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 - or grading - is carried out by a panel of instructors authorized as JKA technical examiners. We have very specific requirements and procedures for gradings. Belt levels are as follows: Kyu Grades (generally 16 yrs and above): White - Yellow - Orange - Green - Blue - Purple - Brown (three levels) - Black (Dan gradings). Junior Grades: Dinky Stripes - White - Yellow 1 - Yellow 2 - Orange 1 - Orange 2 - Green 1 - Green 2 - Blue 1 - Blue 2 - Purple 1 - Purple 2 - Red (up to 3 levels) - Junior Brown (three levels) - Junior Black (three levels). 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 is - Is the student is mature enough to stand up to the pressure of training in a senior adult black belt class? If not, they would be deemed to still be Juniors and would be awarded Junior Brown or black. This rarely happens however, since they are normally of an age to go to senior gradings when they reach that belt level. As a general rule, with very few exceptions, our karateka are only allowed to attempt Shodan (1st Dan) when they are AT LEAST 15-16 years of age. At that point they are suitably mature enough to be Senior Black belts. Where necessary in the case of very young students (6-7 and younger) the Dinky Belt system may be used - where each of these colour stripes are awarded on the white belt prior to going to a Junior Yellow belt. In slightly older students, they usually grade from White to Yellow 1. All Junior belt levels comprise of two levels. For example, Yellow 1 and Yellow 2, Orange 1 and Orange 2., etc Junior belts have a white strip throughout the length, purely to denote that they are still on junior grades and hove not yet moved to Kyu grades. Level 1 and level 2 both have just one stripe through the belt. 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! - in which case they would have about 5 years before being able to grade again to full Shodan (1st Dan). If that happens they generally get very bored and lose interest. The additional time also allows them to mature into the belt level and truly master it before moving on. 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 - they do not bypass it and go to Grade 9! 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: White - Yellow - Orange - Minimum three months and 30 classes between gradings Green - Blue - Minimum four months and 40 classes between gradings. 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 as follows: Shodan to Nidan (1st to 2nd) - min 2 years Nidan to Sandan (2nd to 3rd) - min 3 years Sandan to Yondan (3rd to 4th) - min 4 years Yondan to Godan (4th to 5th) - min 5 years Godan to Rokudan (5th to 6th) - min 6 years Rokudan to Nanadan (6th to 7th) - min 7 years etc. 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-trained instructors and examiners carefully study and evaluate each student based on the required criteria.