushiho

 

©Audrea2005