General Information

Judo uses a system of colored belts to acknowledge and reward technical proficiency.  Judo America has devised a comprehensive, rigorous promotion syllabus for both junior (under 17 years old) and senior participants that presents competition effective Judo skills in a progressive manner.

Promotions are strictly based on merit, and are directly affected by attendance, effort level during class and tournament participation. There are no automatic promotions or mass testing events at our club.  There are also no promotion fees, although in most cases students will have to purchase a new belt upon being promoted.  The coach will notify students when they’re ready to take a test.  All students are encouraged to prepare for their next test upon being promoted.

There are four elements to each promotion:

  • Meeting the performance guidelines for the rank
  • Achieving the required number of promotion points (juniors only)
  • Demonstrating the new technical requirements for the rank
  • Demonstrating the technical requirements from previous ranks

It’s important to note that the mere ability to demonstrate techniques is not enough to be considered for rank advancement.  All promotions are based on performing skills in a sparring or competition environment.  Thus, students will only be considered ready for testing when they have met the required performance guidelines for each rank.

Junior Ranks

These ranks are for children between five and seventeen.  At the discretion of the coach, some teenagers may be promoted to a senior rank before the age of seventeen.  The junior promotion system consists of the following ranks: 

  • White, White with black stripe, White/Yellow
  • Yellow, Yellow with black stripe, Yellow/Orange
  • Orange, Orange with black stripe, Orange/Green
  • Green, Green with black stripe, Green/Blue
  • Blue, Blue with black stripe
  • Purple, and Purple with black stripe.

There’s no minimum age requirement for junior ranks.  Participation in one tournament is required for each promotion.  This is usually fulfilled by attending one of our in-house tournaments or another informal tournament.  We’ll encourage our most promising students to participate in sanctioned tournaments.  Since tournament experience has a profound effect on overall performance, competitors can expect to be promoted more frequently than non-competitors. 

Senior Ranks

These ranks are for students seventeen and older, and for a select group of teenagers who merit being promoted to a senior rank because of physical maturity and/or superior Judo ability.  The senior promotion system consists of the following ranks:

  • Kyu ranks: White,  Yellow, Yellow/Orange, Orange, Orange/Green, Green,  Blue, Brown,
  • Dan ranks: Black (1st-3rd Dan), Black and Red (4th-5th Dan), Red and White (6th-8th Dan), Red (9th-10th Dan) 

Participation in competition for seniors is encouraged but isn’t a requirement for promotion.  Juniors who have transitioned to the senior promotion system will still have to fulfill the one tournament per promotion requirement.  Since tournament experience has a profound effect on overall performance, competitors can expect to be promoted more frequently than non-competitors.  Candidates for black belt promotions are encouraged to direct their efforts toward developing, in addition to a well-rounded technical background, an emphasis of study in any one of the following fields:

  • Coaching (coaching and certification )
  • Competition (any level)
  • Club administration (board or committee member)
  • Officiating (tournament officiating and certification )

Promotion Procedures

  • Get a copy of your test requirements from our web site
  • Practice the test material frequently.  Ask the coach for help when in doubt.
  • Schedule extra practice time if needed.
  • Set up a test date with the coach when he indicates that you’re ready to test
  • After passing your test, a certificate of promotion will be issued to you, and your name will be put on the rank board.  If your promotion requires a change in belt color, you must purchase the belt.
  • Get your next test from the web site and start studying!
  • If you fail the test, you may test again after adequate study and practice time.  It’s typical to have to retake only the techniques you failed, not the whole test.

 Terminology List