Beginning students first go through the “kyu” ranks. Students typically rise in rank by one kyu every 4 to 6 months. Kyu ranks and the color belts that go with them are:
- White belt – 9th kyu
- Yellow belt – 8b kyu, 8 kyu
- Orange belt – 7b kyu, 7 kyu
- Green belt – 6b kyu, 6 kyu
- Purple belt – 5b kyu thru 4 kyu
- Brown belt – 3b kyu thru 1st kyu
One year after students attain 1st kyu, they may then start testing for “dan” (black belt) ranks. Students who train regularly typically require 2 to 3 years to reach the first level (Shodan) of black belt. Each succeeding black belt level requires increasingly more time to attain. For example, it generally takes at least 2 years to go from Shodan (1st degree) to Nidan (2nd degree), at least 3 years between Nidan and Sandan (3rd degree), and at least 4 years between Sandan and Yondan (4th degree).