Judo belt progression time line et

etc., could someone give me an overview of Judo, the belt progression, things learned at different stages, time it takes to achieve belt levels up to black belt etc.

ummmmmmmm. pretty much impossible.

some clubs follow strict guides for that and most do not. the USJI, USJA, USJF have their national rank reqirements and you would be best off looking at their websites to get that data from.

still, the majority of the club use those guides only as suggestions-- not as anything solid or absolute in any manner.

plus, different clubs use different belt color ranking systems, so its too hard to generalize.

the place im training at now only has white and black, and getting a black is fairly easy for adults. no competition experience necessary. at the same time, we have some awesome high school students who are way ahead of some of the black belts in terms of skill who are still white belts.

as an adult, the majority of the clubs I know of will promote white-green-brown-brown-brown-black.

for kids, quite often you will see yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, black (and some intermediate steps between those).

but, like it was said above... how each club does it can vary greatly.

It is true that the progression varies from club to club.

BUT the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, did create a progression with list of what techniques should be taught and learned at each level.

Some coaches follow his progression, many don't.

Incidently Kano progression corresponds to the kyu levels which is what the belt ranks are suppose to represent. Originally Kano only had three belt colors: white, brown then black. The kyu levels were split between the white and brown belts. So there were three kyus or levels for white belt and three kyus or levels for brown belt. After brown belt is of course black belt which has 10 dans or degrees.

There are six fundamentals of Judo:

1) Posture (Shisei)

2) Body Movement (Shintai)

3) Body Turning (Tai-Sabaki)

4) Forms of grasping (Kumikata)

5) Unbalancing (Kuzushi)

6) Breakfalling (Ukemi)

All of these fundamentals are taught in the throws of Judo. There are introduced, from simple to complex, in the Go Kyo no Waza.

The Go Kyo no Waza are five sets or groups of techniques. Each set or group has 8 throws. Again there is suppose to be a progression in the structure of each group. The techniques in each group progress from simple or easy to complex. AND the each following group is suppose to be more advance or complex then the preceding group. So the first technique in the first group is easier to learn and do then the second, third, forth etc techniques in the same group. The second technique of the first group is suppose to be easier then the third, forth etc but more complex than the first.

All the techniques of the first group are suppose to be easier to learn and do then all of the techniques of the second group. And of course all the techniques in the second group progress from simple to complex the same way it does in the first.

Anyway the progression is in place so that student may learn and master the fundamental throws and principles of Judo in a orderly and logical way.

Kano was an educator so his progression follows that of academia.


white belt: you learn how to breakfall, then again, again and again :) as you go more often/consistently, to classes, you get your conditioning up to "play judo", i.e. fall more often! there's a remote chance you learn (in theory) a few throws, and if you're luckiy, hopefully manage not to injure anyone else you train with. after a few months perfecting your breakfalling a zillion times (on both left and right sides of course!), get promoted to a yellow belt cause you now have "great form" while falling to the ground.

yellow/orange belts: ok now you start to get the hang of a few uchikomi and how to count in Japanese, but still don't have a clue how to do most throws very well. you probably use strength like crazy while doing newaza and wonder (or swear?) out loud how the hell the brown and black belts pin the crap out of you or make you tap like crazy? about a year of swearing or so later, and knowing how to count to ten in Japanese you become a green belt.

green and blue belt: this is about the time you discover internet chat forums and start offering opinions about judo (like you're an expert), especially to national or Olympic level judoka. lol .... your uchikomis are probably better now, but in randori you tend to favour brawling tactics like morote-gari, weird-ass leg trips and shoving your training partners around because you don't grip fight (what's that?!?) this is also around the time you injure your first brown or (darn it) black belt -- that was probably trying to help you out. how'd it happen, well lets see, you probably tried one of those dumb ass moves that you thought would work, but haven't really practiced, and totally the opposite of what that brown or black belt was telling you to do. after getting chastized repeatedly in every class to "do proper judo", and enduring it for about another 6 months to a year, you magically get promoted to brown.

brown belt: now your a badass! ;) ... black belts fear you cause losing to you in randori is shameful!!! but every now and then, you get your ass kicked by an orange belt, yellow belt, or worse, a BIG white belt and then you hang your head in shame. DAMN! but then you figure out, holy cow, the secret to judo is actually doing combinations! but you don't practice them as much since your Sensei may be having you help out with beginners or oh-my-god, doing judo kata! judo has kata? by now you've also probably competed a few times and gained a win-loss record that sounds a whole lot better if you reverse the ratio order. also, if you haven't bought at least one other gi by now, you pretty much stink in class. the black belts will tell you that when doing newaza -- and if you're lucky they're talking about your gi, not your techniques 8)

also now depending on your finances, your wife's permission (unless you're college aged), you hang around as a brown belt for possibly up to a decade ... j/k ... sort of depends on what life throws at you.

and soon ...

black belt: your grading comes up sooner than you expected, making you realize, crap, there's a whole lot of etiquette, throws, and other things in judo that you don't know! hey how do you tie a belt?? you also need to relearn your breakfalls, again, again, and again cause now your Sensei say you do them like sh*t. but lo an behold, you miraculously pass your grading, and "graduate". at this point, you either compete alot more (if you're a youngin), quit (why???), or hang around the dojo and try to avoid as much randori as possible -- especially with the hotshots in the club. you sometimes wear your blackbelt to sleep and can now impress your wife/girlfriend/signifcant other that you've learned more in judo than how to get tea-bagged while pinned in kamishiho-gatame, you can actually escape!

all of the above wisdom is what Kano decided not to tell new recruits to judo. geez, who'd stick around for that? .... must be dumbasses like us! :)


any good dvds that teach breakfalls?

lol, thanks JCJ

anyone? breakfalls?

GUerilla Jiu-Jitsu by David Camarillo. Best instructional on falling ive seen in awhile. Not to mention, but he goes ito great detail on basic grips and posture plus quite a lot of throwing and then advanced transitions and more. It is a wonderfully comprehensive text.

I've heard the Keith Schwartz Judo 17 DVD set covers Ukemi (Breakfalling), as well as every thing else.

JCJ nailed it on the head big-time!!! My experience exactly. I'm brown now and looks like I'll be here for a while ...


The USJF and USJA both specify six adult kyus. The USJF uses the following belt colors: white, green, blue, brown, brown, brown. The USJA uses: yellow, orange, green, brown, brown, brown.

For the kids, the USJF specifies eleven kyus: white, white-yellow, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-green, green, green-blue, blue, blue-purple, and purple. The USJA specifies twelve junior kyus: the first two use yellow, the next two orange, the next two green, the next two blue, the next two purple, and the last two brown.

My club uses the USJF belt colors for both seniors and juniors. Don't know what is typical with other clubs.

how many years for black belt in judo?

Depends on the individual and the school.

In Japan is it fairly easy to get a black belt in Judo especially if you are a competitor. Most kids get their black belts before they graduate from high school. For some people that's only 4 or so years of training. Furthermore a black belt in Japan just doesn't carry the same meaning and value as it does in the western world. A black belt in Judo simply means one has master the basic principles and techniques of the art of Judo.

actually, in japan it means less than that.. a lot less. it means you understand how to take a good fall. a lot of people who are not dedicated to judo get BB's in Japan because of the High School they go to.

those who are serious about judo join their school teams, those who are not just take it in PE.

i just went to a tournament in japan and at some jr. high schools, the policy is that the 3rd graders on the jr. high team get a black just for being on the team, and the 1st and 2nd grade students wear a white. no other colors in between. and, some of those black belts sucked balls, jr. high or not.

JCJ, that's a great post!