How Many Belts in Karate: Understanding the Belt System

Karate is a martial art that has been around for centuries. It is a discipline that teaches self-defense, mental and physical fortitude, and personal growth. One of the most recognizable symbols of karate is the belt. The karate belt system is an important aspect of the discipline and represents the progression of a student as they advance through the ranks. In this blog post, we will delve into how many belts are in karate and what each one represents.

The Origin of the Karate Belt System

Before we dive into how many belts are in karate, let’s first take a look at the history of the belt system itself. The karate belt system was first introduced in the early 20th century by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Kano began using colored obi (belts) to signify a student’s ranking in his martial arts school. This system was later adopted by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate.

Funakoshi introduced a system of ranks that was based on the kyū/dan system used in Japanese martial arts. The kyū/dan system is a ranking system that assigns different levels of proficiency in a specific martial art. The system is commonly used in many martial arts disciplines, including karate.

The Karate Belt System

The karate belt system consists of two types of ranks: kyu (student ranks) and dan (black belt ranks). The kyu ranks are white, orange, blue, yellow, green, and brown. There are typically ten kyu ranks before a student can progress to the black belt dan ranks. The dan ranks are assigned in degrees, with the first degree being the lowest and the tenth degree being the highest.

Kyu Ranks and Belt Colors

Each kyu rank in karate is associated with a different belt color. The belt colors progress from white to brown, with brown being the highest-ranking kyu belt. Below is a list of the kyu ranks and their belt colors:

  • 10th Kyu – White Belt
  • 9th Kyu – White Belt with Yellow Stripe
  • 8th Kyu – Yellow Belt
  • 7th Kyu – Orange Belt
  • 6th Kyu – Green Belt
  • 5th Kyu – Blue Belt
  • 4th Kyu – Purple Belt
  • 3rd Kyu – Brown Belt with a White Stripe
  • 2nd Kyu – Brown Belt with a Black Stripe
  • 1st Kyu – Brown Belt

The kyu ranks are used to represent a student’s progress and development in karate. Each rank has its requirements and standards that the student must meet before they can progress to the next level.

Dan Ranks

The dan ranks in karate are reserved for students who have achieved a level of proficiency and understanding of the discipline. The dan ranks are divided into degrees, with each degree representing a higher level of knowledge and expertise. The first dan is the lowest, while the tenth dan is the highest.

The progression of dan ranks is not as clearly defined as the kyu ranks. The requirements for each level of proficiency are dependent on the specific karate style and the governing body that oversees the grading process. A student’s dedication, skill, and experience are considered when awarding dan ranks.

Frequently Asked Questions About Karate Belts

Karate is a popular martial art that is practiced all over the world, with millions of people participating in it. One of the most intriguing aspects of karate is the colored belt system, which indicates a person’s skill and progress in training. If you are new to karate or considering starting this martial art, you may have questions about the different levels of belts and what they represent. In this blog post, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about karate belts.

What Are the Different Colors of Karate Belts?

Karate belts are usually organized by a color system to mark the progress of the student. The colors of belts vary between styles but are generally as follows:

– White
– Yellow
– Orange
– Green
– Blue
– Purple
– Brown
– Black

How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt?

The amount of time it takes to get a black belt in karate is dependent on a lot of factors, including the style of karate and how often you train. Although it can take years of practice to reach the level of a black belt, it’s important to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination.

What Is The Purpose of Colored Belts in Karate?

Karate belts signify levels of progress and experience, and they serve as a symbol of accomplishment. Colored belts provide a way to track the progress of the student and allow instructors to tailor their teachings to specific skill levels.

Do All Karate Schools Use the Same Belt System?

No, not all karate schools or styles follow the same belt system. Some adhere to a more traditional belt system, while others have unique belt ranking systems. It’s essential to understand where the school’s belt system originates to ensure you understand the ranking protocol.

Do You Have to Start with a White Belt?

Most schools require beginners to start with a white belt, signifying the start of their training journey. However, some schools may award a different colored belt to students who demonstrated previous martial arts training or attend a karate school with a background in another art.

Can You Skip Belts in Karate?

No, you cannot skip belts in karate. Advancement in belt ranking takes time and dedication, and the skills attained at each level are essential for progression. Skipping ahead may result in not fully grasping skills or techniques needed for the next level.

What Happens Once You Reach a Black Belt?

Once you reach the level of black belt, it is not the end of your karate training journey. Many schools have a series of advanced black belt levels or Dan rankings to signify the highest levels of mastery.

Can You Wear a Karate Belt in Day-to-Day Life?

Yes, you can, but it’s not customary. In some cases, people may wear their karate belts outside of the dojo to showcase their accomplishments or to instill a sense of pride in what they have achieved.

How Many Belts Are There in Karate?


Karate is a martial art that originated in Japan and has become popular worldwide. One of the most recognizable features of karate is the colored belt system that is used to indicate a practitioner’s level of skill and experience. If you are new to karate or considering taking it up, you may be wondering how many belts there are, what they represent, and how to progress from one to the other. In this article, we will provide a detailed guide to the karate belt system, including the number of belts and what each one signifies.

Karate Belt System

The karate belt system is a series of colored belts that a practitioner progresses through as they improve their skills and knowledge in the art. There are typically ten colored belts in total, ranging from white to black. The exact number of belts can vary depending on the martial arts school that you attend, but ten belts is the most common.

Here is a breakdown of the karate belt system and what each belt represents:

White Belt

The white belt is the starting point for all karate students. It signifies that the student is new to the art and has not yet acquired any specific skills or knowledge.

Yellow Belt

The yellow belt is the second belt in the karate system and is earned after several months of training. It signifies that the student has started to develop some basic skills and knowledge.

Orange Belt

The orange belt is the third belt in the karate system, earned after several more months of training. It signifies that the student has progressed to a point where they have a good understanding of basic techniques and can start to apply them in sparring.

Green Belt

The green belt is the fourth belt in the karate system and indicates that the student is starting to become proficient in the basics of karate.

Blue Belt

The blue belt is the fifth belt in the karate system and is indicative of a higher level of proficiency in the art. A blue belt holder has demonstrated an understanding of more advanced techniques and has developed a greater level of physical fitness.

Purple Belt

The purple belt is the sixth belt in the karate system and is a sign that the student is now considered to be an advanced practitioner of karate.

Brown Belt

The brown belt is the seventh belt in the karate system and is a sign that the student is now approaching expert-level in the art of karate.

Black Belt

The black belt is the highest rank in the karate belt system and is a sign that the student has reached a level of mastery in the art. A black belt can take years to achieve.

How to Progress Through the Belt System

To progress through the karate belt system, you will need to attend classes regularly, put in the required practice time and learn the techniques and skills associated with each belt level. Karate schools often have a curriculum that outlines what is required for each belt level, as well as specific criteria for testing and grading.

Typically, before you can earn a new belt, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in the techniques and skills required for that level. This may involve taking a written test, doing a demonstration in front of your instructor, or participating in sparring matches with other students.


Karate is a disciplined and rewarding martial art that has an established belt system to indicate skill level. Understanding the karate belt system and what each level represents is an essential step for any practitioner. Remember to attend classes regularly, take the time to learn and practice the required techniques and skills, and ask plenty of questions of your instructor along the way. With dedication and effort, you too can progress through the karate belt system and advance your skills and knowledge in the art.

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