Belts, Belts, We Got You Some Belts

Posted: June 9, 2011 in Belts

Unlike most other martial arts, belts are not universally adopted in Krav Maga.  In fact, in many schools’ belts are not even used!  Instead of belts many schools use grades or groups named Practitioner, Graduate, Expert, and Master. Patches are used by some, belts by others, and nothing at all by some schools.

The school I attend is affiliated with Krav Maga Worldwide (which itself is based on a 5 belt system).  You start out not as a White belt but as a Yellow belt (equivalent to Practitioner), progress to Orange (Practitioner), Green (Practitioner/Graduate), Blue (Graduate), Brown (Graduate), then through 5 degrees of Black (Expert/Master) — if you live that long.

As I understand it, as my school became affiliated with Worldwide, there was some negotiating with the organization to keep the belt system already in place, a system that the school founder and teaches believed very strongly in.  This was agreed to and today the school has 10 belts: White, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Brown, Red, Red/Black, and Black.  The belts take various amounts of time to achieve depending both of how often you train as well as the belts themselves (i.e., some belts just take longer, such as Black).

Further, my school has two broad classes for adults, a Basic Training group (Practitioners, I presume) as well as an Advanced Training group (Graduates and Experts, though I am not sure where the line is in the belt rankings).  The Basic group contains us newbies and ranges from White belt up through and including Orange belts.  Most of the group is out of shape, sheepishly watching the Advanced students from the sidelines as they confidently strut their advanced stuff and pretend they’re not being watched.

As I understand it (again, at least in my school), it’s customary for a student to be part of the Basic group for about 9 months.  The promotion through each belt in the group includes a stripe on the belt during the last week of each month.  If the student is showing the right progress they get a stripe.  After three stripes, a belt promotion.

Once one is bumped out of Orange into Purple they start all over at the “bottom” as they get promoted into the Advanced class, a place where, in some ways, the “real” training for Black belt begins.

  1. […] Belts, Belts, We Got You Some Belts […]

  2. kravlady says:

    Huh. Interesting, I’m with IKMF and we work with the patch system. Each patch/grade has its own curriculum which is clearly outlined so you know what to prepare for with each exam. (Doesn’t make the exams any less hellish, though). Do the belts have the same outlined curriculum?

  3. Hi, Kravlady. Thanks for the comment. Yes, we do (seem to) follow a curriculum but I have yet to see it in any formal presentation, actually written down for reference. There are clearly techniques that are necessary to be eligible for a belt but, at least so far, it’s a bit clouded in mystery. I will update the blog as I learn more. As you saw in this post, I am still trying to “map” our belt system to other Krav Maga belt/patch systems because even within KMWW we aren’t consistent. Mapping our belts with other schools and organizations gives me a frame of reference to compare my progress with other schools and students.

    • kravlady says:

      I’d like to help with that, because that’s also one of my (planned) projects! We could do a cross-posting thing (if you’re interested… ;P) because I’m ALSO confused!

      The curriculum for our P1-P5 grades is online (privately) at my training center, so I have that available for reference. We’d mostly need the curriculum from KMG and KMW or something, which might be available on request…

      Actually, I’ll do a facebook request for info first, I’ve a lot of instructors who follow me. If you’re interested in a co-op just send me an email and we can compare the curriculum for the first level!


      • More than willing to help out where I can. As I said, it’s a bit shrouded in mystery to me right now. I have been meaning to ask the instructors, even prior to this conversation, if there was any curriculum specific to our school that could be used as reference. This will be more incentive to do that.

        I can tell you that the two Krav Maga books I reference in another blog post are sanctioned by KRW and show techniques by belt from top to bottom. Although there’s no summary of techniques by belt in a cheat sheet format it groups the belt material into their own dedicated chapters. If I get my “mapping” of my school’s belts to that book (“standard” KMW belts Yellow through Brown) it would likely unlock the mystery or at least clear up some questions.

        I have been following along in the book after I attend classes to see if things I am learning are in chapter one and so far (unsurprisingly, I suppose) things are lining up that way.

    • kravlady says:

      Hm, quite the interesting conversation on my wall…

      • Wow, a blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook. You are hard to keep up with 😉

        As with so many other schools and martial arts styles, many have their own unique system, sometime subtly different, sometimes majorly. The back story for the belts at my school is that they already existed in the school prior to being affiliated with KMW but they somehow negotiated a retention of the belt system they already established because they felt strongly about showing progress in smaller increments (i.e., belts). Instead of training a year for some belts, for example, you might only have 3 – 6 months of training for a belt.

        Do you learn less? Is the school wrong? Is the school or belt system inferior? No, I don’t think so. It’s just different. And, to tell you the truth, I actually like the smaller belt increments, to be honest. If it doesn’t line up with “Krav Maga belt purists”, oh well.

        This topic is getting close to a draft post I’m working on called “My Style Can Beat Up Your Style”. Stay tuned if interested!

  4. Here’s a curriculum for Krav Maga but, wouldn’t you know it, it is very vague on the affiliation:

  5. And here’s one for KMW, located at

    I. Stance

    A. Neutral Stance
    B. Fighting Stance

    II. Movement

    A. Forward, Back, Left, Right
    B. Shadow Boxing
    C. Movement while on the Ground

    III. Punches

    A. Straight Punch
    B. Straight Punch ñ left/right combination
    C. Palm Heel Strike
    D. Eye Strike/Throat Strike
    E. Straight Punch with an Advance
    F. Straight Punch with a Retreat
    G. Straight Punch Low
    H. Hammer-fist Strikes (all directions)
    I. Elbows (1 – 7)

    IV. Kicks

    A. Front Kick
    B. Front Kick – Vertical Target
    C. Round Kick (vertical, diagonal, horizontal)

    V. Knees

    A. Straight forward knee
    B. Diagonal round knee
    C. Inward angle knee

    VI. Punch/Kick Combinations

    A. Front kick to groin and hammer-fist down
    B. Front kick to groin and straight punch

    VII. Punch Defenses

    A. 360 outside Defenses – positions
    B. 360 outside defenses – moving attacks
    C. Inside defenses against straight punches
    D. Inside defenses against low straight punches
    E. Inside and 360 defenses against punches

    VIII. Choke Defenses

    A. Choke from the Front (1 – hand pluck)
    B. Choke from the Front (2 – hand pluck)
    C. Choke from Behind
    D. Choke from the Side
    E. Choke from the Front with a Push
    F. Choke from Behind with a Push

    IX. Headlock Defenses

    A. Headlock from the Side

    X. Soft Techniques

    A. Wrist Release ñ Same Side Hand (elbow to elbow)
    B. Wrist Release ñ Opposite Hand (hitchhike out)
    C. Wrist Release ñ 2 Hands Held High
    D. Wrist Release ñ 2 Hands Held Down
    E. Wrist Release ñ Being held with 2 hands

    XI. Groundwork

    A. Movement
    B. Kicks on the Ground
    C. Getting Up
    D. Stripping/Clearing Foot Grab

  6. Here’s an interesting post that maps KMW belts to IKMF belts:

    Or course, I would need to go one step further to line my belts up with those but it gives me a good idea.

    • kravlady says:

      Yeah, the patch ranks and belts sort of correspond to each other, I’m just roughly curious about the curriculum too. Do you as a white belt learn the same stuff I do as a P0 student. 😉

      I’m just wondering whether there are any significant/large differences. The whole organisation thing is loaded with politics and I’m soooo not getting involved in that. It nearly derailed in that thread on my wall (heh), but they managed to keep it professional, fortunately. I’m also not judging at all, I don’t care how grading works, just wondering about content/curriculum.

      People should just do whatever they want and feel like and we’ll all be happy. 🙂

      And yeah, I’ve started with the blog, then twitter and added facebook about a week ago, which has greatly boosted my views and visitor counts. It sorta went viral up there. People are very enthusiastic and actually like reading my opinions. ;D

  7. Zvor says:

    Nice posts, how do they all correlate with IKM (Gabi Noah system), IKMA (Haim Gidon) and KMG? I feel as more and more organizations are formed (and splintered) then in 20 or so years we won’t be able to recognize each others Krav Maga! They would have naturally developed according to their respective Master and high ranking students.

    • Thanks, Zvor. I think there’s a fair amount of confusion as to how various belt and patch systems line up with other systems. I haven’t found any good reference and I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising since many schools, mine included, follow a pretty standard Krav Maga training curriculum but choose their own belt or patch system. For what it’s worth, I am not of the mind that things will eventually deviate so drastically from one school to another so radically that it will render Krav Maga unrecognizable from one to the next though. This isn’t too different from most other styles, in my humble opinion. There are unique belts systems elsewhere and, in the end, I don’t think it makes any difference other than times when you want to compare your progress to the progress of a student in another dojo with another belt system.

  8. […] had a controversial discussion with a Red/Black Belt the other day and I have been pondering it on and off since.  During my stretching routine we […]

  9. […] few weeks ago I earned my Brown Belt. I’ve written about belts at my school before, of course. It’s a natural thing to fixate on and, particularly to […]

  10. […] this is a bit overdue.  I celebrated by 2 years of training a month ago on June 1 and earned my Red Belt last week. Life tends to throw things at you that outweigh the blog. Better late than never is what […]

  11. […] I were to summarize my thoughts of the journey by belt so far it would go something like […]

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