Top 15 Martial Arts Styles (with All 182 Belt Colors and Grades)

Whether or not they are practicing martial arts, people tend to care a bit (or a lot…) about belt colors and grades. Just think about how much people talk about belt colors and how much people respect those who get the black belt.

But in fact, the black belt is not always the highest grade. In some martial arts styles, there are a whole different set of belt colors – and in some styles, it’s not about getting any belts at all!

To make things even more complicated, it turns out that the black belt is not just a black belt. Depending on the style, there might also different grades of black belts.

To get a good overview of the many belt colors and grades, we have made this graphic with all the belt colors and grades for 15 of the most popular martial arts styles.

Martial arts belts and grades

The black belt

As you can see, the black belt is the most common way of showing that a person has reached one of the highest degrees in their choosen style.

But maybe you have also noticed that the black belt can have different grades. Sometimes you can distinguish the black belts (for example in kyokushin karate, where the grade is marked with gold stripes on the belt) – and sometimes the black belts are all the same regardless of grade (for example in aikido).

It is interesting that the highest belt in ju jutsu and judo is red, which will be a surprise to most people – and most people will probably not even know that there exist a red-white striped belt.

Striped belts also exist for many kinds of kung fu, while the French martial art savate uses gold gloves as the highest grade.

Surprisingly, the first belts in wing chun are black, while the higher degrees are marked with red and yellow belts.

Not always the same colors

We did a lot of research to make the graphic, but you should be aware that the belt colors and grades aren’t always the same as in our graphic. In some countries, other belt colors are used to mark the grades and there are martial arts schools and groups that use their own system of colors and grades.

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