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How many belts are there before I reach black?

At the dojo at McMaster, there are 6 kyu belts that must be attained prior to grading for 'shodan' (black belt). The first belt you get just for stepping on the floor - white or 6th kyu belt. Next is yellow (5th kyu), orange (4th kyu), green (3rd kyu), blue (2nd kyu) and brown (1st kyu).

Often you will seen brown belts with a black strip all along their belt - this 'stripe' has been granted by Sensei and is an indicator to the student that they are ready to start preparing in earnest for a black belt grading.

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