Karate is like hot water: if you don't give it constant heat, it will get cold. - Gichin Funakushi
When you've reached the top of the mountain, keep climbing - Chinese proverb
Don't be afraid of advancing slowly, only of stopping. - Chinese proverb
Originally, there were two belt colors. The white belt to identify students, and the black belt to identify teachers. Over time, the levels have multiplied. This makes it easier for instructors to distinguish between levels, and provides extra motivation for students.
9th Kyu - White
Some people say that a white belt is the absence of rank. Think again! The practitioner has taken a very important step. He has made a commitment.
It's at this stage that he learns his first kata (heian shodan), his first techniques and the art of working in pairs. What he learned there would stay with him for the rest of his life.
We also learn the Junro shodan kata.
8th Kyu - Yellow
The first level is successfully completed. We start learning the Heian nidan kata and the techniques are beginning to be combined.
We continue learning the Junro shodan kata.
7th Kyu - Orange
Once the practitioner has reached this grade, a certain confidence is gained. We learn heian sandan, junro nidan and new techniques.
6th Kyu - Green
This level is challenging. We're still learning new techniques and the 4th kata in the heian series (heian yondan). The practitioner must be increasingly autonomous in his learning. Not that they must learn on their own, but they're no longer held by the hand. This is often a difficult stage.
We continue to practice junro shodan and nidan.
The grading up to blue is done with Sensei Katsumata.
5th Kyu - Blue or First Blue
What a great source of pride! When the practitioner reaches this grade, a new motivation follows. Heian godan is practised, the combinations of techniques are more complex and work in pairs intensifies. Complementary katas are introduced.
Junro shodan, nidan and sandan are practised.
4th Kyu - Second Blue or Purple
At this stage, we begin to follow the advanced belts more closely. We practice several katas and learn Tekki Shodan for the next grade.
Junro shodan, nidan and sandan continue to be practised.
3rd Kyu - Brown or First Brown
You start to realize that the more you learn, the less you know. You must be very assiduous in your classes to keep progressing.
We start practising Bassai Dai and other more complex katas.
Junro Yondan is added to the series.
2nd Kyu - Brown or Second Brown
You need to master all the previous katas to move up to the next grade. The progression to the first kyu will be a bit like a practice for the promotion to black because it will be done at an AKS camp and not in the dojo.
Junro godan is added to the learning process, without forgetting the 4 others.
1st Kyu - Brown or Third Brown
The ultimate kyu before shodan!
A decisive step. You're almost a black belt, but not quite. Often, a little extra nervousness is associated with it. Don't be discouraged, it's normal.
You choose the kata you want to present for your shodan passage. You must master all your previous katas, as well as all the Junros. Show that you are worthy of the "Black Belt" throughout the entire course.
Passage to the black belt must take place at a camp.
Shodan - Black Belt or First Dan
What an achievement after so many years of practice. They say that when you get your shodan, that's when you start doing karate.
Indeed, it's like graduating from high school. You now know the basics, but very little about life.
Now is not the time to rest, but to work even harder.
Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, Godan, Rokudan, Chushidan, Hachidan, Kudan
Black from 2nd to 9th Dan
The dans reflect perseverance, self-improvement and knowledge.
There's a lot of hard work and years behind each grade.
The katas are complex and the mastery of combat is significant.
Judan - Black Belt, 10th Dan
The tenth dan is an honorary degree often awarded after the death of a karateka. It is awarded to those who have made a great difference in the history of karate.