December 10

How to Know What Belt You Are

You probably think it’s pretty easy to tell what belt or rank you are. And you’re right.

martial arts beltsBut there’s a little more to it than just the color that’s tied around your waist (see: How To Tie Your Belt).

In many martial arts systems, students wear either belts or sashes. Metamora Martial Arts uses belts, so that’s what we’ll stick with here.

Belts are divided simply as colored belts – kyu ranks – and black belts – dan ranks.

Within each of those, you can break down the ranks even further. For example, colored belts have multiple colors, and black belts have multiple degrees.

In our system, we use six colored belts at each stage. I will list them out here followed by how you would say it in Japanese.

  1. White (hachikyu)
  2. Yellow (shichikyu)
  3. Blue (rokukyu)
  4. Green (gokyu)
  5. Purple (yonkyu)
  6. Purple (sankyu)
  7. Purple (nikyu)
  8. Brown (ikkyu)

The Japanese numbering system for kyu ranks counts backwards from black belt. A brown belt, for example, is one step away from a black belt (ichi is one, so ikkyu is one rank), while a green belt is five steps away (go is five in Japanese).

Within each of the colored belts, we typically break it down even further. For example, white through green belts will earn three stripes on their belts before being promoted to the next one. In other words, white belts must earn three stripes before attaining a yellow belt.

Students earn these stripes by being taught and then practicing the requirements for each rank. Tests will be announced well in advance so that a student has a chance to earn a promotion.

Note that martial arts schools across the world have different belt systems in place, and ours is just one example.

Unlike colored belt ranks, the numbers go in sequential order starting at the dan ranks, starting from first-degree all the way through 10th-degree. I’m a nidan – a second-degree black belt – and ni is Japanese for two.

As a sign of respect, black belts should be addressed at least by using Mr., Mrs., Miss and then that person’s last name, unless they say otherwise. Many teachers prefer to be called by their teaching title. Frequently, you’ll hear this as “Sensei (first or last name here).” You may also hear such titles as joshu, deshi, kyoshi, hanshi, o’sensei, master, grandmaster, and more.

Tip: In Japan, this formal title is actually placed after the person’s last name. For example, one of our alumni is teaching in Japan, and is referred to as “Katch-sensei.”

Bonus tip: Some view referring to yourself as a sensei as being amateurish.

I will post a future blog that talks a little bit more about the history of the belts. This was meant as an introduction to belts and ranks, and I hope I’ve provided that for you.

Now that you’ve read a little bit more about our belts, do you have any questions? Leave a comment, as others may be wondering the same thing.

January 21

Black belt requirements

These are the requirements for high school students and adults working toward their black belts. They will all be performed at the black belt test.

Kata

  • Tai Kyoku Kumi
  • Wansu, all 3 levels
  • Anaku, all 3 levels
  • Naihanchi Sho, all 3 levels
  • Empi Sho, all 3 levels
  • Sanchin, all 3 levels
  • Bassai Dai, all 3 levels
  • Tsue Sho, all 3 levels
  • Go Pei Sho, all 3 levels
  • Dan Enn Sho, all 3 levels

Wazas

  • Ippons 1-15, 8 directions (with and without attackers)
  • Taezus 1-10, 8 directions (with and without attackers)
  • Kihons 1-10, 8 directions (with and without attackers)

Self-defenses

1-24, in all directions

Judo

  • All throws
  • All sweeps
  • All locks
  • All pins

Other requirements

All punching, blocking, stancing, kicking techniques

35 combination attacks

Animal Forms

  • Crane
  • Snake
  • Tiger
  • Leopard
  • Dragon

Exam

  • Written exam
  • Oral exam
  • Black belt thesis

Sparring & Grappling

  • Form sparring (kata kumite), 4 minutes
  • Stance-focus sparring (kime-dachi kumite), 4 minutes
  • Combat strategy
  • Various forms of grappling and sparring strategy used in different matches

Physical requirements

  • 50 perfect pushups
  • 75 crunches
  • 200 jump rope
  • kick to head level
  • 5 minutes of speed punching
  • hold 4 kicks for 30 seconds at waist level
  • 75 repetitions in 3 directions with 15-pound dumbbells (males) or 10-pounds (females)
January 21

Red/black belt requirements

These are the requirements for high school students and adults working as red belts toward their red/black belts. The students at this stage will be the highest ranks under black belts.

1st stripe

Go Pei Sho kata, 1st level

Tsue Sho bo kata, 1st level

Ippons 13-15

Taezus 1-10, out of kiba dachi

Kihons 1-10, out of kiba dachi

Self defenses

1-8 from the back

Judo

kosoto gake (small outer hook)

2nd stripe

Go Pei Sho kata, 2nd level

Tsue Sho bo kata, 2nd level

Ippons 1-15, 4 directions

Taezus 1-10, 4 directions

Kihons 1-10, 4 directions

Self defenses

9-16 from the back

Judo

sumi gaeshi (corner throw)

3rd stripe

Go Pei Sho kata, 3rd level

Tsue Sho bo kata, 3rd level

Ippons 1-15, 8 directions

Taezus 1-10, 8 directions

Kihons 1-10, 8 directions

30 combination attacks

Self defenses

17-24 from the back

Judo

hiza guruma (knee wheel) to sasae tsurikomi ashi (supporting foot lift-pull throw)

Sparring

  • Form sparring (kata kumite), 3 minutes 30 seconds
  • Stance-focus sparring (kime-dachi kumite), 3 minutes 30 seconds

Physical requirements

  • 40 pushups
  • 70 crunches
  • 175 jump rope
  • kick to neck
  • 4 minutes 30 seconds of speed punching
  • 55 repetitions in 3 directions with 15-pound dumbbells (males) or 10-pounds (females)
January 21

Red belt requirements

These are the requirements for high school students and adults working as brown belts toward their red belts.

1st stripe

New techniques

  • inside knife block
  • arm breaking techniques
  • groin tears
  • gedan uke strike
  • mountain punch
  • reverse low block pull
  • double middle block

Bassai Dai, 1st level

Ippons 11-12

Taezus 9-10

Kihons 1-10, out of kiba dachi

Self defenses

  1. club
  2. gun

Judo

  • Escape from yoko shiho gatame
  • Escape from kesa gatame

2nd stripe

Bassai Dai, 2nd level

Ippons 1-12, 4 directions

Taezus 1-10, 4 directions

Kihons 1-10, 2 directions

Self defenses

1-12 from both sides

Judo

tai otoshi (body drop)

3rd stripe

Bassai Dai, 3rd level
Ippons 1-12, 8 directions
Taezus 1-10, 8 directions
Kihons 1-10, 4 directions
Crane animal forms
25 combination attacks

Self defenses

13-24 from both directions

Judo

uchi mata (inner-thigh reaping throw)

Sparring

  • Form sparring (kata kumite), 3 minutes
  • Stance-focus sparring (kime-dachi kumite), 3 minutes

Physical requirements

  • 35 pushups
  • 60 crunches
  • 150 jump rope
  • kick to sternum
  • 4 minutes of speed punching
  • 35 repetitions in 3 directions with 15-pound dumbbells (males) or 10-pounds (females)
January 21

Brown belt requirements

These are the requirements for high school students and adults working as purple belts toward their brown belts.

1st stripe

New techniques

  • inside kake block
  • reinforced chudan uke
  • knife thrust
  • mountain palm strike
  • extended side arm block
  • ridge fist
  • jumping spinning crescent kick

Empi Sho kata, first level

Ippons 9 and 10

Taezus 7 and 8

Kihons 1-3

Self defenses

  1. street punch
  2. cross punch
  3. lapel grab and punch

Judo

ude garami (entangled arm lock)

2nd stripe

Empi Sho kata, 2nd level

Sanchin kata, 1st level

Ippons 1-10, 2 directions

Taezus 1-8, 2 directions

Kihons 4-6

Self defenses

hook punch

Judo

juji gatami (cross arm lock)

3rd stripe

Empi Sho kata, 3rd level

Sanchin kata, 2nd and 3rd levels

Ippons 1-10, 4 directions

Taezus 1-8, 4 directions

Kihons 7-10

Leopard animal forms

20 combination attacks

Self defenses

  1. swing kick
  2. knife

Judo

waki gatami (armpit armlock)

Sparring

  • Form sparring (kata kumite), 2 minutes 30 seconds
  • Stance-focus sparring (kime-dachi kumite), 2 minutes 30 seconds

Physical requirements

  • 30 pushups
  • 50 crunches,
  • 125 jump rope
  • 3 minutes 30 seconds of speed punching
  • 15 repetitions in 3 directions with 15-pound dumbbells (males) or 10-pounds (females)