Grading System

Karate uses a grading system, known as the Kyu/Dan system that was adopted from Judo in 1924. The Kyu system uses a number of coloured belts to represent different standards of mudansha (one without dan) ability, ranging from 9th kyu as the lowest standard of karateka, to 1st kyu, which precedes black belt (the highest colour belt to be gained).

Once black belt is achieved, the karateka becomes a yudansha (one with dan) and begins to progress from shodan (first dan) through numeric levels of dan. To pass a grading, karateka are required to demonstrate specified kihon techniques, kata and kumite drills.

The standard order of belts and their requisite techniques are as follows:

White – 9th Kyu

Beginners start on white belt and work to acquire the techniques necessary to progress to a coloured belt.

Orange – 8th/7th Kyu

Kihon – To be performed three times each:

  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi (front stance): Oi Tzuki (stomach punch)
  • Moving backwards from zenkutsu dachi: Age Uke (Rising block)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: Soto Uke (Outside block)
  • Moving backwards from Kokutsu dachi (back stance): Shuto Uke (Knife hand block)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: Mae geri (front kick)
  • Moving sideways from zenkutsu dachi: Yoko keagi (side snap kick) kibadachi (horse riding stance)

KataHeian Shodan

KumiteSanbon Kumite (three step sparring) encompassing the following:

  • Attacker: Step in, punch head (three times)
  • Defender: Step backwards, rising block (three times), counter-punch
  • Attacker: Step in, punch stomach (3 times)
  • Defender: Step backwards, outside block (3 times), counter-block

Green – 6th Kyu

Kihon – To be performed three times each:

  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi (front stance): sanbon tzuki (triple punch)
  • Moving backwards from zenkutsu dachi: age uke (rising block), gyaku tzuki (reverse punch)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: sote uke (outside block), empi uchi (elbow strike) kibadachi (horse riding stance)
  • Moving backwards: shuto uke (knife hand block) from kokutsu dachi (back stance), shift to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite (spearhand strike)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: mae geri (front kick) twice
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
  • Moving sideways from zenkutsu dachi: yoko keagi (side snap kick), kibadachi
  • Moving sideways from zenkustsu dachi: yoko kekomi (side thrust kick), kibadachi

KataHeian Sandan

KumiteIppon Kumite (One step sparring), encompassing the following:

  • Attacker: Step in, punch head twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack
  • Attacker: Step in, punch stomach twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack

Purple – 5th/4th Kyu

Kihon – To be performed three times each:

  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: sote uke (outside block), empi uchi (elbow strike) kibadachi (horse riding stance)
  • Moving backwards: shuto uke (knife hand block) from kokutsu dachi (back stance), shift to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite (spearhand strike)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: mae geri (front kick) twice
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
  • Moving sideways from zenkutsu dachi: yoko keagi (side snap kick), kibadachi
  • Moving sideways from zenkustsu dachi: yoko kekomi (side thrust kick), kibadachi

Combinations – Mae geri (front kick), mawashi geri (roundhouse kick), gyaku tzuki (reverse punch)

KataHeian Yondon

KumiteIppon Kumite (One step sparring), encompassing the following:

  • Attacker: Step in, punch head twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack
  • Attacker: Step in, punch stomach twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack

Brown – 3rd/2nd/1st Kyu

Kihon – To be performed three times each:

  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi (front stance): sanbon tzuki (triple punch)
  • Moving backwards from zenkutsu dachi: age uke (rising block), gyaku tzuki (reverse punch
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi (front stance): soto uke (outside block), empi uchi (elbow strike), uraken uchi (backfist strike), kiba dachi (horse riding stance)
  • Moving backwards: shuto uke (knife hand block) from kokutsu dachi (back stance), shift to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite (spearhand strike)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: kizami mae geri (front leg front kick), mae geri (front kick)
  • Moving forwards from zenkutsu dachi: kizami mawashi geri (front leg roundhouse kick), mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
  • Moving sideways from zenkutsu dachi: yoko keagi (side snap kick), kibadachi
  • Moving sideways from zenkustsu dachi: yoko kekomi (side thrust kick), kibadachi

Combinations – Mae geri (front kick), mawashi geri (roundhouse kick), gyaku tzuki (reverse punch) Mawashi geri, yoko kekomi (side thrust with same leg), gyaku tzuki Standing in place, mae geri, yoko keagi

KataTekki Shodan

KumiteIppon Kumite (One step sparring), encompassing the following:

  • Attacker: Step in, punch head twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack
  • Attacker: Step in, punch stomach twice
  • Defender: Any counter attack

Some clubs may also use yellow between white and orange belts and blue belt before purple belt.

Black Belt

With black beltm the karateka achieves Shodan (first dan)

The order of dan are:

  • Shodan – First dan
  • Nidan – Second dan
  • Sandan – Third dan
  • Yondan – Fourth dan
  • Godan – Fifth dan