This post is the first in a series covering the Goju Ryu grading syllabus from 9th kyu (white belt with a black stripe) to shodan.

There are many Goju Ryu organizations around and each has its own curriculum and grading requirements which can vary substantially.

The grading requirements specified in this series are largely based on the grading syllabus of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (IOGKF).

If your dojo is not affiliated with the IOGKF, this series still provides a good overview of the curriculum of the largest traditional Okinawan Karate organization in the world.

This post provides a summary of the Goju Ryu Grading syllabus for 9th kyu (white belt with a black stripe).

Table of Contents

General rules

As a general rule, you will be graded to the next belt when your instructor thinks you are ready and invites you to grade. Please never ask your instructor if you can grade simply because there is a grading session coming up.

Some of you may set goals of getting to a certain level after one, two, or three years of training, etc. to keep yourself motivated and that is perfectly fine.

However, if you join a decent dojo, your instructor will ask you to grade and award you a higher belt only when he or she thinks you have earned it.

If you think you deserve to get to the next level but have not been asked to grade, that may be because your instructor is testing your mental resolve. I know cases where instructors would not ask a student to grade because they are not 100% sure, only to allow the student to skip a grade at the next grading session.

Not only technical abilities but other factors such as attitude, dedication, and physical conditions are also taken into consideration to determine whether you should grade for the next belt.

For example, if you have knee problems that prevent you from doing a kick higher than your knee levels or if you have a hand injury that stop you from doing hiki uke properly, you wouldn’t be held back because of those issues.

If you have been asked to grade, it is almost certain that you will pass. Your instructor would not have asked you to grade if they did not think you were ready. However, in rare cases, nerves can get the better of you, and you might fail to meet the requirements of the grading. But this is not something you should worry too much about.

So, have confidence in yourself, always put in 100% effort and focus on your grading (just like you do in your daily training) and everything will fall into place eventually. And remember, for your 9th kyu grading, I do not believe any instructor would ask you to grade and then fail you at your very first grading!

Give karate your full commitment

If you try out karate for the very first time in your life, chances are you are testing out to see if karate is the right fit for you and that’s fair enough.

If this is you, I highly recommend you put 100% effort into your training for the first 3 to 6 months and go all in.

Treat your karate classes as an important appointment that you can’t miss. Schedule them in your calendar and make them a priority. Pay attention to your instructors and follow their guidance. Practice at home whenever you can, and immerse yourself in karate culture by reading about it, watching videos, and following events.

By investing your time and energy into your training, you will start to experience some of the physical and mental benefits of karate. This will give you a better understanding of what karate is all about and help you make an informed decision about whether you want to continue your journey or not.

On the other hand, if you approach your training half-heartedly, you won’t see the full benefits that karate has to offer, and you won’t have a solid foundation on which to make your decision.

Remember, success in karate, like in anything else, requires commitment and dedication. A half-hearted effort will yield half-hearted results. Give it your all, embrace the journey, and see where it takes you.

Minimum training time

You will need to train for at least 3 months with regular attendance (at least twice a week) to be able to grade to 9th kyu.

Karate terms

At this level, you are required to know some basic karate terms in Japanese including counting, basic techniques, basic stances, and general terms such as:

  • ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, juu (one to ten)
  • sensei (instructor)
  • dojo (place of training)
  • shugo (line up)
  • obi (belt)
  • gi (uniform)
  • rei (bow)
  • seiza (kneel)
  • mokuso (meditate)
  • onegaishimas (please teach me)
  • arigato gozaimashita (thank you very much, past tense)
  • hajime (begin)
  • yame (stop)
  • yoi (ready)
  • kamae (ready fighting posture)
  • junbi undo (warm-up)
  • kihon (basic)
  • kumite (sparring)
  • migi (right)
  • hidari (left)
  • mae (front)
  • ushiro (back)
  • zenkutsu dachi (forward stance)
  • heisoku dachi (feet together)
  • musubi dachi (v-shape, formal attention stance)
  • hachiji dachi (letter 8 stance)
  • shiko dachi (square stance)
  • kiba dachi (horse-riding stance).


You will be asked to perform basic techniques such as punches (jodan, chudan, gedan), basic blocks (age uke, yoko uke, and gedan barai), and basic kicks (kin geri, mae geri, and mawashi geri).

At this level, only basic forms are expected.


You are required to perform Gekisai Dai Ichi kata but you only need to know the basic sequence of the kata.


You are required to perform Sandan Gi number 1 drill with a partner. You will be performing both the attacking side (jodan tsuki, chudan tsuki and gedan tsuki) and defending side (age uke, yoko uke, and gedan barai).

Again, you only need to know the basic pattern of the drill.

You might also be asked to take part in light contact randori just to be familiar with it but won’t b graded on it.


You may have to go through a fitness test that includes push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, air squats, squat thrusts, star jumps, or a mile run, etc.

This may happen at the beginning of the grading session to fatigue you and see how you perform under pressure and exhaustion.

The specific fitness tests can vary greatly from dojo to dojo. As an example, you may be required to perform 30 reps of each of the following:

  • push-ups
  • sit-ups
  • crunches
  • air squats
  • star jumps
  • burpees.

Like other parts of the curriculum, your fitness test will progressively become more challenging as you move up the ranks.

Other posts you might be interested in:

An Overview of the Goju Ryu Karate Belt System

What Is the Purpose of “Chambering” in Karate?

A Complete List of Goju Ryu Stances

San Dan Gi and How to Get the Most Out of These Drills


What to expect when you undergo a EGKA/IOGKF Grading

English Goju Ryu Karate-do Association – Student Handbook

The IOGKF/EGKA Grading Syllabus Library