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Understanding the Meaning of Karate Belt Colors

Originally posted on 08/11/2015
Karate Belt Colors

Updated: 5/19/2020

Most people have heard of someone who holds a black belt in karate or another martial art. These people are familiar with the skill and accomplishment it represents. However, there are many other belt colors that those studying karate must achieve before reaching the pinnacle of their training. 

What is the Order of Belts in Martial Arts?

Let's start with a quick overview of the belt order in martial arts. Many martial art disciplines have their own belt progression from a low level to a more advanced level. Historically, the belts get darker as the student advances. 

As for a Jeet Kune Do based Karate belts, our order goes from white to black belt as the highest belt level. 

  • White 
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Green
  • Blue 
  • Purple
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black

Let's go into each of these belt levels in the next section.

Karate Belt Levels in Martial Arts

A karate student tightens their white belt.White Belt

The white belt symbolizes a birth or beginning of a person’s will to acquire the skills of karate, and it is worn by those who are just beginning their study. On your first day, hitting others is not acceptable. We train techniques before we place you in a combat situation.

Average time before advancement: 6-9 months

A karate student tightens their yellow belt.Yellow Belt

Yellow signifies the first beams of sunlight that give a seedling new growth and new life. As such, the yellow belt is worn by a beginner who has learned to practice the basic moves of karate. 

Focus: Learning basic stance, punches, and kicks. We begin light sparring at 50% contact. Stress learning about focus, disciple, and bully prevention.

Average time before advancement: 7-9 months

A karate student tightens their orange belt.Orange Belt

Orange represents the growing strength of the sun, so the orange belt is given to a beginner once he or she has mastered karate’s 10 self-defense moves.  

Focus: We begin practicing more advanced combinations and takedowns. Our lessons stress the importance of learning that giving feels better than taking. Being courteous and generous is the key to martial arts. 

Average time before advancement: 9-10 months

A karate student tightens their green belt.Green Belt

Green is a representation of growth, so it is given to intermediate students who are learning to strengthen and refine their skills. 

Focus: At this stage, we mix striking and grappling/wrestling. Students must start practicing at home, which takes discipline.

Average time before advancement: 10-12 months

A karate student tightens their blue belt.Blue Belt

Blue represents the sky and the light it provides all growing things, so the blue belt is given to students at the stage of their studies when they begin to learn additional knowledge of the martial art that allows their minds and bodies to continue to grow and develop.

Focus: At this stage, students will be able to actually defend themselves. Real sparring begins at this level, if the student and parent choose. Lessons stress being a leader and not a follower. 

Average time before advancement: 12-20 months

A karate student tightens their purple belt.Purple Belt

Purple represents the colors of dawn, so a purple belt is given to a student who is transitioning into the advanced stages of study. 

Focus: At this stage, students learn advanced footwork. The curriculum is similar to our adult program by this point. We constantly stress the importance of the phrase “martial arts is for self-defense, not to boost our ego.” Lessons highlight when to be stern and when to give in.

Average time before advancement: 12-20 months

A karate student tightens their red belt.Red Belt

Red symbolizes the red hot strength of the Sun. In the same way that a growing plant must stretch its way slowly toward the Sun, students with red belts learn to be cautious of their practice. As red is also the sign of danger, a student with a red belt is learning to become dangerous in his or her knowledge and skills.

Focus: Students begin informally teaching younger and less-seasoned students by assisting in classes. Additional highlights include helping in our community, charity, and causes we believe in. 

Average time before advancement: 12-20 months

A karate student tightens their brown belt.Brown Belt

Brown is a representation of the ripening of a seed during the maturing and harvesting process, so a brown belt is awarded to advanced students who are beginning to realize the fruits of their beginner studies and whose techniques have begun to mature. 

Focus: Sharpening physical technique that we’ve been practicing for years. Now we perfect our weaknesses - being mentally strong is key here. This is the last step before black belt. 

Average time before advancement: 12-20 months

A karate student tightens their black belt.Black Belt

Black symbolizes the darkness beyond the sun, and a person who has been awarded a black belt seeks to gain a deeper and further understanding of the physical and mental teachings of karate. Many people who are awarded a black belt begin passing on their knowledge to help others advance in their own belt rank.

Focus: At this stage, the student needs to be able to defend themselves and show honor, discipline, focus, and respect in your life. The ultimate goal is to be well rounded. 

Karate Classes for Kids and Adults at NYMAA

Kids Karate Classes

Too many kids nowadays live without enough physical activity. Here at NY Martial Arts Academy, we give them a reason to move while having fun. Our classes help discourage bullying by stressing the importance of patience and restraint. We also practice working together to gain discipline, self-confidence, and make some friends along the way.

Adult Karate Classes

The NY Martial Arts Academy has been open since 1985. Adults enroll in our classes for many reasons. Many come for the physical fitness aspect to bring better strength, flexibility, and overall health back into their routines. Others come seeking self-defense techniques that will help keep them safe in the real world. Just about everyone who comes finds they feel better with less stress and more energy. 

Taking Your First Karate Class with NY Martial Arts Academy

Whether you’re interested in excelling all the way to the level of black belt, or you’d like to sign your children up for a kids karate class, look to NY Martial Arts Academy for highly trained instructors who can pass on the knowledge and physical tactics of karate to any student, regardless of his or her skill level. Stop by one of our locations in Astoria, Brooklyn, Long Island, or Queens, or contact us today!

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