Testing
For

Time/Level &
Total Time

Kata

Kumite

Comment

8 Kyu Yellow 3 mo.
3 mo.
Heian 1 Kihon Sanbon
(Basic 3 Step)
Beginning.
7 Kyu Orange 3 mo.
6 mo.
Heian 2 Kihon Sanbon
(Basic 3 Step)
Combinations.
6 Kyu Green 3 mo.
9 mo.
Heian 3 Kihon Sanbon
(Basic 3 Step)
Power. Elbows in.
5 Kyu Blue 3 mo.
1 yr.
Heian 4 Kihon Ippon
(Basic 1 Step)
Finesse developing.
4 Kyu Purple 3 mo.
15 mo.
Heian 5 Kihon Ippon
(Basic 1 Step)
Summary. Strong spirit.
3 Kyu Brown 3 mo.
18 mo.
Tekki 1 Kihon Ippon
(Basic 1 Step)
Internal Power. Close distance fighting.
2 Kyu Brown 3 mo.
21 mo.
Bassai Dai & Jion Kihon Ippon
(Basic 1 Step)
Free sparring begins.
1 Kyu Brown 3 mo.
2 yr.
Jion & Kanku Dai Jiyu Ippon
(Free 1 Step)
Exposure to other katas.
1 Dan Black 0.5 yr.
2.5 yr.
Kanku Dai & Empi Jiyu Ippon
(Free 1 Step)
Just beginning to have a fair grasp of kihon.
2 Dan Black 2 yr.
4.5 yr
Hangetsu & Tekki 2 Jiyu (Free) Capable with kumite.
3 Dan Black 3 yr.
7.5 yr
Jitte, Tekki 3, & Gankaku Jiyu (Free) Confident with kumite. Kata coming along. Able to explain.
4 Dan Black 4 yr.
11.5 yr
Tokui Kata
(Choice Kata)
Jiyu (Free) Sizable contributions to karate.

Intro

The periodic testing of rank sets standards and goals. Like competition, testing is just another practice but with the added pressure of being under review by seniors, peers, and the public. It is an opportunity to look at a student's development with different eyes. It is a check point for problems as well as for strengths. Since a student's performance is a reflection on the instruction received, the instructor is undergoing testing as well.

The specific number of ranks are arbitrary, as are the specific colors. Other schools may have different systems set up. a division of kyu and dan ranking is traditional for many Japanese disciplines. EG: Ikebana, the art of flower arrangement, uses a kyu and dan ranking system.

The examinee's focus is not on what is done, but on how well it is done. It is the instructor who is responsible for providing guidance on both what is done and how well it is done. Each examiner will have his or her own variation of the belt exam syllabus. The examiner will usually provide an opportunity for the examinees to review the specific syllabus in the classes preceding the belt exam. Sometimes the syllabus will change if the examiner suspects a student has a particular technical difficulty. Examinees testing for second kyu and up should expect nearly any combination of basic techniques for kihon.

Only examiners accredited by the parent organization are allowed to give tests. Higher dan ranks are usually awarded by a shihanakai, a board of accredited senior dan. In addition to noting the individual's character, personal skill level, tenure, and performance record, the board will also take into account the individual's contributions to the karate world, including the promulgation, introduction, and/or development of karate populations, publications, techniques, philosophies, and ideas.

Assuming average attendance (2.5 times per week), average class length (1 hr per class), average natural talent, and average quality of instruction, the average student's development approximates a time table that can be translated into calendar time or time measured in class hours. Of course the calendar time may be adjusted depending on variables in the factors mentioned. This includes injuries, time off from karate, or missing a belt exam.

In general an examination consists of kihon, kata, and kumite. The following is a summary table of the general requirements for each rank. Although the kihon is not listed (the detail required would not fit onto the table) the required kihon often reflects technique from the kata.

9 Kyu White to 8 Kyu Yellow

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uchi. 3 times.
  6. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan or jodan. 3 times.

Kata

Heian Shodan.

Kumite

Kihon sanbon kumite by count. Front and back jodan. Front and back chudan.

Comment

The first belt after white belt. Here the foundation is being laid. The kata is offers work on zenkutsu dachi and kokutsu dachi, basic defense for jodan, chudan, and gidan, basic offense with oi zuki chudan and kentsui, and basic shifting in straight lines, and increments of 90 and 45 degree turns.

8 Kyu Yellow to 7 Kyu Orange

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke. 3 times then 3 times backward.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri to highest target. 3 times.
  7. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  8. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Heian Nidan.

Kumite

Kihon sanbon kumite with no count. Front and back jodan. Front and back chudan.

Comment

Combinations of techniques begins. More techniques, including uraken and yoko geri, are introduced.

7 Kyu Orange to 6 Kyu Green

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke. 3 times then 3 times backward.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 3 times.
  7. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri jodan. 3 times.
  8. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  9. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Heian Sandan.

Kumite

Kihon sanbon kumite with no count. Front and back jodan. Front and back chudan.

Comment

Much work on strong kiba dachi and keeping the elbows in.

6 Kyu Green to 5 Kyu Blue

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke. 3 times then 3 times backward.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 3 times.
  7. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri jodan. 3 times.
  8. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  9. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Heian Yondan.

Kumite

Kihon ippon kumite by count. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, and mae geri chudan for left and right sides.

Comment

Variety in execution of technique increases. One step sparring and the use of angles in evasion comes into play.

5 Kyu Blue to 4 Kyu Purple

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke. 3 times then 3 times backward.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 3 times.
  7. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri jodan. 3 times.
  8. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  9. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Heian Godan. The examiner may also choose any of the previous Heian kata.

Kumite

Kihon ippon kumite by count. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, and mae geri chudan for left and right sides.

Comment

The last color belt before brown. The last Heian kata. Some expressiveness is expected.

4 Kyu Purple to 3 Kyu Brown

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke. 3 times then 3 times backward.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 3 times.
  7. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri jodan. 3 times.
  8. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  9. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Tekki Shodan. The examiner may also choose any of the Heian kata.

Kumite

Kihon ippon kumite with no count. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, and mae geri chudan for left and right sides.

Comment

New emphasis in kata, similar to Heian Sandan. Must generate big power from smaller movements.

3 Kyu Brown to 2 Kyu Brown

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan.In place, move front foot to kiba dachi, yoko empi uchi. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki jodan. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  5. Step backward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke then kizami mae geri chudan. Land in zenkutsu dachi, gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  6. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 3 times.
  7. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri jodan. 3 times.
  8. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri chudan. 3 times.
  9. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri jodan. 3 times.
  10. Kiba dachi with body facing shomen. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri keage. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.
  11. Turn around. Step sideways crossing feet into kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi. 3 times then turn around and repeat 3 times.

Kata

Bassai Dai.. The examiner may also choose Tekki Shodan or any of the Heian kata.

Kumite

Kihon ippon kumite with no count. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, mae geri chudan, yoko geri kekomi chudan, and mawashi geri chudan or jodan for left and right sides.

Comment

Some experience in jiyu kumite (free sparring). Personal kumite style starting to emerge. The start of Bassai Dai, the first yudansha kihon kata (basic black belt kata).

2 Kyu Brown to 1 Kyu Brown

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. In place, move front foot to kiba dachi, yoko empi uchi then uraken. 3 times.
  4. Step backward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke then kizami mae geri chudan. Land in zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite chudan. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, kizami mae geri chudan then mae geri to highest target. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  6. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, kizami mawashi geri chudan then mawashi geri to highest target. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  7. Turn around. Step sideways in kiba dachi, yoko geri keage to gidan, chudan, or jodan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  8. Turn around. Step sideways in kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi to gidan, chudan, or jodan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  9. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri chudan. Step forward yoko geri kekomi chudan then land in zenkutsu dachi, gyaku zuki jodan. 3 times.

The following may also be included or substituted:

  1. Step forward and/or in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan then gyaku zuki jodan. 3 times.
  2. Step forward and/or backward in zenkutsu dachi, gedan barai then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, sanbon zuki (jodan 45 degrees, chudan, and chudan). 3 times.
  4. Step forward in zenkutsu, mae geri chudan. Step forward, mae geri jodan. 2 times then turn and repeat 2 times.

Kata

Bassai Dai. The examiner may also choose Tekki Shodan or any of the Heian kata.

Kumite

Jiyu ippon kumite. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, mae geri chudan, and yoko kekomi geri for left and right sides.

Comment

Refining Bassai Dai. Exposure to other katas. Experience and mileage to be gained.

1 Kyu Brown to 1 Dan Black

Kihon

  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 3 times.
  2. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, age uke then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  3. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan. In place, move front foot to kiba dachi, yoko empi uchi then uraken. In place, move front foot to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku zuki 3 times.
  4. Step backward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke then kizami mae geri chudan. Land in zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite chudan. 3 times.
  5. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, kizami mae geri chudan then mae geri to highest target. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  6. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, kizami mawashi geri chudan then mawashi geri to highest target. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  7. Turn around. Step sideways in kiba dachi, yoko geri keage to gidan, chudan, or jodan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  8. Turn around. Step sideways in kiba dachi, yoko geri kekomi to gidan, chudan, or jodan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  9. Turn around. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri chudan. Step forward yoko geri kekomi chudan then land in zenkutsu dachi, gyaku zuki jodan. 3 times.
The following may also be included or substituted:
  1. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, sanbon zuki (jodan 45 degrees, chudan, and chudan). 3 times.
  2. Step forward and/or in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke chudan then gyaku zuki jodan. 3 times
  3. Step forward and/or backward in zenkutsu dachi, gedan barai then gyaku zuki chudan. 3 times.
  4. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, sanbon zuki (jodan 45 degrees, chudan, and chudan). 3 times.
  5. Step forward in zenkutsu, mae geri chudan. Step forward, mae geri jodan. 2 times then turn and repeat 2 times.
  6. Step sideways in kibadachi, yoko geri keage. Step forward in kiba dachi, yoko kekomi with other leg. 3 times.
  7. Step forward in zenkutsudachi, mawashi geri chudan. Step forward, mawashi geri jodan. 2 times turn and repeat 2 times.
  8. Face shomen in zenkutsu dachi. In place with the same leg, mae geri, then yoko geri (your choice of kekomi or keage), then ushiro geri. 5 times. Switch legs then again 5 times.

Kata

Bassai Dai. The examiner will also choose Tekki Shodan or any of the Heian kata.

Kumite

Jiyu ippon kumite. Defense versus oi zuki jodan, oi zuki chudan, mae geri chudan, yoko geri kekomi chudan, and mawashi geri chudan or jodan for left and right sides.

Comment

Just beginning to have a fair grasp of kihon. This is the initiation, the beginning, the start.

1 Dan Black to 2 Dan Black

Kihon

  1. From jiyu dachi, shift front foot forward into kizami zuki (jodan 45 degrees). Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, sanbon zuki (jodan 45 degrees, chudan, and chudan). Return to jiyu dachi. 3 times.
  2. Turn around. From jiyu dachi step forward into zenkutsu dachi, mae geri and gyaku zuki at the same time. As you land, oi zuki then gyaku zuki. 3 times.
  3. From jiyu dachi, shift front foot forward into kizami zuki (jodan 45 degrees). Step backward into zenkutsu dachi, age uke jodan. Step forward into zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri chudan and then uraken jodan. Step forward into zenkutsu dachi, oi zuki chudan. 4 times.
  4. Turn around. Step sideways in kibadachi, yoko geri keage. Step forward in kiba dachi, yoko kekomi with other leg. 3 times.
  5. Face shomen in zenkutsu dachi. In place with the same leg, mae geri, then yoko geri (your choice of kekomi or keage), then ushiro geri. 5 times. Switch legs then again 5 times.
The following may also be included or substituted:
  1. Step backward in zenkutsu dachi, soto uke. In place, move front foot to kiba dachi, yoko empi uchi then uraken. In place, move front foot to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite chudan. 4 times then 4 times going backward.
  2. Step forward in kokutsu dachi, shuto uke then kizami mae geri chudan. In place, move front foot and change to zenkutsu dachi, gyaku nukite. 4 times then 4 times backward.
  3. From jiyu kumite, kizami mae geri chudan, then mae geri jodan. Step forward in zenkutsu dachi, mae geri chudan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  4. Turn around. Step sideways in kibadachi, yoko geri keage. Step forward in kiba dachi, yoko kekomi. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.
  5. Turn around. From jiyu kumite, kizami mawashi geri chudan, then mawashi geri jodan. Step forward, mawashi geri chudan. 2 times then turn around and repeat 2 times.

Kata

One of the four yudansha kihon kata (basic black belt katas): Bassai Dai, Empi, Kanku Dai, or Jion. The examiner will also choose another of the four, Tekki Shodan, or any of the Heian katas.

Kumite

Jiyu kumite. Not tournament style. One or more opponents.

Comment

A capable, personal kumite style should be more mature now. Should be able to handle most kyus in kumite.

2 Dan Black to 3 Dan Black

Kihon

The same for 2 Dan with the examiner's perogative to give nearly any combination of kihon.

Kata

Tekki Nidan, Tekki Sandan, Jitte, Hangetsu, Gankaku, or one of the 4 yudansha kihon kata (4 basic black belt katas): Bassai Dai, Empi, Kanku Dai, or Jion. The examiner will also choose another of the 15 shitei kata of Shotokan (15 standardized katas of shotokan). The examiner may also opt to see a third kata.

Kumite

Jiyu kumite. Not tournament style. At least two opponents.

Comment

Broader and deeper experience in kata. Kumite more comfortable and confident. Should be able to explain and teach. Working on tokui waza (favorite techniques).

3 Dan Black to 4 Dan Black

Kihon

The same for 2 Dan with the examiner's prerogative to give nearly any combination of kihon.

Kata

Any yudansha kata of choice. The examiner will also ask to see one or two other kata.

Kumite

Jiyu kumite. Not tournament style. At least two opponents.

Comment

At this level kihon, kata, kumite, and personal style should be fairly inseparable. Natural and different techniques. Helping others to develop on their own karate road.

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