Belts & Grading System

MayoShinDo karate association
Belt Ranking Explained

MayoShinDo karate, like most martial arts, measures progress through a series of coloured belts. We have a progressive grading system, by which we mean that at each new grade we not only learn new techniques but are expected to practice and get better at the ones we already know. Each grade requires a greater number of hours trained than the previous one in order to accommodate this. For example, to gain an orange belt we have to know the orange belt techniques well enough, but we are also expected to perform our yellow belt techniques to an orange belt standard.

All new students start at white belt, the graphics below show our belt ranking and the additional number of hours required to be eligible to grade to each belt, for example an orange belt would usually be expected to complete a minimum of 60 hours of training at orange belt in order to grade to their green belt. The hours between grades are used as a guideline and is just one of the factors used to determine if a students is ready to take their grading.

40 Hours

60 Hours

70 Hours

80 Hours

90 Hours

100 Hours


Below black belt, ¼ grade tags may be given if the pupil is above the expected grade or is not quite ready for the next grade. So, for example, an orange belt with two green tags indicates a level approximately halfway between the two colours. Tags come in pairs, one for each end of the belt, so a student who earns 1 tag will actually receive two tags. The maximum number of tags a student can earn is 3. After 3 tags the next grade is a new belt.

Local Gradings

Tags and new coloured belts are awarded at local grading sessions which are typically held three times a year. They are supervised by Area Coaches, assisted by other Dan grades. New belts have to be earned, so students are expected to work hard and perform to an appropriate standard. Nevertheless, gradings are not boot camps and we hope that everyone will enjoy being there.

Black Belt Gradings

Karate gradings for black belt and above are longer and more intensive than those for coloured belts and also require students to pass a short written exam covering first-aid knowledge, nutrition, anatomy and origins of the style. They are held over a weekend once a year in Cornwall or Oxford, and are supervised by the National Coach (Derek Collins, 9th Dan), assisted by other senior grades. Black belts also change from white to black trousers.

It is a myth that a black belt is an expert! There is a long road ahead yet. Being awarded a black belt simply means that students know the basics and can start to teach whilst keeping far enough ahead of their own students as they progress.

Beyond black belt, “Dan” grades are awarded. The minimum time between gradings is the same number of years as the next grade. So, for example, grading from 2nd Dan to 3rd Dan takes 3 years (assuming you pass). Dan grades are shown with discs at the ends of the belt. At third Dan the suit changes to all black.