The JKA Kyu and Dan Rank Certification System
There are 10 Kyu (coloured belt levels) before achieving Dan levels (black belt).
To obtain certification for each level, you must fulfill the certification requirements
and complete the grading displaying mastery of the syllabus. Testing -
Belt levels are as follows: Kyu Grades (generally 16 yrs and above): White -
Junior Grades: Dinky Stripes -
Juniors may be awarded Junior Brown and Black if they are deemed to be of a high
enough standard but too young for Senior Dan gradings. A good way to think of this
Where necessary in the case of very young students (6-
We never skip a belt level regardless of how “good” the karateka is. This is because
juniors take longer to master techniques and need that time to mature. It also serves
to slow down their gradings so that they are not Junior Black 3 at 11 years old!
Competition is to determine who is “best” Grading is to determine if the karateka
has mastered the required techniques and has improved since the last grading. Exceptional
performance may attain a “Highly Recommended’ grading but will not result in skipping
a belt level. For example if at the end of an academic year, such as Grade 7, even
if the student achieves straight A’s they would still only move to Grade 8 -
Coloured and Dinky Belt gradings are conducted in the dojo by a qualified examiner as and when the karateka meet the specified requirements as opposed to predetermined dates for gradings during the course of the year. As the karateka reach their requirements and are assessed to be ready, a grading is scheduled. Each belt level has its own requirements. As a basic guideline:
However, these are only minimum guidelines. In addition, each karateka is assessed to determine whether they are in fact ready to attempt the next grading. This is also a good incentive to keep the karateka training consistently and to teach them that what you put in, is what you get out. Karateka training regularly and consistently will obviously progress quicker than those who don’t.
Purple and Brown belt gradings are conducted at Area Level under the auspices of the Karate Syndicate senior grading panel. A total of three gradings are scheduled for the year but only two of the three may be attended.
Dan, or black belt gradings, are conducted nationally twice a year. In order to be
eligible for testing, you must first have gained the appropriate amount of continuous
experience at your current rank. The minimum time period between Dan gradings is
Shodan to Nidan (1st to 2nd) -
Nidan to Sandan (2
Sandan to Yondan (3
Yondan to Godan (4
Godan to Rokudan (5
Rokudan to Nanadan (6
In addition, Dan grading candidates are also required to meet other criteria such as attending a certain number of seminars, officiating as table official or referee at tournaments etc. There are also minimum ages for certain Dan levels.
Very high grades are attempted at the discretion of the Chief Instructor and depending on the level of Dan being graded for, the karateka may have to take the test outside of their own country or region (at the higher Dan ranks, only Tokyo JKA HQ is authorized to evaluate, grade and issue certification).
To progress to the next Kyu or Dan, JKA students must demonstrate exceptional skill
and near flawless execution of a prescribed set of techniques and kata. Specially-