The Shotokan Karate has a Ranking or Grading system for the karateka or the student. This Ranking or Grading is required to determine the level of the karateka or the student. The Ranking or Grading is given to the karateka upon giving the test. The test will be taken by the master who will not be the instructor/trainer of the student. The exam will have a syllabus according to the belt ranking. Many people don’t know that a black belt also has a ranking or degree. The ranking or grading in the belts up to brown is called “Kyu” and the Black Belt degrees are called “Dan”. Karate doesn’t stop at black belt, It is just the beginning. The order is as follows:
1. White Belt (9th Kyu)
This is the basic grade for any beginner, everybody who joins karate must have to start from the white belt. In white belt, the karateka is made to practice the basics which are punches, blocks, chops, elbows, basic kicks that are slap kick and thrust kick, first and second kata which are taikyoku-shodan and taikyoku-Sandan. The karateka will be made to practice this syllabus for at least three months. After that, he will have to give a belt test of a higher ranking.
2. Yellow Belt (8th Kyu)
This belt comes after the white belt. In the yellow belt, the karateka is made to practice the basics which is known as kihon, with additional round horse kick, sidekick, and the third kata namely Heian-Shodan. The karateka must be good enough of what he learned to pass the belt test.
3. Orange Belt (7th Kyu)
This belt is the successor grading of the yellow belt. In the Orange belt, the syllabus of the karateka is added with a front sidekick and the fourth kata namely Heian-Nidan. The karateka must be perfect in Kihon to pass the belt test.
4. Green Belt (6th Kyu)
The successor belt of orange is the green belt. The syllabus for the karateka of the green belt is added with a back kick and the fifth kata namely Heian-Sandan. This belt is also known as the half-black belt.
5. Purple Belt (5th Kyu)
This belt comes after the green belt. The syllabus for the karateka in the purple belt is added with a spinning kick and 6th and 7th kata namely Heian yondan, Heian godan. The test will be the turning point for the karateka as he will be entering into the high-level belt.
6. Brown Belt (4th Kyu, 3rd Kyu, 2nd Kyu, 1st Kyu)
This belt comes after the purple belt. The brown belt consists of 4 Kyus or 4 levels. This is displayed by the stripes on the belt. The karateka will have to give 4 tests on the brown belt. This syllabus for the Karateka in the brown belt is added with the eighth kata namely Tekki Shodan, the ninth kata Tekki Nidan, the tenth kata Tekki Sandan, and the eleventh kata Bassai Dai. It is assumed by many masters that the brown belt karatekas are much stronger and faster than the black belts. The karateka must be perfect in everything he learned to get the black belt.
7. Black Belt (1st Dan – 9th Dan)
The exam for the black belt is very tough with a duration of 10 to 18 hours. As the level of the black belt increases the duration of the test also increases. Many people don’t know that there are degrees in the black belts which are displayed by stripes until the fifth Dan and then with the combination of the red and black color belt from the sixth Dan until the ninth Dan. Many new katas, kicks, Kihon, and techniques are introduced into the syllabus. When the karateka enters the black belt he now becomes a Master.
8. Red Belt (10th Dan)
This is the ultimate destination of a highly dedicated karateka. This master of this degree will become the Grand Master This is achieved by a few masters. Masters become old while they try to achieve this degree as it takes much time to get through all the belts. The test will include all from the starting which he learned as a white belt till the ninth Dan. This is why the syllabus is added with new things without removing anything.