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Karate Green Belt – Rank, Meaning, Requirements, Kata 

Karate is one of the most well known martial arts. Like most martial arts from Japan it uses a colored belt ranking system.

Each belt signifies a different level of progress, today I will explain what a Karate green belt is, how good they are, and what a person needs to do to get one.

A green belt in karate means a person has been training in karate for about 1 year. They know 26 new techniques, and have attended 3 grading ceremonies. When learning the curriculum to get a green belt, student learns throws, and live sparring (kumite) for the first time. 

In general, a person needs to spend a minimum of 5 months at the belt before green belt – an orange belt, before they can be eligible to test for their green belt.

Below, I will cover:

  • What techniques a green belt needs to know
  • how students are tested and awarded a green belt
  • how often a person should train karate.
Green karate belt

List of Techniques To Get a Green Belt in Karate

In one to two classes a person could be shown all of these techniques. However, each technique would take a considerable number of repetitions before a person can easily perform each technique, and have all of the techniques mostly memorized.

  • 5 stances
  • 5 hand strikes
  • 6 kicking strikes
  • 7 throws
  • 3 kata
  • Basic breakfalls
  • Basic kumite (sparring)

On top of these new techniques a person needs to learn as an orange belt to get a green belt they ALSO need to remember all of the techniques from the previous belts. 

Here is a table that shows what types of techniques a person needs to know from the previous belts, and what types of techniques they are. I’ve also put the techniques required at green belt so you can see how they differ.

White beltYellow beltOrange beltGreen belt
Hand strikes0335
Kicking strikes0766
Self defense0350
Kumite sparring (level)No.No.No.Yes. Basic.

(source: United States Martial Arts Federation)

Totalling up all the techniques – a green belt needs to know 72 techniques. The specific kata they need to know are:

  • Heian Shodan
  • Tekki Nidan
  • Heian Nidan

Below is a video that shows one of these kata, Tekki Nidan:

On top of all of these techniques there are additional things a karate student need to be familiar with. But, aren’t necessarily part of the formal grading test. These are:

  • How to count in Japanese
  • Knowledge of anatomy, such as weak areas in the body and where to aim strikes
  • Have a sound moral character

Also, there is also no age requirement to get a green belt.

There are quite a few different styles of karate. Therefore, the exact curriculum can differ somewhat depending on the style of karate. It also depends on the instructor (sensei), and they may drop or add certain requirements.

How karate belts are awarded

Grading ceremonies are typically held twice a year. At these ceremonies karate students will attend an evening or full day event. Generally, 5 or so students are graded at a time. The karate sensei will ask students of a particular belt to line up. They will then call out techniques, and the karate students will need to perform repetitions of them.

Depending on the belt students will also need to demonstrate touch sparring with a partner. And demonstrate kata. Kata are normally demonstrated individually. One student will perform a kata at a time. At the end students will be given a pass or fail by the sensei, at which point they will be awarded their new belt, or not.

Belt Order in Karate [Green Belt Is the 4th Belt]

Karate has a formalized belt ranking system. It is almost exactly same regardless of what karate academy (dojo) you go to. Here are all the belts in karate, and in one order they are awarded.

The belt order in karate is white belt, yellow belt, orange belt, green belt, blue belt, purple belt, brown belt, and then black belt. After black belt there are 10 ‘dan’ ranks. The highest dan rank can only be awarded to a person who is over 65 years of age.

Below, is a table that shows this as well as with the Japanese names.

BeltJapanese nameBelt order
White beltShichi-kyu (7th Kyu)1
Yellow beltRok-kyu (6th Kyu)2
Orange beltGo-kyu (5th Kyu)3
Green beltYon-kyu (4th Kyu)4
Blue beltSan-kyu (3rd Kyu)5
Purple beltNi-kyu (2nd Kyu)6
Brown beltIk-kyu (1st Kyu)7
Black beltShodan8

The time it takes to go from one belt to the next is about 6 months. Some karate academies will have grading ceremonies once every 3 months. Getting the first few belts takes a very short amount of time, and a person can get 3 belts in their first year training karate.

BeltJapanese nameMinimum time at this belt
White beltShichi-kyu (7th Kyu)3 months
Yellow beltRok-kyu (6th Kyu)3 months
Orange beltGo-kyu (5th Kyu)5 months
Green beltYon-kyu (4th Kyu)5 months
Blue beltSan-kyu (3rd Kyu)4 months
Purple beltNi-kyu (2nd Kyu)5 months
Brown beltIk-kyu (1st Kyu)6 months
Black beltShodann/a

(source: Karate Black belt Martin Jutras)

Is a Green Belt in Karate Any Good

In martial arts, once a person has a few belts it means they have been training for about a year. But, in others it can take a few years to go from the first belt to the second belt. A green belt is quite far along in the karate belt order, but here is whether a green belt in karate is any good.

A green belt in karate is not very good. They have just begun doing kumite ‘sport’ karate sparring. Typically, a person does not become fight ready until they are late brown to black belt. At this point their sparring skills are advanced, and capable for self defense.

Experienced martial artists are of the opinion that the main thing which improves a persons ability to fight or win competitions is training against resisting opponents. This part of martial arts training only begins being trained after green belt level.

Therefore, it’s fair to say that a green belt in karate is not that much better at defending themselves. And this skill only comes once a person is late brown belt to black belt. The main reason is they have spent significant time live sparring.

Is It Hard To Get Promoted to the Next Belt in Karate

In some martial arts, it takes a very long time and a lot of work to go from one belt to the next. But, each martial art is different. Having done karate for a few years, here is a rundown of whether it’s hard to get promoted to the next belt in karate.

Overall, it’s not difficult to get promoted to the next belt in karate. It does not take very long to go from one belt to the next in karate. On average it takes 3 to 6 months to go from one belt to the next. At the grading ceremony a person needs to demonstrate the required moves and kata.

To go from orange to green belt a person need to know 3 individual kata. Kata are often difficult to learn because they involve memorizing a sequence of moves. It’s easy to lose track, and you need to start from the beginning. Until you can do it every time in the right order.

In general, it’s not difficult to get a promoted from one belt to the next in karate. The main things are to go to class regularly, on average, 3 times a week.

What Are the Top 3 Belts in Karate

Karate is one of a handful of martial arts that use a color belt ranking system. Each martial art typically has a slightly different belt order. So here are the top 3 belts in karate.

A purple belt, brown belt, and black belt are the top 3 belts in karate. But, in some karate organizations instead of a purple belt, they have 3 levels of brown belt. Therefore, the last 3 belts can also be brown belt 2, brown belt 3, and black belt.

After black belt there are higher ranks. But, the belt color doesn’t change. It is very different to other popular martial arts such as Brazilian jiu jitsu and Judo. In these martial arts after black belt there are 2 additional belts. A coral belt, and red belt.

Whereas, in karate a person gets a certificate, and is recognized by the international and national karate organizations. They also act as judges at grading ceremonies for other black belts.

Is Green Belt Higher Than Black Belt

The belt order in all martial arts always start with a white belt. But, after that it does vary depending on what specific martial art it is. In karate a green belt is a fairly high rank, but here is if a green belt is higher in rank than a black belt.

A green belt is not higher than a black belt. A green belt is 3 belts before a black belt. The belt order after a green belt goes blue, purple, brown, and then black. Most martial arts don’t have a green belt, only karate, judo, and BJJ juniors.

What rank a green belt in karate would be in other martial arts could be debated. But, total training time to get a green belt is only 1 to 1.5 years. 

In some martial arts like BJJ a person could still easily be a white belt. And it often takes most people 2 years to get a blue belt. 

Whereas, in judo a person would be a yellow belt or orange belt. Below, is a table that shows a comparison between the belt order in karate compared to judo.

JudoTime totalKarateTime total
White3 to 4 monthsWhite belt3 months
Yellow1 year to 1.5 yearsYellow belt6 months
Orange2 years to 3.5 yearsOrange belt11 months
Green4 years to 6.5 yearsGreen belt1 year, 4 months
Blue7 years to 10.4 yearsBlue1 year, 8 months
Brown9 years to 12.4 yearsPurple2 years, 1 month
BlackBrown belt2 years, 7 months
Black beltn/a

From the table you can see that the belt order is basically exactly the same. But, the total time to go from a white belt to a black belt is a lot longer in judo compared to karate. Overall, it takes about 5 times longer to reach a black belt in judo.

Interestingly, once a person gets a black belt in either judo or karate, they can continue to get better pretty much until they are very old. They can discover new things about distributing their body weight, and develop better timing for their strikes, and blocks.

How Often Should You Train Karate per Week

It’s commonly believed that the more you do something the better you will get at it. But, in sports such as martial arts it’s important to train well rested to avoid injury. Below, is the long and short of how often you should train karate per week.

On average, 3 to 4 times per week is optimum. Any more than that, and you risk a higher rate of injury. Any less than 3 times per week and it’s difficult to retain the moves and techniques taught.

There is also the case for professional athletes. Professional athletes are unique compared to regular people. In general, they can train much harder and more often without getting injured. 

It’s widely believed in sport science that only a small percentage of people can become professional athletes. They are genetically gifted. The vast majority of people will get injured too often if they train at the same frequency and intensity as professional athletes. Even if they build up to it gradually. 

So, for most people 3 to 4 times per week is optimum. Many karate academies also only offer training 3 to 4 times per week. A kids class, juniors class, and adults class.

Martial arts that have classes every day are generally MMA gyms, which train a wide range of martial arts. Such as boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and BJJ. Therefore, to cover all of them they need to have classes everyday.