In different martial arts, different belt colors signal the level of proficiency in martial arts. In judo, too, the belt provides information about progress. But what is the significance of the belt colors and what principles apply in competitions? We provide insight into the class divisions and competition classes in judo.

In 30 seconds the most important:

  • In judo, there are student grades (Kyū), with colored belts, and ten master grades (Dan), with black belts.
  • For the next higher belt, an examination must be successfully completed. Fall techniques, ground techniques, exercise fights as well as Kata’s (sequence of exercises) are queried.
  • The Judo equipment is completed by a Judo suit. The belt is tied in the traditional way (see FAQ below) and closes the suit.
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Judo belt colors and meaning

You start as a 9th Kyū, as a Kukyū, with the white belt, which no one can deny you, then the other belt colors in judo follow. What are the requirements for each belt color, you will find below:

Belt colorExamination content
White-yellow beltThe 8th Kyū, the Hachikyū, wears the white-yellow belt and must be able to fall backwards and sideways in his exam. In addition, 2 throwing and 2 ground techniques are required and 2 to 3 units of randori of one minute each are performed
Yellow beltIn the 7th Kyū yellow belt exam, the Nanakyū, you must be able to do a forward judo roll, demonstrate 2 additional throwing and ground techniques each, and 3 to 4 units of randori of one minute each.
Yellow-Orange BeltFor the 6th Kyū, the Rokkyū, you will receive yellow-orange and must master the judo roll on both sides. You will also learn 5 new throwing techniques, be given more extensive application tasks, and be required to endure 3 to 5 randori sessions of 2 minutes each.
Orange beltThe orange belt holder is called Gokyū and is the 5th Kyū. Here you must perform the judo roll over an obstacle and learn new throwing techniques, which are performed on one leg, as well as leverage techniques on the ground. Randori remains the same as for 6th Kyū.
Orange-Green BeltThe jump to the orange-green 4th Kyū, the Yonkyū, is a big one and prior knowledge is only spot checked from here on. Here you must demonstrate the advanced “free fall” technique for the first time. Among the new throwing techniques is the Tomoe-Nage known from movies.
Green beltFor the 3rd Kyū, also called Sankyū and the associated green belt you must learn the first Kata. In Randori, fewer requirements exist so that a casual practice fight can take place. Further throwing and ground techniques round off the examination and prior knowledge is rarely asked from here on, as this is evident from the examination program.
Blue beltWhen you take the exam for Nikyū, the 2nd Kyū with blue belt, you must master first choking techniques and hold your own in 3 units of randori of 3 minutes each against an opponent who takes extreme postures. In addition, a new kata will be taught.
Brown BeltThe last student degree and brown belt, the 1st Kyū called Ikkyū, requires your highest precision and flexibility, because here no more mistakes are tolerated. The throws and levers must be applied safely from different situations, 3 different practice partners are chosen in the randori and the third kata must be performed to both sides.
Black Belt (1-10)The examination programs to the master degrees 1st to 10th Dan, all black belts (or from the 6th Dan red-white or completely red), are still clearly more extensive and cover beside new techniques also a constant repetition of the learned. Starting from the 3rd Dan examination the examinee can select the majority of the techniques freely. Furthermore, every Dan exam includes a part of theoretical knowledge, which the examiner can test.

Belt color vs. age and weight class

In Judo, the class division is indicated by the belt color. You basically have to distinguish between two categories of classification.

  1. On the one hand there is the individual rank of the judoka, which can be recognized by the judo belt. This rank can be increased to the next rank by passing the Judo examination. There are exact specifications for the minimum age and the contents of the examination, which the Judoka must master and these are the same for each of you.
  2. The division into age and weight classes, as it is done in the competition, has to be clearly distinguished from this, because this has nothing to do with the belt rank of the judoka. It is only to create a better comparability of skills in competition by keeping differences in age and weight small.

Classification into student and master grades

As mentioned above, the belt represents your personal grade by its color. Every newcomer starts with the student grade of 9th Kyū and wears the white judo belt, with increasing student grade the belt colors become darker and lead over yellow, orange, green and blue to brown. It is not possible to skip individual grades.

The examinations lead gradually downwards to 1st Kyū, the brown belt, whereupon the next step is the examination for 1st Dan, the degree of the lowest Judo master and thus the “black belt”. Judo examinations exist up to the 5th Dan, all other degrees are awarded for great achievements by appropriate associations. A minimum age exists for the 5th Kyū (at age 9), the 3rd Kyū (at age 11), the 1st Kyū (completed age 12), and the 1st Dan (completed age 15).

What does the Judo examination for the higher degree look like?

The Judoka must be able to safely demonstrate a series of techniques, which become more difficult with increasing rank.

  • An initial component of the exam is falling techniques, where the student must catch their momentum to prevent injury. Falling works in four directions.
    The counterpart to this are the throwing techniques, with which the opponent is transported to the mat.
  • Demonstration of ground techniques involves getting the opponent supine and under control in a kneeling or near-lying position.
  • Randori (practice fighting) is to apply the techniques learned to a partner who is fighting back.
  • From the 3rd Kyū onwards, the student, together with a partner, must still perform a Kata, which at first glance resembles the Randori. In the kata, however, the techniques to be applied are precisely prescribed and the practice partner does not defend himself.
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The corresponding techniques for the examination are written in the examination program and the judoka must master all of them if he wants to pass the examination. In principle, the student should have internalized all the techniques of past exams. The examiner is also entitled to ask for them in higher grades. Especially in Dan examinations, examiners like to use this option and have techniques demonstrated that belong to the basic knowledge of every Judoka, but are not specifically mentioned in the current examination program. So it is valid: You are not only learning for this exam, but for all following ones.

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Determine the right belt length

Body sizeBelt length
approx. 1,50 m2,30 m to 2,50 m
1,50 m to 1,75 m2.50 m to 2.70 m
1.75 m to 1.90 m2.70 m to 3.00 m
1,90 m3.00 m to 3.30 m
Table body size belt length
Judo Gürtel
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FAQ about judo belts

We have compiled answers to common questions for you below. The belt keeps the judo pants and jacket in shape and gives support to the judo suit. In addition, it provides information about the knowledge or passed exams of the judoka.

Update: 2023-01-20 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API