Goju-Ryu Belt Ranks

Image of Goju-Ryu karate belt colors.
In this image blue belt should replace orange (which is not awarded)

The GKK organization tests and awards rank based two general categories: dan (black belt) rankings and kyu (lower belt) rankings.

Kyu ranking consists of 3 sub-categories: white, green and brown. Green and brown sub-sub-categories are identified by stripes of the next highest color (brown stripes for green belts, black stripes for brown belts). Initial attainment of each category has no stripe.

White belt, however, only has one rank for which the next-highest category (green stripe) would be added — 9th kyu. Yellow and blue belts replace the stripes which might otherwise be applied to the white belt.

Black belt has its ranks, of course, but other than for teaching credentials (red with white stripe) and 10th dan (red), no delineations in rank are used to identify practitioner-level rank (black belts) in the GKK system.

Below we’ve set out the GKK rank criteria on which students will be judged (usually every 3 months by formal testing) in order to attain promotion:

Kyu Rankings (lower belts)

Ju (10th) Kyu – White belt

To learn:

To demonstrate basic knowledge and proficiency of:

  1. Warmup exercises
  2. Concept of Karate
  3. Attitude and motivation
  4. Mechanics of:
    1. Jo Dan Uke
    2. Chu Dan Uke
    3. Ge Dan Uke
    4. Sho Men Zuki
    5. Mae Geri

Kyu (9th) Kyu – White belt with green stripe

To learn:

  1. Stances
    1. Sanchin Dachi
    2. Zen kutsu dachi
    3. Shiko dachi
    4. Neko ashi dachi
  2. Blocks
    1. Jo ge uke
    2. Kake uke
    3. Chu dan ude uke
  3. Punches
    1. Shita zuki
    2. Ri ken uchi
    3. Shuto uchi
  4. Kicks
    1. Mae geri kekomi

To develop: All previously learned movements

Hachi (8th) Kyu – Yellow belt

To learn:

  1. Stances
    1. Ko kutsu dachi
    2. Hei soku dachi
    3. Musubi dachi
    4. Heiko dachi
    5. Hachi ji dachi
    6. Re no ji dachi
  2. Blocks
    1. Mawashi uke
  3. Punches
    1. Furi uchi
    2. Hai to uchi
    3. Hiji uchi
    4. Naka take ken
  4. Kicks
    1. Soku to geri
    2. Fumi geri
    3. Mawashi geri
    4. Ushiro geri

It should be noted that while the GKK does not require kata for yellow belt, this dojo begins teaching kata immediately to new students. 9th and 8th kyu will be required to learn and demonstrate proficiency in the Taikyoku series kata (all 10) before testing for blue belt.

Shichi (7th) Kyu – Blue belt

To learn:

  1. Katas
    1. Gekisai Ichi
    2. Gekisai Ni
  2. Zen shen zuki (body shifting exercise)
  3. Yakusoku kumite (prearranged/one steps) – 3 techniques each
  4. Ran geki (sparring without stance technique)
  5. Jiyu kumite (freestyle sparring with partner) (aka ippon kumite)

At this level, increase knowledge of many techniques from basics, body shifting, beginning katas, prearranged sparring, and some actual freestyle sparring.

Rok (6th) Kyu – Green belt

To learn:

  1. Kata
    1. Saifa
  2. Zen shin zuki (complex form)
  3. Yakusoku kumite (5 prearranged techniques in each stance)

Go (5th) Kyu – Green belt one brown stripe

To learn:

  1. Kata
    1. Sanchin (develop concentration, focus, strength)

Yon (4th) Kyu – Green belt two brown stripes

  1. All techniques must have proper strength and speed
  2. Defined movements properly applied

San (3rd) Kyu – Brown belt

To learn:

  1. Kata
    1. Seiunchin

Students must perform all previous kata and demonstrate good speed, strength, focus and form.

Students must also learn all yakusoku (prearranged) kumite with correct body distancing and timing.

Ni (2nd) Kyu – Brown belt one stripe

Practice seinchin. Also be able to demonstrate variations of yakusoku kumite/one-steps.

Ichi (1st) Kyu – Brown belt two stripes


  1. All basic techniques
  2. Zen shin zuki moves
  3. Katas
  4. Yakusoku kumite
  5. Basic knowledge of karate
  6. History of karate (especially goju ryu)
  7. Karate words/translations

Black belt

Sho dan

Learn: Tensho kata

Ni dan

Learn: Sanseiru kata

San dan

Learn: Shisochin kata

Yon dan

Learn: Sepai kata

Go dan

Learn Seisan kata

Roku dan

Learn: Kururunfa Kata

Shichi dan

Learn: Suparrunpai Kata

Hachi dan

Shichi dan

Kyu dan

Ju dan


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