What are the belts (ranks) in karate and how long does it take to reach them?

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).