Grading and Belts


Colored belts have their origin in Judo, as does the training 'gi', or more correctly in Japanese, 'dōgi' or 'Keikogi'. In Kyokushin the order of the belts varies in some breakaway groups, but according to the Honbu of Oyama, the kyu ranks and belt colors are as follows:

Kyokushin karate Belt Order
White Mukyu
Orange 10th Kyu
Orange with one blue stripe 9th Kyu
Blue 8th Kyu
Blue with one green stripe 7th Kyu
Yellow 6th Kyu
Yellow with one orange stripe 5th Kyu
Green 4th Kyu
Green with one brown stripe 3rd Kyu
Brown 2nd Kyu
Brown with one black stripe 1st Kyu
Black with one gold stripe Shodan (初段:しょだん)
Black with two gold stripes Nidan (二段:にだん)
Black with three gold stripes Sandan (三段:さんだん)
Black with four gold stripes Yondan (四段:よんだん)
Black with five gold stripes Godan (五段:ごだん)
Black with six gold stripes Rokudan (六段:ろくだん)
Black with seven gold stripes Shichidan (七段:しちだん)
Black with eight gold stripes Hachidan (八段:はちだん)
Black with nine gold stripes Kyūdan (九段:きゅうだん)
Black with ten gold stripes Jūdan (十段:じゅうだん)

Each colored belt had two levels, the second being represented by a stripe at the ends of the belt. The white belt however, does not represent any level and is only meant to hold the 'gi' in place. As such, the white belt is used by practitioners who are not yet graded. The belt system under Mas Oyama followed this order since the 1960s with the exception of the yellow (red) belt, which was incorporated only in the last year of his life, replacing the earlier used white belt with one and two red stripes for the same kyu grades.

Whilst some groups also use red belts for high dan grades, it is not the norm and Oyama himself did not follow this practice in his dojo or organization, always wearing a wholly black belt himself.