What Do the Belts in Karate Mean?



Karate practitioners wear a karate belt called ‘obi.’ The students tie the belt around their karate outfit, the exercise outfit (also known as ‘gi’ or ‘dogi’).

But what do these karate belts signify? Do all karate institutes have the same colors for these belts?

In this article, we will answer all your questions regarding karate belts and their significance.

What is the Karate Belt Ranking?

The more you practice karate, the more you’ll notice your skills growing. The colors of the karate belts tell the story of growth and advancement in karate from the start.

The color-coded ranking system tells us about the karate practitioners’ hard work and class advancement. Plus, it is an organized way of indicating an individual’s improvement in karate skills and intellectual growth.

Though all the karate schools have a specific ranking system, the general karate belt ranking is the same in terms of technological growth in the field. Since the karate belts have different colors, there are several ranks associated with them.

These colors include white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and black. Let’s discuss the karate belt ranking in detail.

White Belt

A white belt signifies the beginning level of karate. The color white represents the start or beginning of life, so the individuals who have just started learning martial arts are the ones to wear a white belt. The white karate belt represents their will and passion for learning karate.

Yellow Belt

The yellow belt symbolizes sunlight, which signifies the beginning of something. It implies that the karate practitioner has understood the basic concepts of martial arts.

The student obtains this belt after an exam in which the institute assesses them for their basic knowledge. After that, the karate school gives this belt to those who are learning and practicing correctly.

Orange Belt

The orange belt represents that a student’s karate skills are improving, and that they are learning at a good pace.

The orange color symbolizes the sun, which means the person is growing in power and intellectual abilities.

Green Belt

A green color belt symbolizes the growth of a seed that aims to become a plant. Just like a seed, a karate student is also evolving to become an expert.

Most karate schools award this belt to intermediate students who are learning new techniques to strengthen their skills.

Blue Belt

The blue color in karate symbolizes the sky, which represents consistent growth and improvement. As students learn more skills, they try to reach the blue sky, similar to how a plant grows upwards.

At this level, karate students are usually confident and have reasonable control over their skills.

Purple Belt

The purple-colored belt in karate symbolizes the dawn. Students moving towards the advanced levels of karate receive this belt.

By this stage, the student understands what it takes to reach the highest rank in karate.

Brown Belt

The brown belt in karate represents maturity. Karate practitioners at this level start to see the benefits of their skills and ways to implement them correctly.

This belt also motivates students to work harder and move to the most advanced levels of karate.

Red Belt

The red-colored belt symbolizes the sun, but this time it represents a hotter star. Only those martial arts students who have detailed knowledge of the field get the red belt.

The red belt is a pre-black belt stage and signifies that the student is powerful and holds excellent control over their skills.

Black Belt

The black color represents the end, and it means supreme power. This is the final stage of karate or martial arts, and the school awards it to students who have a complete understanding of karate.

Those who receive the black belt are considered experts, so they can also teach karate to others.

How Long Does it Take to Advance Belts in Karate?

Belts hold much importance in karate as they symbolize the level of expertise in martial arts. They are also helpful in organizing and representing the individual’s growth. Overall, the color-coded ranking system helps in maintaining the values and honor of the art.

You may have observed that as the student expands their skills, the color of the karate belts gets darker. The student requires a certain period to obtain a belt, which depends on their learning pace and inherent skills.

The average time required to attain the highest rank, the black belt in karate, is 3.5 to 4.5 years. But if someone takes karate training only a few times a week, it will take them about 5 to 10 years to achieve the highest rank.

If you want to know how long it takes to advance belts in karate, here are the details:

White Belt (No time required)

The first belt is the beginning of the journey, so this is what you start with as a beginner in karate classes. It takes around three months of active training with the white belt before you can move on to the next rank.

In short, you can say that while you don’t precisely need time to get a white belt, you must train with this belt for at least three months to go further.

Yellow Belt (Three months)

Most karate schools give the yellow belt to students after three months of practice and active training. Students need to pass an exam once they’ve completed three months of training to get the yellow belt.

Orange Belt (Six months)

After six months of active training, the student receives a yellow belt. An individual at this level understands the basic principles and concepts of karate in a better way.

Green Belt (Six months)

As the levels of belts advance, the time to acquire them also increases. Therefore, a student is eligible for the green belt only after completing at least six months of training and practice.

Blue Belt (Nine months)

The student receives a blue belt after training and practicing for nine months. Karate practitioners are now much better at protecting themselves and are ready to perform the mechanical execution of the karate principles.

Brown Belt (12 months)

The student obtains a brown belt after taking training classes for at least one year. At this point, the student is mature enough to apply the skills against another resisting partner.

Black Belt (18 months)

The practitioner obtains the highest rank in karate after one and a half years of training and practicing. The individual is now perfect in terms of self-defense and has learned various combat techniques.

The above progression time is an average estimate, and the specific period depends on the individual’s strength and learning capability. Some karate schools also include other belts, such as the purple and red belts, which take about 12 to 18 months to acquire.

Wrap up

Karate and martial arts have been around for hundreds of years, and they provide the perfect way to defend yourself and keep yourself healthy. Although the levels or rankings may differ for some schools, most follow the “10 Kyu” level system. To be eligible for a black belt in karate, you must master the previous training and obtain lower-level belts.

In short, the number and color of the kyu ranking system vary according to different styles and karate institutions. However, one thing remains the same: the journey to perfect your karate skills.

Meta Description: As the levels in karate progress, the color of the belts also changes. Here’s what each belt in karate means!