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Belt Ranks -

Belt ranks were adopted from the Kyū/Dan system using a rank scheme with only a limited set of belt colors. In the Kyū/Dan system the beginner grades start with a higher numbered kyū and progress toward a lower numbered kyū. The dan progression then picks up beginning with 1st dan (Shodan, or “beginning dan” ( 初 段 者) shodansha) and up. Kyū-grade karateka are assigned "color belts" and are known as mudansha ( 無 段 者), "ones without dan". Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yūdansha ( 有 段 者 ), "ones with dan” and typically wear a black belt. Yūdansha of the first five dan ranks are normally advanced by examination, although age and time in rank are very important factors.  The subsequent dans (6 and up) are honorary, given for special merits and/or age reached.

* Essentially, kyū is the number of steps “till” reaching mastery
whereas the dan gives steps “into” mastery

White belts Ge-kyū ( 下 段 ) – Lowest or “non-” ranks (are highest number Kyū – “low class”)
Yellow belts Sho-kyū ( 初 級 ) – Beginning ranks (“first class”)
Green belts Chū-kyū ( 中 級 ) – Middle ranks (“middle class”)
Brown belts Jō-kyū ( 上 級 ) – Highest ranks (lowest number Kyū – “upper class”)

In our classes -- Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting all promotions. Kyū ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination with speed and power added at the higher grades. Testing consists of demonstration of techniques before a head instructor or panel of examiners. Requirements of rank differ among styles, organizations, and schools.  Testing could include everything learned to that point (to include kata, self-defense routines, tameshiwari “breaking”, examples of bunkai, and kumite “sparring” and is an “application” for new rank.
"Color" Belt Ranks –
White belt (“No rank” beginner) MU KYU
White belt – one stripe  
White belt – two stripe* (10th rank) JU KYU
Yellow belt (9th rank) KU KYU – Sho Kyu
Yellow belt – one stripe (8th rank) HACHI KYU
Yellow belt – two stripe (7th rank) NANA KYUa youth "orange" belt allowed at this rank
Green belt (6th rank) ROK KYU – Chu Kyu
Green belt – one stripe (5th rank) GO KYU
Green belt – two stripe (4th rank) YON KYU a youth "purple" or pre-brown "blue" belt at this rank
Brown belt (3rd rank) SAN KYU – Jo Kyu
Brown belt – one stripe (2nd rank) NI KYU – some schools allow “gi” colors other than white at this rank
Brown belt – two stripe (1st rank) IK KYU
“Black” Belt – (1ST Dan) SHO DAN: minimum 2 years

 *on occasion a third stripe can be awarded at any kyu-grade for either a very dedicated or mature karateka who may be a long standing student or family elder whose hard work and perseverance needs rewarded and/or respected even though they may not be able to advance through kata and kihon.