Why Are There Nine Different Belt Levels?

The karate belt levels are a way of measuring your progress in karate. There are nine different belt levels.

Each belt indicates how much experience you have in martial arts. The color of the belt is not determined by your age, but your by your skill level and commitment to improving at karate.

Each color represents a new accomplishment and step in your journey to becoming an expert karateka. Understanding these colors will help you learn more about your journey as a martial artist and set yourself up for future success.

The karate belt levels are the stages of progression through which you must go in order to reach a black belt. The higher you get, the more difficult it becomes to progress.

All nine karate belts (with a knot tied in the middle) laid out on top of each other.

Here are all the belts, in order from white to black:

  1. White belt
  2. Yellow belt
  3. Orange belt
  4. Green belt
  5. Blue belt
  6. Purple belt
  7. Brown belt
  8. Red belt
  9. Black belt

White Belt Level

You’ve just finished your first karate class, and you are feeling very proud of yourself. You did great! Your instructor told you that white belt is the beginning of your journey through karate, and you took your first step towards becoming a black belt.

The road to become a black belt isn't easy or short by any means. First, you have to learn how to punch and kick. This will require some hard work on your part, especially if you've never trained martial arts before.

Yellow Belt Level

Yellow belt is the second karate belt level. This is when students typically start to learn kata.

Kata are pre-arranged martial arts forms that help to develop balance, coordination and discipline. The yellow belt signifies the sun and a students willingness to learn and soak up new information.

Orange Belt Level

The Orange Belt is the third karate belt, and it's a great time to begin refining your technique. You'll have a strong foundation of skills to build on as you move up through the ranks.

As an orange belt, you should be able to perform basic blocks and kicks with ease. You should also be able to execute punches using both hands in combination with each other. Your sensei will work with you on developing proper footwork as well as teaching more advanced techniques such as roundhouse kicks that require more balance than simple punches do (and therefore take longer for most beginners).

Green Belt Level

Green belt is the third level of karate. The green belt has a reputation for being a milestone in one's training, as it represents having learned some of the basic techniques and forms needed to defend oneself.

The green belt is also a symbol of progress, as it can take at least one full year to earn one.

Blue Belt Level

Blue belt is the intermediate level. Blue belts are expected to have a better understanding of karate and should be able to defend themselves with basic self-defense techniques. This belt represents an important point in your training where you can begin integrating new concepts into your existing knowledge base and refining your technique.

You will learn new techniques and must pass new tests in order to earn your blue belt. Testing will most likely include instructor evaluation of kata, light sparring, striking techniques, and defense.

Purple Belt Level

Purple belt is a great achievement. You've put in the time and effort to learn your kata, you can break boards without getting hurt, and now you might consider competing in karate!  

Brown Belt Level

The seventh karate belt level is the brown belt. The brown belt requires all the skills and knowledge of a purple belt plus, you'll have a more thorough understanding of the concepts and principles of karate.

You should also gain the ability to apply those concepts in sparring or self-defense situations.

Red Belt Level

Red belt is the eighth highest level of karate belt. It is awarded after a student has mastered all of their previous belts and is ready to move on to the second to last belt before the black belt.

Black Belt Level

Black belts are the highest rank in karate and are the most experienced, skilled and knowledgeable. Senior black belts (who have stripes on their belt) have been training for a long time and have reached their peak as karatekas.

Black belt tied around a white karate gi.

Their knowledge of kata forms and sparring techniques is extensive, which makes them an excellent resource for students who want to learn more about their art form.

Some judo and karate gyms may choose to go beyond that and have multi-colored belts for martial artists who have mastered their art form.

Knowledge, Training, and Discipline

The average time to progress from a beginner white belt, to earning a black belt in karate usually takes most students a minimum of two years. (This can vary pretty widely on a student by student basis.)

Regardless of how long it takes, applying the knowledge you gain and discipline you develop to your training will pay off in the long run when you finally earn the prestigious black belt.