This post provides a summary of the Goju Ryu grading syllabus for the 8th kyu (yellow belt) based on the grading syllabus of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (IOGKF).

The post covers the following requirements at this level:

    This is your first color belt grading and it is a memorable and proud moment in many people’s karate journeys.

    Minimum training time

    Generally, you will need to train for at least 3 months with regular attendance (at least twice a week) since your last grading to be invited to grade to yellow belt (8th kyu). You will have trained for at least 6 months in total.

    Karate terms

    In addition to the terms that you should be familiar with at the 9th kyu level, you should know the following additional Japanese karate terms when going for your yellow belt grading:

    • Tsuki (punch)
    • Keri/geri (kick)
    • Age uke (rising block)
    • Yoko uke (block from inside out, also called uchi ude uke)
    • Soto ude uke (block from outside in)
    • Gedan barai (downward sweeping block)
    • Mae geri (front kick)
    • Kin geri (groin kick, but can also target inner thighs)
    • Mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
    • Ushiro geri (back kick)
    • Tai sabaki (body shifting)
    • Tsuri ashi (sliding footwork)
    • Mou ichi do (one more time)
    • Ganka (vital points just below the nipples)
    • Jinchu (refer to a vital point which is the dimple between the top lip and the nose)
    • Suigetsu (solar plexus)
    • Otagai-ni (toward each other)
    • Kime (focus point, a decisive finish)
    • Go (hard)
    • Ju (soft, flexible).

    It is unlikely that you would be asked what a particular term means, but you may be asked to perform a combination of techniques using Japanese terms, and you need to know what they mean to be able to perform them.

    While it might seem like there are a lot of terms to remember, if you train regularly 2-3 times a week and if your instructors use them consistently, you will have no problem memorizing those.

    The benefit of learning these Japanese terms is if you train in another dojo or another karate style or travel to Japan to attend seminars there, you will have very little difficulty following along because everybody is kind of “speaking” the same language.


    At this level, you are expected to be able to perform the following basic techniques in stationary positions (just general form is good enough, and there is no expectation as to the power and speed of your techniques):

    • Jodan tsuki (face level punch, aiming at around the jinchu area)
    • Chudan tsuki (middle-level punch, from your chin to suigetsu area)
    • Gedan tsuki (lower level punch between suigetsu and groin)
    • Sanbon tsuki (triple punches: jodan, chudan and gedan tsuki)
    • Age uke (rising block)
    • Yoko uke (block from inside out)
    • Soto uke (block from outside in)
    • Gedan barai (downward sweeping block)
    • Sanbon uke (triple blocks: age uke, yoko uke, and gedan barai)
    • Hiki uke (pulling hand block)
    • Tora guchi (tiger mouth block)
    • Kin geri (groin kick)
    • Mae geri (front kick)
    • Mawashi geri (roundhouse kick).

    The above are the fundamental karate techniques that you will spend many years learning and practicing. You will have noticed that every class begins with kihon and everybody will practice kihon whether they are a white belt or a blackbelt.

    The repeated kihon practice will help you understand body mechanics and how to use your body efficiently to generate power. Over time, these basic techniques will become second nature and part of your fighting repertoire.

    They also form the foundation of all kata and, if you don’t get your basics right, your kata performance will be affected.

    You will learn some new stances including han zenkutsu dachi (half zenkutsu dachi), heiko sanchin dachi (paralleled-hourglass stance) and neko ashi dachi (cat stance).

    You will also begin to be tested on some moving basics (kihon ido). Below are examples of some technique combinations that you need to perform while transitioning through stances:

    • Jodan oi tsuki, chudan gyaku tsuki (moving forward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Mae geri, gyaku tsuki (moving forward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Mawashi geri, gyaku tsuki (moving forward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Jodan age uke, gyaku tsuki (moving backward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Chudan yoko uke, gyaku tsuki (moving backward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Gedan barai uke, gyaku tsuki (moving backward, zenkutsu dachi stance)
    • Gedan barai uke (moving backward, shiko dachi stance)


    You will need to know your tachi kata or stance kata where you are required to demonstrate the following stances: heisoku dachi, musubi dachi, heiko dachi, hachiji dachi, kiba dachi, and shiko dachi in succession.

    You may also be asked to show some of the stances that you have learned in random order.

    You are required to perform Gekisai Dai Ichi in relatively good form at the 8th kyu level.

    You might have been shown some bunkai (applications of kata techniques) during your practice but you won’t be tested on this at the yellow belt level yet.


    Sandan Gi

    You are required to perform Sandan Gi number 1 & 2 drills with a partner and you will need to perform both the attacking and defending sides.

    While these are very simple and unrealistic-looking drills, they serve certain purposes, and performing them well still requires years of practice.

    San dan gi drills aim to help you with the following:

    • Improving your punching and kicking techniques (oi tsukimae gerikansetsu geri)
    • Improving your blocking techniques (age uke, yoko uke, soto uke, gedan barai)
    • Working on your stances and transitioning between stances
    • Working on your distance and timing
    • Body conditioning (full contact during the drills will help condition your arms).

    For tips on how to get the most out of your san dan gi drills, please check out this post.

    Randori kumite

    Randori kumite or soft freestyle sparring will be a part of your grading from now on.

    Because generally your ability to control power and keep a safe distance during kumite is still very limited at the yellow belt level, all techniques should have little or no power.

    The aim of this randori is to exchange techniques with your partner, test out technique combinations and work on your distance and timing. Things that the examiners will be looking for are:

    • Whether you are keeping your guard up throughout the drill
    • Whether you are maintaining eye contact with the opponent during the drill
    • Whether it looks like you are trying out technique combinations that you’ve learned or you are just throwing random punches and kicks.


    Kakie is practiced in Gjou Ryu and many other traditional Okinawan karate styles.

    You are only required to show basic kakie form (sticking hand practice) at this stage.

    Ukemi waza

    Ukemi waza (break-fall technique) is important to help protect yourself from injury during training as well as in actual combat situations.

    At the yellow belt level, you have only been introduced to ukemi waza and are only tested on break-fall techniques starting from on-ground positions, including:

    • side break-fall from an on-the-ground position (both left and right sides)
    • back break-fall from an on-the-ground position.


    Most Goju Ryu dojos include some form of fitness test either at the end or at the beginning of the grading and it will get tougher as you move up the ranks.

    The reason for this is pretty obvious, you need to build a strong body to become a strong fighter. Getting your techniques right is the most important part but building a strong body will take you even further.

    The specific fitness tests can vary greatly from dojo to dojo. As an example, at the yellow belt level, you may be required to perform 35 reps of each of the following:

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

    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 Syllabus

    English Goju Ryu Karate-do Association – Student Handbook

    The IOGKF/EGKA Grading Syllabus Library