BELT RANK REQUIREMENTS
The following information is mostly taken from The Secrets of Isshinryu Karate and
Isshinryu Karate History and Kata by Sensei Joel
Chandler, and from the requirements that I experienced coming up through the ranks as a member of the
Other groups within Isshinryu may have different requirements, variations in
the grading standards, and belt colors. These are the requirements of the Tatsuo-Kan Society.
Rank promotions or "gradings" are mostly held by the dojo sensei during the early Kyu ranks and
by a board of three or more black belts from the fifth kyu test and higher.
Karate is divided into two main grades or ranks which are called "Dan" and "Kyu" grades. The
Dan grades refer to 1st degree black belt (Sho Dan) and above. Kyu Grades refer to the colored
belts. The Dan grades rise upwards from 1st to indicate the higher skill, but in kyu grades, it is
the reverse; thus 1st kyu immediatley precedes 1st Dan. All promotion tests are formal tests,
meaning clean, pressed white gis (uniforms) will be worn and all karate etiquette will be observed. In
Isshinryu Karate, everyone starts off as Ju Kyu or 10th Kyu White Belt and the requirements for
promotion listed below.
Ju Kyu means 10th Kyu White Belt.
Everyone starts here.
Ku Kyu means 9th Kyu - one stripe on White Belt.
One month study at the school as a 10th Kyu White Belt. Student must be able to perform
basic exercises taught in class. Sometimes intermediate stripes will be awarded between Ku Kyu
and Hachi Kuy as the student completes various courses of training such as being able to perform
all of the basic moves in Seisan kata.
Hachi Kyu means 8th Kyu Yellow Belt.
Four months study at the school as a white with one stripe belt. Student must be able to perform
Seisan Kata reasonably well and 15 basic techniques as taught in class with recommended
reading of Isshinryu Karate. Student will perform the 9 basic Isshinryu Karate kicks and pass a
written test on Isshinryu Karate.
Shichi Kyu means 7th Kyu Orange Belt.
Four months study at the school as a yellow belt. Student must be able to perform Seisan and
Seiuchin Katas reasonably well. Must be able to Kumite reasonably well showing a variety of
techniques. Must be able to pass a written test on karate.
Roko Kyu means 6th Kyu Blue Belt.
A minimum of four months study at the school as an orange belt. Student must be able to
perform Seisan, Seiuchin, Naihanchi and Wansu Katas reasonably well and will write a
paper on the history of karate. This rank is assigned to those individuals of good moral
character who have been accepted as students by the school and have completed the above
requirements. Must pass a written test on Isshinryu Karate and the Martial Arts. Student must
show better Kumite techniques and have control of techniques during Kumite. Recommended
reading: "The Weaponless Warriors" by Richard Kim.
Go Kyu means 5th Kyu Green Belt.
Four months study at the school as a blue belt. Students must be able to perform Seisan,
Seiuchin, Naihanchi, Wansu, and Chinto Katas reasonably well. Student must compete in Kumite
contests in the Dojo and in tournaments, write a paper on karate etiquette, be a member in
good standing of the Dojo. Student must pass a written test on Isshinryu Karate.
Yon Kyu means 4th Kyu Brown Belt or Purple Belt.
Four months study at the school as a green belt. Student must be able to perform Seisan,
Seiuchin, Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto and Sanchin Katas reasonably well. Student must
compete in Kumite and Kata contests. Student must write a paper on "What Karate Means to
Me". To be promoted to this rank, a person must have sound knowledge of the origin of
Isshinryu Karate and its development. Student must know a little of the Okinawan terminology
and color and order of the Isshinryu Karate ranking system. Student must be well versed in
karate etiquette and have regular attendance at the Dojo. Student must pass a written test on
"The Weaponless Warriors" by Richard Kim. Recommended reading: "The Greatest Salesman
in the World" by Og Mandino.
San Kyu means 3rd Kyu Brown Belt.
Four months study as a 4th kyu. Student must be able to perform Seisan, Seiuchin, Naihanchi,
Wansu, Chinto, Sanchin, and Kusanku Katas. Compete in Kumite and Kata contest. Student
must Must pass a written test on the Martial Arts. Student may also be asked to perform board
breaks, 1 or 2, with both hand and foot techniques.
Ni Kyu means 2nd Kyu Brown Belt.
Four months study as a 3rd Kyu brown belt. Student must be able to perform Seisan, Seiuchin,
Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto, Sanchin, Kusanku, and Kusanku Sai Katas reasonably well.
Student must compete in Kumite and Kata contests. Student must have good Dojo attendance
and pass a written test on Isshinryu Karate and its origin. Student may also be required to
perform board breaks. 2 or 3 boards with both hand and foot techniques of the students
Ik Kyu means 1st Kyu Brown Belt.
Four months study as a 2nd kyu brown belt. Student must be able to perform Seisan, Seiuchin,
Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto, Sanchin, Kusanku, Kusanku Sai, and To Ko Meni No Kun No Dai
Katas reasonably well. Student must compete in Kumite and Kata contests. Student must be a
member in good standing with the Dojo. Student must be a capable and willing assistant in
teaching karate classes. Student must be able to judge Kumite and Kata contests under
supervision of instructors. Student must write a paper on Isshinryu Karate. Student will be
asked to break at least 2 or 3 boards with both a hand and foot technique of his/her choice.
Student must be of good moral character. Student must be at least 16 years of age and have
good, regular attendance in class.
Sho Dan means 1st Degree Black Belt.
Student must have a minimum of 2 years and 3 months of continuous study of Isshinryu Karate.
Must be of age to compete with adults.. Must be able to perform Seisan, Seiuchin, Naihanchi,
Wansu, Chinto Sanchin, Kusanku, Kusanku Sai, To Ko Meni No Kun No Dai and Sunsu Katas
with total command of moves and knowledge of interpretation of each. Student must know the
history of Isshinryu, completely. Student must be able to defend, orally, Isshinryu history,
Okinawan terminology and fundamental principles of Isshinryu Karate. Student must have a
sound knowledge of all lower rank requirements. Student must be well versed in karate
etiquette. Student must understand promotional standards and their restrictions. Must write a
paper on a subject of their choice. Must pass a written test on any subject in the Martial Arts.
Must be able to Kumite one on one, two on one, and three on one. Must know 30 vital points
and self - defense techniques for 15 different attacks. Must be able to do board breaks, 4 with
hand and 4 with kicking techniques. Must be able to extinguish a candle with a punch and a kick
of their choice.
Ni Dan means 2nd Degree Black Belt.
One year of continuous study as a sho Dan. More knowledge of Isshinryu Karate. More
complete knowledge of 8 Empty Hand Katas and 3 weapons katas. Must have achieved and
furthered Isshinryu Karate. Must have actively supported and advanced Isshinryu Karate, either
nationally or locally. Student's attitude must be constant and predictable. Student must be of
good moral character and know the meaning of humility. Student must submit a two page paper
on how attitude and humility go together with karate etiquette and must be able to defend the
paper, orally. Black Belt must show self - defense techniques, 20 holds, and one technique
each for 40 vital points.
San Dan: 3rd Degree Black Belt
Two years study as Ni Dan.
Must know 8 empty hand kata plus 5 weapons kata, Kusanku Sai, Tokomeni no Kun, and Chie Fa.
Must have furthered the advancement of Isshinryu Karate. Other special requirements include
oral exams on Isshinryu etiquette and attitude, dedication and importance of practice. Must
have additional knowlege and deeper understanding of Sanchin Kata. Must know 50 vital points.
Yo Dan: 4th Degree Black Belt
Four years study as San Dan.
Must know 8 empty hand Kata plus 6 weapons kata: Kusanku Sai, Tokumeni No Kun, Chie Fa, Chata-Yara no Sai,
Urashi Bo, and Shishi no Kun. Must know 80 vital points and be able to demonstrate techniques to each.
Other requirements will be conveyed to applicant after acceptance to test for Yo Dan. Support Isshinryu
Locally and Nataionally. Typed paper on "Loyalty".
Go Dan: 5th Degree Black Belt
Four years study as Yo Dan.
Must know all 14 Isshinryu Kata.
Must have 14 years of continuous study in Isshinryu Karate.
Must know 90 vital points and be able to demonstrate techniques to each.
Must write a 4 page paper on "Patience, Itegrety and Loaylty".
Other requirements plus special permission of promotional board.
Oral test on "Book of Five Rings" and "Greatest Salesman in the World".
Roku Dan: 6th Degree Black Belt
To attain this rank, applicant's history in Isshinryu is presented to board 6 months before test date.
Must meet all previous requrements.
Oral exam on Isshinryu history, origin of karate, Okinawan/Japanese terminology, and American history of
Isshinryu since 1960.
Must have furthered Isshinryu Karate nationally and written articles for newspapers and their organization's
Must know 100 vital points with application.
Nana (Shichi) Dan: 7th Degree Black Belt
Must be nationally recognized, head of organization or leader in a recognized Isshinryu organization. Must be active
in national Isshinryu Karate events.
Hachi Dan: 8th Degree Black Belt
A recognized leader and exemplary member of the Isshinryu community. A recognized teacher of teachers.
Ku Dan: 9th Degree Black Belt
A recognized leader, organizer, teacher of masters and Sensei of masters.
Ju Dan: 10th Degree Black Belt
Has furthered the teachings of Isshinryu Karate to a level of unquestionable accomplishments and recognition.