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Karate Belt: Colors, Grades & FAQ

black belt

Karate belts and the system behind them serve as a method of differentiation in the martial art karate. The level of ability of a student or master can be recognized from the color. This is particularly useful because you can see at a glance what level the other person is on.

Teachers in particular appreciate this. In addition, the karate training can be adapted to the needs of the student based on the belt color. Teachers can teach more purposefully and students can achieve success faster.

In karate, every single color represents a different skill level. As a rule of thumb, you can remember that the darker the color, the higher the degree. With an increasing degree, the demands on the wearer also increase.

How do you get to the next level?

For each individual card-belt test, the karateka must be able to prove that he has understood all the necessary techniques from the corresponding kata and can also implement them.

Because of this, the student has to perform certain elements alone or with a partner in addition to the kata. This type of test is called a bunkai.

black belt
black belt

Student grades (Kyu levels):

Everyone starts in karate with the white belt (9th Kyu). As soon as an exam has been successfully passed, you will be awarded the next karate belt.

As a student, you can advance from 9th Kyu to 1st Kyu. However, the color does not change with each new graduation level. So it stays brown from the 3rd to the 1st Kyu.

Degree 9. Kyu 8. Kyu 7. Kyu 6. Kyu 5. Kyū * 4. Kyū * 3. Kyu 2. Kyu 1. Kyu
colour White yellow orange green blue or purple blue brown brown brown

* Violet and blue are used differently in different associations. Some associations separate the purple 4th kyu from the blue 5th kyu. Others, however, are both blue or both purple. Sometimes the colors can be interchanged at will. Depending on how the association handles the whole thing.

What is the Order of Belts in Karate? Master degrees (Dan degrees):

As soon as you have successfully passed the 1st Kyu, you also get your first black belt. With this you can successfully call the 1st Dan your own.

The first 4 Dan grades are defined as technical. From the 5th Dan onwards, the right master degrees really start. The 5th and 6th Dan is about the degree of knowledge (Kokoro). Then the degree of maturity (Iro Kokoro) is dealt with from 7th to 10th Dan. Because only this allows the karateka to become a “real” master.

Degree 1st Dan 2nd Dan 3rd Dan 4th Dan 5th Dan 6th Dan 7th Dan 8th Dan 9th Dan 10th Dan
colour black black black black black black black black black White-red
designation The seeker for the way The student at the beginning of the path The recognized student The technical expert The knower The knower The maturity The maturity The maturity The maturity

Map belt – what you need to know:

Karate belts are a much bigger topic than you might think at first glance. It’s not just the colors and grades that are interesting. Because when washing you can make some mistakes, tying the karate belt is not easy and you have to be able to determine the correct length.

In the following we will go into all of these points and address other important aspects. It’s worth reading.

How is the belt tied correctly?

The karate belt is usually wrapped around the body twice and then tied tightly at the front using a traditional knot.

Since this binding technique is difficult to explain in words, we have selected a suitable video. There even 2 techniques are explained:

2 possible ways to tie a karate belt.

If you still have trouble tying after watching, you can ask your dojo or your classmates. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you bind.

Newer karate belts are often a bit stiff. The many layers of material and the width of around 4 cm do not make tying any easier. Usually the belt is only flexible enough after many attempts to be able to be tied properly without beads of sweat on the forehead.

What belt length do you need?

Especially as a beginner, it is difficult to determine the correct belt length. Your height can serve as a rough guide. Many manufacturers of karate belts have developed their own tables based on this scheme.

If you are still unsure which size is the right one, you can also try different lengths in the martial arts school. The other students or your dojo will be happy to help you here.

You should see these guidelines as rough guidelines:

  • 1.10 to 1.30 m: approx. 200 cm
  • 1.30 to 1.40 m: approx. 220 cm
  • 1.40 to 1.50 m: approx. 240 cm
  • 1.50 to 1.70 m: approx. 260 cm
  • 1.70 to 1.80 m: approx. 280 cm
  • 1.80 to 1.90 m: approx. 300 cm
  • 1.90 to 2.10 m: approx. 320 cm

What fabric are karate belts made of?

Most karate belts are made of pure cotton. More expensive specimens can also be made of silk. The material makes no difference in durability. Not least because the belt is not exposed to too much stress during training.

Are there any regulations on how the belt must be made?

Usually nobody will tell you what your belt should look like. Of course, the color and width have to be right. But you can customize it.

There are only a few things you need to know to take part in competitions. So it often happens that the organizer makes certain regulations. You should know this. For example, embroidered karate belts are mostly not permitted.

How are karate belts properly washed?

Of course, a belt doesn’t have to be washed regularly. It would even be best to wash it exclusively by hand and in lukewarm water as much as possible.

Fortunately, this annoying procedure is actually spared. Traditionally, karate belts are not washed because they gain experience together with the wearer.

And don’t worry, the belt really doesn’t need regular washing. After all, it is worn on the jacket and hardly gets any sweat.

Can I also buy individual karate belts?

Yes, and the whole thing is relatively uncomplicated. Of course you have to pay a small surcharge to have your karate belt provided with individual fonts, symbols or images.

Usually the amount of font or the complexity of the desired image determines a central role in the price. But the whole thing is worth it.

Of course, you can also embroider simple designs yourself. This is, but not as easy as it sounds.

Characters such as one’s own name or that of the teacher are often used. Either you use the German or the Japanese language, whichever suits you better.

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