Gradings and belts


Each grade you achieve is associated with a belt colour – until you become a black belt! There are 20 grades altogether ranging from 10th kyu (queue) (a white belt, the lowest) to 10th dan (dan) (a black belt, the highest) although very few people ever get beyond 6th dan.

Beginner grades start with a higher numbered kyu (10th kyu) and progress toward a lower numbered kyu (1st kyu). Once you have achieved your black belt you will be a 1st dan (shodan, show-dan) and will progress up to the higher dan grades. Kyu-grade karateka (karate-car) are referred to as “coloured belts” or mudansha (mew-dan-sha, ones without dan rank). Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha (you-dan-sha, holders of dan rank). Yudansha wear a black belt often with tabs to indicate the level of dan grade.

You can see an illustration of how to tie the belt in the proper manner below.


We test your prowess in karate at regular gradings. These take place every three months and – provided you’ve attended enough training sessions – you can request to be part of a grading.

You can see more about the requirements under Gradings.

How to tie your belt

How to tie your belt

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