How to Get a Yellow Belt in Karate

Earning a yellow belt in karate signifies that you are not a novice and that you have demonstrated basic knowledge in karate. The standard belt color progression is white -- beginners, yellow, green, brown and black. Some karate schools include orange and blue belts. A yellow belt represents 50 to 75 hours of classwork and three to five months of training. Yellow-belt students are familiar with the etiquette and procedures of the dojo -- training school, and their movements are losing the awkwardness of raw beginners. In some dojos, beginners start sparring at yellow belt.

In karate, belt color indicates level of accomplishment. (Image: Lizalica/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Join a good dojo. "Dojo" means "place of the way," and is where karate students train. Because you'll be spending a significant amount of time at the dojo, make certain the teachers and students are people you'd like to spend a few years around.

Step 2

Ask your instructor for a list of requirements for yellow belt and practice steady on each requirement in order. In most dojos, some of the requirements are written, but others are more a matter of tradition, so they are unwritten. Your instructor and higher-ranking students can fill you in on any requirements that aren't in print. At this stage in your training you will be focusing on mostly basic punches, kicks and blocks. You may also have to learn a long form or kata -- choreographed movements, some short combinations and some self-defense techniques. When you are introduced to each requirement in class, take it home and practice it before you forget it.

Step 3

Ask specific questions and work on incorporating the answers into your techniques. Once you are shown a technique, take personal responsibility for practicing and perfecting it. Your teachers will show you new skills but only you can make those new skills your own.

Step 4

Be aware of promotion schedules and required time in grade. If possible, try to learn the material you need well before you are scheduled to promote. The last thing you want to do is to go into a review with a technique you haven't practiced much. Allow time for your requirements to settle into your body and become automatic.

Step 5

Present yourself at your promotion in a clean, pressed gi -- karate uniform. Make sure you are well rested and nourished. Cultivate a can-do attitude for your test. You will be asked to show what you've learned, so do so with all the energy and enthusiasm you can muster. The black belts -- highest ranking karate practitioners -- of your dojo will evaluate your readiness for promotion.

Things You'll Need

  • An earned white belt

  • Gi -- karate uniform

  • Gear required by your instructor


In most dojos, if you earn a yellow belt, your instructor will provide it for you. Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, you will not need to go to a martial arts store and buy your own belt.


It is possible to fail a yellow belt test. Failing a test is not a shameful thing if you have put in an honorable amount of effort beforehand. On the other hand, whining about the failure or quitting because you didn't get your way is a shameful thing. Failure is a chance to start again, this time with more knowledge and experience than you had last time.

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