What is the Judo Belt Order?

Judo is undoubtedly one of the most popular Martial Arts around the globe. Founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, the now Olympic Sport has continued to grow in popularity. 

If you're unfamiliar with Judo, it could well look like another gi wearing sport with a tonne of different coloured belts. Fortunately,  here to demystify that illusion and take a look at Judo's belt order and what exactly each belt means. 

Let's get to it.

What is Judo?

Founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, the now Olympic Sport has continued to grow in popularity. Jigaro Kano was a student of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, however at the age of 21, began to develop a Martial Art of his own - Judo, meaning "Gentle-Way".

Kano, being small in height, wanted to develop a Martial Art where you could use an opponents weight against themselves, without being dominant in physique.

Basing some core elements around his learnings form Jiu Jitsu, he started to create a number of throwing techniques in which an opponents force could be used to his advantage.

Once setting up his own Dojo in Japan, he set off around the world to promote and teach the Martial Art of Judo.

To this day, Judo remains in the core of most self defence training, continues to be an Olympic sport and is even a common element seen in Mixed Martial Arts (thanks to Rhonda Rousey).

Judo Belt Order

Although a Global Martial Art, the belt order in Judo remains the same where ever you are. 

The ability required to achieve each grade may vary, but the colour of belts and grades remain the same.



NO Grade

6th Kyu

5th Kyu

4th Kyu

3rd Kyu

2nd Kyu

1st Kyu

1st - 5th Dan

6th - 8th Dan

9th - 10th Dan

Judo Gradings

How a Judoka is to earn their next belt will vary from club to club and even country to country. Most countries, such as the UK and US have governing bodies, called the BJA and USJF respectively.

These governing bodies will have a set of requirements that each Judoka must meet in order to progress to the next grade. 

Not all clubs will choose to be be a aport of these governing bodies, instead opting to hold their own gradings and have their own requirements. 

This in turn causes a disparity between grades, meaning you could have two 1st Kyu's, with massively different abilities.

A Brief Story...

When I was younger, probably about 11 or 12, my dad used to take me around to different clubs in their neighbouring areas. My regular club was a part of the BJA, so I was graded to their syllabus, unlike some of the other clubs I attended.

I think I was around orange of green belt at the time and I remember walking into a club and everyone had a blue and brown belt on. I, being a very unconfident kid, despite being National School Boys Champion quickly felt out of place. 

Not long after Randori (free practice/ sparring/ rolling) started I soon realised that these belts were incredibly far out of sync with the BJA graded Judoka's I was used to training with.

Anyway... moral of the story is don't let someones belt put you off training with them. They may be graded differently too you, just have received their grade, or even be borrowing a belt from a friend 😉

How to Tie a Judo Belt

Check out the video below to see how to tie a Judo belt:

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has given you a bit of clarity concerning the different belts of Judo. If you've got any questions at all, please feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

James Davis

A fervent mixed martial artist and avid MMA fan, James combines his experience and scientific knowledge to provide you with a unique perspective on the most popular MMA products on the market. He joins the ranks of other MMA enthusiasts in creating this website to guide and educate the next generation of mixed martial artists.

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