Promotion Requirements


The Path to Black Belt

There are a lot of commercial karate schools willing to “make” a student a black belt for a set price in about a year. This is not one of those schools. It typically takes about five years for a student to earn a black belt in Isshinryu, and only a very small percentage of students who take Isshinryu classes earn a black belt. It also is important to remember that earning a black belt in Isshinryu karate does not mark the end of study or make the student an expert; it is at this point that the serious, lifelong pursuit of a deeper understanding of the martial arts begins.

Yellow Belt/Orange Belt

  • Students taking the first test have the opportunity to earn either a yellow belt or an orange belt. To receive any promotion, all students must be able to execute the techniques on Charts I and II after hearing the technique names announced.
  • Students completing Charts I and II to the satisfaction of the instructor receive a yellow belt.
  • Students completing the charts and Seisan kata to the satisfaction of the instructor receive an orange belt.

Students with a yellow belt may demonstrate Seisan kata at any time to the instructor and receive an orange belt.

Green Belt

  • Memorize Charts I and II in order and demonstrate techniques.
  • Show improvement in Seisan kata.
  • Complete Seiuchin and Naihanchin kata to the satisfaction of the instructor.
  • 25 pushups (one set)*
  • Planking (time set by instructor)

With the instructor’s permission, students receiving a green belt may begin the study of traditional Okinawan weapons.

Blue Belt

  • Improvement in execution of charts, Seisan, Seiuchin and Naihanchin kata.
  • Complete Wansu, Sanchin and Chinto kata to the satisfaction of the instructor.
  • 50 pushups (two sets of 25, with one minute rest between sets)*
  • Planking (time set by instructor)
  • Compete in kata and kumite in at least one tournament.

Brown Belt

  • Improvements in execution of charts and previously learned kata. You should now be demonstrating appropriate speed, power, balance and breathing in all of these.
  • Complete Kusanku and Sunsu kata to the satisfaction of the instructor.
  • 50 pushups (one set)*
  • Planking (time set by instructor)

Black Belt

This is a very serious test, one designed to assess your endurance as well as your skill. You will take this test with multiple instructors grading you. This test can take as long as eight hours.

  • In advance of the test, the student will submit written bunkai for one kata of his or her choosing, and be prepared to demonstrate the bunkai during the test.
  • Complete all previous charts and kata with excellent speed, power, balance and breathing.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in at least two weapons kata. You will have previously worked with your instructor to determine what those kata will be.
  • 100 pushups (two sets of 50)*
  • Planking (time set by instructor)
  • Breakfall and roll exercise.
  • Demonstration of power in kicking and punching using heavy bag and assistants with kicking shields.
  • 12 two-minute rounds of kumite with fellow students, instructors and invited guests. Some rounds will be against multiple opponents.

*Adjustments to push-up requirements can be made for students over 40 or suffering from serious physical infirmities.