Curriculum and Testing - Adults
We observe the following as our ranking system for adults:
- Unranked/No belt
- White belt
- Yellow belt
- Orange belt
- Green belt
- Blue belt
- Purple belt
- Brown belt
- Brown belt with Black Stripe
- Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt)
Students who are unranked, white belts, yellow belts, and orange belts are considered beginner students. The goal for beginning students is to grasp the foundational aspects of Uechi-Ryu, on which everything else in the style is built. This includes stance, proper stepping, chambering, and proper circle blocks. It also includes Sanchin kata, the style’s foundational form. Other techniques focused on at this stage include stretching exercises, technique exercises, basic two-person kumites, and kicking techniques.
Green belts, blue belts, and purple belts are considered intermediate students. Intermediate students are working on more advanced techniques while continuing to refine and hone their foundational skills. The katas and kumites in these ranks are slightly more advanced, and students will spend more time here than in their beginning ranks. Intermediate students will focus on kata differentiation, tight weapons, and increased speed and power.
A student will also begin regularly sparring at this stage, which challenges them to put their skills into practice and begins to prepare them for their advanced kyu ranks. Any student blue belt and above is expected to have their own sparring gear and to bring it to class regularly.
Brown belts, brown belts with a black stripe, and first-degree black belts are considered advanced students. Advanced students learn even more challenging kumites and katas while focusing on honing their skills that they learned at the intermediate levels. Students at this level focus on putting their skills into practice though bunkai, break falls, and takedowns as they prepare for their first or second degree black belt tests. A student at this stage will continue to work on improving their speed and power while also focusing on timing, distancing, kata dynamics, and the “art” of martial arts.
“Class” refers to 1 hr. of karate instruction. Therefore, someone who does two back-to-back classes in a single day has completed two of their required classes.
“At rank” means the number of classes or the amount of time a student must be at their current belt color (e.g., a yellow belt must have 20 total classes, 10 of which must be as a yellow belt, to advance to the rank of orange belt. A green belt must be a green belt for at least 2 months to test for blue belt).
Unranked/no belt: 1-3 total classes, dojo registration
White belt: 5 total classes, 3 at rank
Yellow belt: 20 total classes, 10 at rank
Orange belt: 40 total classes, 20 at rank. 2 months minimum at rank.
Green belt: 60 total classes, 20 at rank. 2 months minimum at rank.
Blue belt: 80 total classes, 20 at rank. 2 months minimum at rank.
Purple belt: 120 total classes, 30 at rank. 3 months minimum at rank.
Brown belt: 200 total classes, 40 at rank. 3 months minimum at rank.
Brown belt with a black stripe: 300 total classes, 40 at rank. 3 months minimum at rank.
Shodan (First-Degree Black Belt): 1 year minimum at rank to advance to Nidan (Second-degree black belt)
Requirements listed above are the minimum requirements. An instructor may choose to waive a requirement, but this is rare. To test, a student must meet the minimum requirements and have a conversation with their instructor regarding testing. An instructor may decide to test the student in that class or may ask the student to hone a skill with a few additional classes. In the end, the instructor will decide if a student is ready for testing and promotion.
Black belt tests are administered 1-2 times/year, depending on student eligibility. At this point, we celebrate a student’s accomplishments! It is a wonderful thing to achieve your 1st Dan, but receiving your black belt, in many ways, is only the beginning. With multiple katas, a new kumite, additional applications, and a focus on the “art” of “martial arts,” time spent as a black belt is a time of further study that is both challenging and rewarding.
Curriculum and Testing - Children under 12
Children learn differently than adults, and our children’s curriculum and ranking system—while focusing on the same techniques and katas as adults—is geared primarily toward helping the student improve in areas outside of martial arts proficiency such as confidence, self-discipline, and good behavior. It’s important to recognize that the goal for kids is oftentimes less about the technical or physical aspects of karate and more about the social/mental aspects such as self-discipline and focus. Instructors will work with parents to set age-appropriate goals for both karate instruction and personal growth.
Although the belt colors are the same as adults, children gain stripes representing how close they are to their next belt color. Each belt has four stripes. The goal is to show progress through time but with additional steps for more visual motivation.
A child must demonstrate good behavior at school and home to be promoted to their next rank. They must also demonstrate techniques at an appropriate level for their age and development.
A final note: children learn differently and see the world differently than adults. Therefore, what follows is not a minimum class requirement, but rather an average length of time for a child to remain at their belt color, assuming they are attending class on a somewhat regular basis (~2 times a week). Promotions for children will seem random but are actually planned by instructors and parents to demonstrate a meeting of both personal and karate goals.
This curriculum is designed for students under the age of 12. A 12-year-old may choose to use the adult ranking system or the children’s ranking system, depending on their personality. Upon completion of the kyu ranks, children under the age of 15 are eligible to test for their junior black belt. If a child sticks with karate beyond the achievement of their junior black belt, Fourth Form will pay for them to test for their official black belt in Uechi-Ryu at the age of 15.
Beginning Stages – Unranked to Orange Belt (5-9 months)
Unranked/no belt: 1-3 classes
White belt: 1-3 months
Yellow belt: 2-3 months
Orange belt: 2-3 months
Intermediate Stages – Green Belt to Blue Belt (6-10 months)
Green belt: 3-5 months
Blue belt: 3-5 months
Advanced Stages – Purple Belt to First Degree Black Belt (8-12 months)
Purple belt: 4-6 months
Brown belt: 6-8 months
Junior Black belt: Varies (see above regarding age for Uechi-Ryu black belt testing)