How Many Black Belts Are There in Karate?

Most people believe that achieving a black belt is a sign that the art of Karate has been mastered. However, while a black belt is a very impressive accomplishment, it does not mean that you have reached the pinnacle of karate skills. Once you test into the black belt rank, there are still 10 levels that must be accomplished before you will receive your final belt.

For karate training, Summer Hill, Oatley, and Mortdale locals can trust ICC for high-quality programs taught by experienced martial arts professionals. More than just another Sydney Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy, ICC is all-in-one mixed martial arts combat centre with 5 styles available for everyone. If you’re considering Karate, or have already started your martial arts journey, you might be interested in learning more about the black belts in the upper echelon – read on for more information.

The Black Belt Ranking System

Karate uses the Kyu–Dan system of ranks. Kyu ranks denote levels below black belt (coloured belts), and Dan ranks denote levels of black belt. Most styles of karate have between 6-10 kyu ranks and 10 Dan ranks. This means that earning a Black Belt is not the final level, and it is not a final achievement. It is a new beginning where the basics have been mastered and you’re ready to venture out and find ways to further grow and develop as a martial artist.

Dan Belts

Before you can achieve a black belt, you must climb the ranks through the Kyu levels. The first levels are signified with coloured belts (white, orange, red, yellow, green, and purple). The upper levels are denoted with different brown belts. After your last brown belt, you’ll achieve your first black belt, or Dan belt. The first degree black belt earns you the title of “Sempai” or assistant teacher.

There Are 10 Levels of Black (Dan) Belts, Each One Requiring Years of Intense, Continuous Training

The First Five Dan Levels – The first five levels are named Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yodan and Godan. Each of these levels is achieved through continual training; it can take upwards of 29 years of study and practice to reach the fifth level of Dan.

Levels Six to Nine – Named Rokudan, Nanadan, Hachidan and Kyuudan, these levels include continued practice of martial art skills as well as the practice of the tenets of the martial arts for the betterment of mankind. These tenets include:

  • Humility of the heart.
  • Courtesy in all matters.
  • Charity in giving.
  • High moral character.
  • Martyrdom, or sacrifice directed to the right causes – unconquerable spirit and certain victory.

Achieving a ninth level black belt can take up to 40 more years of training and following of the martial arts tenets.

Level Ten

Achieving the final Dan level of Judan is an exceptional accomplishment, attained by only a select few around the world. You must first gain your ninth Dan belt and then be chosen by a group of ninth- and eighth-degree belt holders for the final belt. The 10th Dan is only awarded to those martial artists who have given a lifetime to the furtherance of the martial arts and have demonstrated a lifetime of significant achievement.

If you haven’t begun your journey yet, you’ll start from the beginning with a white belt. Should you choose to undertake Karate training, you’ll be in for a life-changing adventure where you will learn, grow, and develop superior strength and fitness, both physically and mentally.

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Give our BJJ program a go and experience the improvements to all of these fields. It is considered to be an excellent first style where the skills are easily transferable.


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