Gradings will be held about every 3 to 4 months. They are a very useful way to measure progress and to use as an incentive (especially for children – teaches them to set goals).
Coloured belts are called “Kyu” grades (pronounced “Q”) and decrease in number as the student advances. For example, 8th Kyu is higher than 9th Kyu.
As Karate is quite complex children usually progress more slowly than adults. For this reason they will normally progress in a series of half grades known as “Temporary” grades. So for example on their first grading they would likely be awarded a Temporary 9th Kyu, then on the next grading they could get their full 9th Kyu; then Temporary 8th Kyu and so on. However, a child that does especially well may be awarded a full grading if appropriate.
When a student receives a Temporary grade, they are entitled to wear that colour belt. However, they need to put a white tab around one end of the belt. For convenience, you can use electrical insulating tape (or something similar) rather than mess about sewing on little bits of material (the old way)!
Adults whose performance on a grading is just borderline or who make a few mistakes on a grading may also be awarded a temporary grade. At the next grading they may asked to complete the full grading at that Kyu level, or if they have progressed enough they could be allowed to go for the next full Kyu grade above.
When you reach Black Belt, you become a “Dan” grade. Dan meaning “degree”. With Dan grades, the numbering is reversed from the Kyu system. That is, you start as a 1st Dan, progress to 2nd Dan, then 3rd Dan, etc, etc.
After 1st Kyu, you would normally expect to wait at least 6 months before going for your 1st Dan, then 2 years for your 2nd Dan, 3 years for your 3rd Dan and so on.
The colours are shown below with their corresponding Kyu numbers:-