The Krav Maga Belt Grading System curriculum was dictated to a student of Imi Lichtenfeld, the father and founder of Krav Maga, in one day, outlining the basics of what would be later developed and improved into the ranking system we see today. I did this to be recognized in the martial arts family and all manners of fighting sports. The uniforms he decided to use closely resemble Judo uniforms and uses a similar ranking system.
Krav Maga has six different belt levels. A new student will start from Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, Black, and the various Dan levels within the Black belt ranking. It can take a dedicated student between one to four years to reach Black Belt 6th, Dan. Master and Expert levels follow after.
Since Krav Maga started as a self-defense system that Imi developed due to the need to protect his village from anti-Semitic rioters, the belt grading system didn’t develop until after 1964. The only visible uniform early students had, were military shirts Imi gave them to train in. In 1987 Eyal Yanilov created a new curriculum that carried Imi’s approval. Today the colored belts are still used, and as the world has changed, he has made upgrades to the curriculum and the grading system up to the 5th Level Expert Black Belt.
Explaining The Krav Maga Belt System
The belt system in Krav Maga consists of various levels that the student needs to pass through. The grading is strict, and you will need to show dedication to passing from one belt level to another. Technique and execution are critical. Let’s look at each belt and what the requirements are;
The Beginner To Yellow Belt
As a beginner, white belt, or level 1, you will be introduced to some of Krav Maga’s history. You should be taught about its origin, its purpose, and what you can expect to achieve as you progress.
The most important three things in Krav Maga are;
The FUNDAMENTALS of Krav Maga are:
- Do NOT get hurt while training,
- Always use natural movements and reactions’ for defense and combine them with the immediate and decisive counter attack.
- simultaneous defense and attack while never occupying both hands in the same defense movement
Other essential techniques in the beginner level would be:
- Wrist Locks
- Eye gouges
- Palm heel strikes
- Ground movements
- Effective kicks
The groundwork for any sport, martial art, or self-defense system is to have the foundation solid. Each student will need to attend at least 40 classes in the Beginner or Level 1 curriculum to pass on to the Yellow Belt. It should take you around four months to complete Level 1.
The Orange Belt
After grading through Level 1, the following belt insight will be the Orange or Level 2. In this part of the curriculum, you will learn more technical aspects of Krav Maga. What you can expect to start learning in Level 2 is;
- Additional punching techniques.
- How to get out of a bear hug.
- Chokes with pulling techniques.
- Defense techniques while on the ground.
- Defense against a choke while being mounted.
- Controlled drills and sparring in a live simulated exercise.
Usually, a student must attend between 60 to 90 lessons over a minimum of six months to 9 months. All these techniques and more will be executed under stress to simulate a real-life situation.
The Green Belt
Advancing from the Orange to the Green belt or Level 3 will start you on a journey where you will begin to learn what the body is capable of. In addition to what you mastered in the Level 2 curriculum, you will now be required to know the following;
- Knife defense and disarming
- Blunt objects, sticks
- Head butts
- Sparring drills
- Outside defenses – palm, extended arm, roll overhead
- Defend headlocks
- Double leg takedown
- Single leg extension takedown
To grade for the next belt, students must attend at least 120 classes or 12 months of training, several training workshops, and Fight Introduction classes.
The Blue Belt
After training on Krav Maga for almost two years now, you should be able to transition to training towards your Blue belt or Level 4. To become the best, you need to continue learning and advancing your skills.
The Blue belt curriculum is demanding and more extended, and you will start to work with all sorts of simulated situations. Here you will learn more of the following;
- Striking combinations
- Baton Strike defenses
- Knife attacks
- Kick defenses
- Grabs and chokes
- Defenses from the neutral position
- Attacks from the neutral position
To grade for your Blue belt or Level 4, you will be required to attend a minimum of 120 classes over 12 months, as well as the prerequisite workshops needed.
The Brown Belt
After training in the Blue belt curriculum for the minimum required 12 months or 120 lessons, you succeeded in grading. You can decide to advance to Brown Belt or Level 5.
In the Brown belt curriculum, you will be trained in the following;
- No telegraph strikes.
- Jumping kicks.
- Defense from a neutral position.
- All falls, rolls, and chokes from Yellow belt level.
- All grabs and chokes from Yellow belt level.
- All weapons defense
- Third-party defense
For the Brown belt Level 5 curriculum, you will be required to train for a minimum of 120 lessons over 12 months. You will then be invited to graduate with the Brown belt for the possible advancement to Black belt Level 6.
The Black Belt
In the Black belt levels, there are 5 Dans. Each invitee student will be required to do the grading in Israel, as is the tradition in Krav Maga. When you grade for the first Dan, three senior Black belt holders will preside over your grading.
You will not be tested on how much you know. Instead, it is how your execution of the techniques is applied. You will be required to have trained for at least ten years before you can take your Black Belt 1st Dan grading. This means you need to commit fully. Below is a brief description of the Dan levels;
1st Dan Black Belt
You will be tested not only on your knowledge of Krav Maga’s fundamentals but technically, you need to know the entire Krav Maga curriculum from Yellow belt to Black.
There are 49 Black belt topics that you will be required to know and apply. Most importantly, you will be asked to demonstrate your execution. You will endure a multiple-person attack, left and right sides, and show the ability to execute all the variants within each topic.
2nd Dan Black Belt –
After you have practiced and trained in 1st Dan for five years, you can be invited to grade to 2nd Dan. You will need to show proficiency in 52 topics and the 220 techniques in each one.
There will be five examiners present of 4 and 5th Dan rankings.
3rd Dan Black Belt –
Considered to be the most critically important level of the Dans, your proficiency will be tested to the maximum. You will cover 30 topics and within them 120 techniques each and all of the multiple attacker variants;
- Applications – Lethal Force
- Defense – military
- Law enforcement work – advanced levels
- Personal Protection
- K9 attack defense
- Vehicle confrontation
- Entering and clearing a building or room.
- Weapon deployment
For your grading, there should be at least two 5th Dan practitioners present. You will need to have trained for five years within your Black belt 1st Dan to qualify for 2nd Dan.
4th Dan Black Belt –
In this curriculum, you will need to demonstrate expertise in military and security techniques. This segment concentrated more on advanced levels of teaching, urban warfare, and proficiency in teaching. You will need to train for six years in your 3rd Dan to qualify for the 4th Dan invitation.
5th Dan Black Belt –
Not many students take it to this level; it is advanced and is only by invitation of the Grand Master. Your training for the last 16 years plus will be tested, tried, and weighed. You will be taught how to teach and grade others for the future.
Krav Maga is considered to be the world’s top self-defense method. The belt grading system in KM indicates each student’s skill, proficiency, and expertise and, more importantly, that they have put in many hours of hard training and have been recognized for it by their instructors.