Belt Rank System

Notes about the judo promotion/rank system In 1907, Jigoro Kano introduced the modern judogi  (uniform) with its modern obi (belt), but he only used white or black belts. The white uniform represented the values of purity, avoidance of ego, and simplicity. It gave no outward indication of social class so that all students began as equals. The black belt with the white judogi represents the polarity of opposites, or inand yo- the student begins “empty”, but fills up with knowledge. Professor Kano was an educator, and he used a hierarchy to set learning objectives for Judo students, just as students typically pass from one grade to another in the public school system. The Judo rank system represents a progression of learning with a syllabus and a corresponding grade indicating an individual’s level of proficiency. Earning a black belt is like graduating from high school or college. It indicates you have achieved a basic level of proficiency, learned the fundamental skills and can perform them in a functional manner, and you are now ready to pursue Judo on a more serious and advanced level as a professional or a person seeking an advanced degree would. Of course, the rankings also represent progress towards the ultimate objective of judo which is to improve the self not just physically, but morally as well. Achievement in Judo is recognized by a series of ranks. The student ranks are called kyu and are usually differentiated by colored belts (obi). Different colors may be used around the world and in some countries there are more than 6 kyu ranks. The ten “black belt”, or expert, ranks are called dan. Note that different organizations have slightly different belt colors and combinations per rank.  The following is a simplified comparison of USJA/USJF/Canada systems to traditional Kodokan (Japanese) systems.   (EmeraldCity Judo, while primarily a USJA club, utilizes the USJF ranking system) Thanks to the excellent site http://judopedia.com/index.php?title=Ranking_System_and_Belt_Colors

Junior Ranks (nominally up to 16 years old)

Please keep in mind that individual clubs may not abide exactly by these ranking systems. For more details about the ranking system used at your school, please speak to your instructor. Notes: Kōdōkan: These ranks are from 6 and up to 13 years old. USJA: This system is for students 16 years of age and younger. Official guidelines state that the student should wear a patch that denotes the rank. USJF: This system is for students 16 years of age and younger. Canada: The half color belts are commonly divided length wise, but paneled belts are also allowed.
Romanization Translation Kōdōkan   USJA[3]   USJF[4]   Canada[9]  
Mu-dan-sha   Kyu (not dan)   Rank Belt   Colors
(18th-12th   grade possible)
jyū-san-kyū 13th   grade
jyū-ni-kyū 12th   grade Yellow
jyū-ichi-kyū 11th   grade Yellow White White
jyū-kyū 10th   grade Orange White/Yellow White/Yellow
kyū-kyū 9th   grade Orange Yellow Yellow
hachi-kyū 8th   grade Green Yellow/Orange Yellow/Orange
nana-kyū,   shichi-kyū 7th   grade Green Orange Orange
rokkyū 6th   grade Blue Orange/Green Orange/Green
go-kyū 5th   grade Yellow Blue Green Green
yon-kyū 4th   grade Orange Purple Green/Blue Green/Blue
san-kyū 3rd   grade Green Purple Blue Blue
ni-kyū 2nd   grade Purple Brown Blue/Purple Blue/Brown
ikkyū 1st   grade Brown Brown Purple Brown
Yū-dan-sha   Dan Rank  
sho-dan 1st   degree Black
ni-dan 2nd   degree Black
[†] Female children wear a white stripe through the center of their belt. This belt is called a “Joshi” (女子) belt, as stated below in the adult ranks section. Male children do not have a stripe on their belt.

Adult Ranks

Romanization Translation Kōdōkan   USJA[3]   USJF[4]   Canada[9]  
Mu-dan-sha   Kyu (not dan)   Rank Belt   Colors
hachi-kyū 8th   grade
nana-kyū,   shichi-kyū 7th   grade
rokkyū 6th   grade White Yellow White White
go-kyū 5th   grade White Orange Green Yellow
yon-kyū 4th   grade White Green Blue Orange
san-kyū 3rd   grade White* Brown Brown Green
ni-kyū 2nd   grade White* Brown Brown Blue
ikkyū 1st   grade White* Brown Brown Brown
Yū-dan-sha   Dan Rank  
sho-dan 1st   degree Black Black Black Black
ni-dan 2nd   degree Black Black Black Black
san-dan 3rd   degree Black Black Black Black
yon-dan 4th   degree Black Black** Black Black
go-dan 5th   degree Black Black** Black Black
roku-dan 6th   degree Black†‡ Black Black Black
shichi-dan 7th   degree Black†‡ Black Black Black
hachi-dan 8th   degree Black†‡ Black Black Black
ku-dan 9th   degree Black†§ Black§ Black§ Black§
jū-dan 10th   degree Black†§ Black§ Black§ Black§
[†] (Kodokan) Females may wear a white stripe through the center of their belt. This belt is called a “Joshi” (女子) belt. Female children may also wear the white stripe on their colored belts. According to the IJF, the joshi belt is not legal in international competition anymore[11] Males do not have a stripe on their belt. Many females outside of Japan do not wear a stripe around their belt. [‡]  (USJA/USJF/Canada) The red and white panel belt is optional. The name of this belt is “Kohaku” (紅白) belt. [12] It is often worn for special occasions.[1] [†‡](Kodokan) Eighth dan females are allowed to wear a red joshi belt instead of the kohaku belt.[13] [§] (All)The solid red belt is optional and is also used for special occasions. [**] The USJA used to allow an optional red and black panel belt. When the USJA started a jujitsu division in the early 90′s they began permitting the wearing of the red/black belt for 4th and 5th dans because it was used by some jujitsu schools. Most USJA judoka did not wear them.[14] It does not exist within Kōdōkan judo or within the IJF.[2] References:
  1. 1.0      1.1      http://www.judoinfo.com/obi.htm
  2. 2.0      2.1      Cichorei Kano, Red      and Black Obi (JudoForum)
  3. 3.0      3.1      http://www.usja-judo.org/Docs2004/National%20Judo%20Rank%20System.pdf
  4. 4.0      4.1      http://www.usjf.com/public/rank_requirement.pdf
  5. 5.0      5.1      http://www.ausjudo.com.au/jfa/forms?tabKey=3107
  6.       http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/KyuGradingSyllabus_004.pdf
  7. 7.0      7.1      http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/gradings_home.php
  8.       http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/KyuGradingSyllabus.pdf
  9. 9.0      9.1      http://www.judocanada.org/doc/doc/00000534_kyūSylE.pdf
  10.       http://www.judorio.org.br/graduacao_do_judo.html
  11.       Judoheidi, Colors      of Belts (JudoForum)
  12.       ptnippon
  13.       Jonesy, Colors      of Belts (JudoForum)
  14.       JudoSensei, Red      and Black Obi (JudoForum)
  15.       http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/JuniorGradingSyllabus_002.pdf
  16.       http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/JuniorGradingSyllabus.pdf
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