In the Goju Ryu style, much like most karate styles and Japanese-influenced arts, a system
of grading is used to reflect the experience and ability of the student. The
requirements for each level vary in different schools and organizations, and even the
colors of the belts and their order are sometimes different. Kyu grades are
represented by colour belts, while Dan grades wear black belts. Some schools use red
and white belts at higher Dan grades, typically from 5th or 7th Dan and up, with red
reserved for 9th and 10th Dans or style heads. The red belt has also been used to
denote Shodan-Ho grades, junior black belts, and varying Kyu grades.
In a typical system, the order of Kyu belts is:
Some schools use a 10 Kyu system, with 3 different levels of brown belt (1st - 3rd Kyu). Others just use the colored belts as a guide. Some systems just use White - Green -Brown - Black, while others simply use White and Black only. Kyu belts are also referred to as "Mudansha", while black belts are referred to as "Yudansha". Titles are also used at times to represent Yudansha grades and teaching levels. Sensei (a term meaning "teacher", literally meaning "One who has gone before"), commonly refers to black belts that have teacher status. Shihan is a common term which basically means "teacher of teachers". If your students are themselves Sensei, then you could rightfully consider yourself a Shihan, although some organizations bestow this an honorific title officially. Other official titles include Kyoshi, Renshi and Hanshi, each awarded at the higher Dan levels. Heads of organizations are sometimes called Soke. Again, grading and titles are different in every branch of the style, as are times in grade before being considered for promotion. It is usually regarded as important only within the organizational structure of a specific system, and is not a universal measure of accomplishment.
In the Langley Dojo we use the following method of grading: