How Long Does It Take To Get A Yellow Belt In Karate?


I used to do karate, and got a yellow belt when I was in elementary school. But, now that I’m older I started taking a more in depth look into the karate belt system, and how long it takes to get a yellow belt, since I’ve forgotten most of the moves. I did some research and here’s what I found.

So, how long does it take to get a yellow belt in karate?

According to Martin Jutras, a black belt in karate, who runs KarateLifestyle.com it takes about 6 months to get a yellow belt in karate. And according to GKR Karate it takes about 12 classes to get your yellow belt. So anywhere between 2 to 6 months is realistic for most people.

Whether you’re interested in what you’ll learn when going from white belt to yellow belt in karate, how good a yellow belt is, and how long it takes to get a black belt. This article will cover everything you need to know about how long it takes to get a yellow belt in karate.

Yellow karate belt

How do you get a yellow belt in karate?

There are about 5 moves you’ll need to know to go from white belt to yellow belt, and there are a range of ways you can practice to learn everything you’ll need. Here’s how you get a yellow belt in karate..

The Japanese Karate Association says that there are 5 basic techniques you need to know to get a yellow belt, as well as, the basic foot positioning and stances known as shizen tai. Once, you know all the moves you can be graded by an instructor to get awarded your yellow belt.

Each karate school can be slightly different in their exact requirements to be awarded a yellow belt. 

According to the requirements of the Japanese Karate Association you will need to know these following moves:

  • Chuudan chokuziki – middle punch
  • Joudan ageuke – high punch block
  • Chuudan soto uke – middle block – wax off
  • Gedan Barai – low block
  • Maegiri – front middle snap kick

The techniques have strict form, and you typically will do lots of reps in each class to get the hang of them. And commit them to memory.

First the instructor will demonstrate how to do each technique in slow motion. Where they will demonstrate how to stand, and how to move your arms and feet.

But, you can also look up how to do these techniques on Youtube. However, oftentimes the videos are grainy, explained in Japanese, or are difficult to find. 

And it’s better to get a professional course, or have an instructor show you how to do them. That way you’ll be sure you’re learning it correctly.

Karate schools will hold a grading ceremony a few times a year, and you’ll be invited to participate.

Grading ceremony to get your yellow belt

Before getting your yellow belt, your instructor will need to be sure you can do the techniques, and they’ll ask you to demonstrate them.

At the grading ceremony they’ll ask you to do a bunch of repetitions of each of the moves.

Here’s a video of some white belts at Charleswood Karate:

After you’ve demonstrated the techniques they’ll award you with a yellow belt. And it’s up to you to decide if you’d like to be graded for a yellow belt when they hold a grading ceremony.

There are only a small handful of moves you need to know, so it’s quite easy. But, it’s a good idea to try and do the moves really well. And exactly the same each time.

How good is a yellow belt in karate?

With each new move you learn you’ll be getting better at karate. But, how good is a yellow belt really?

With the skills you know by getting a yellow belt you’ll be able to execute a lot of basic moves, which is good. However, your ability to defend yourself won’t be that developed because at most schools you won’t have done any ‘kumite’ training. 

Kumite is the name of sport karate, and is where you spar and compete to earn points.

There are a range of different karate tournaments that are held locally and internationally. 

You don’t begin doing kumite until you’re an 8th Kyu –  orange belt which is the 3rd belt. And the belt you get after the yellow belt. However, each karate school is slightly different in their methods of training.

By doing kumite training, you’ll learn the timing you need to execute the techniques against an opponent that’s moving around and trying to avoid your strikes.

The good news is that karate tournaments aren’t as brutal as a boxing or kickboxing match. The official rules put out the World Karate Federation state that you can’t execute strikes hard in a way that damages your opponent.

And it’s generally accepted that the objective is to only touch your opponent with your strikes.

However, because limbs are flying there’s still a chance that you can get injured in rare cases during a tournament match.

If you need to execute the techniques in a self defense situation as a yellow belt you’ll be better equipped that you were before. But, being really comfortable will come a bit later, once you do some sparring, and have a bit more experience.

Is there a white belt yellow tip?

Before getting a new belt in karate sometimes you’ll get a tip. For example, a yellow belt orange tip. But, can you get a white belt yellow tip? Here’s an explanation of whether you get a white belt yellow tip:

Some karate schools will award you a yellow tip on your white belt, which is a stripe of tape or fabric worn on the tip of your belt. Whereas, other schools don’t award a yellow tip. Whether you get a yellow tip before getting your yellow belt, depends on each individual school.

Getting stripes on your belt can be good because it gives you a sense of accomplishment, and is a good way to reward students for consistently training. But, other schools may be of the opinion that there isn’t an objective way to measure stripes.

What are the color of karate belts in order?

Each martial art has slight differences in the way they award belts, and karate is no different. Here’s the order that belts are awarded in karate:

The first belt – a white belt – gets awarded without any prior training after that it goes:

  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Black

After black belt you get awarded dans, and there are as many dans as there are belts. But, dans are typically awarded as stripes.

Here’s a comparison between the belts in karate and other martial arts:

KarateTaekwon-Do (not formalized)JudoBrazilian Jiu Jitsu
WhiteWhiteWhiteWhite
YellowOrangeYellowBlue
OrangeYellowOrangePurple
GreenCamouflageGreenBrown
BlueGreenBlueBlack
BrownPurpleBrownCoral (black and red) or white and red
BlackBrownBlackRed
RedRed and white or black
Red and BlackRed or black
Black

But judo, and Brazilian jiu jitsu have different colored belts for kids (juniors) and adults. Also, Taekwon-do doesn’t have a formalised belt system and the colors can vary based on what school you go to.

Related questions:

Can you skip belts in karate? You can skip a belt in karate but it normally doesn’t happen. There are multiple grading ceremonies throughout the year. 

And the chances that you’ll be good enough to skip a belt is unlikely because by the time you’re good enough to skip a belt there will have already been multiple grading ceremonies. 

However if you spend a lot of time learning on your own outside of class it’s definitely possible to skip belts. Each belt after yellow and orange, takes more time to get than the previous belt. So as you progress through the belts in karate the less likely it will be that you can skip belts. 

How long does it take to get a belt in karate? I wrote about this recently in an article about how long it takes to get a black belt in karate which you can read here.

It also explains how long it takes to get each of the ranks after black belt. Here’s a table from the article which shows how long it takes to get each belt:

Belt numberBeltHow long it takesTotal time
1WhiteFirst belt no time requirement0
2Yellow3 months3 months
3Orange6 months9 months
4Green6 months1 year 3 months
5Blue9 months2 years
6Brown1 year3 years
7Black1.5 years4.5 years

Sources

Jacob Wilson

Jacob loves sports. He did karate for 3 years in elementary school, and played volleyball and basketball in high school. He has also been training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for a year, and is a 2 stripe white belt.

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