A grading is where you go up a rank in your particular club, at IJR Karate we use the Kyu/Dan system, the starting grading being white belt which is 9th Kyu, and the Kyu number goes down as they progress towards the famous black belt, for example yellow belt would be 8th Kyu. Then once a student reaches 1st Kyu (Brown belt black stripe) the next grade is Black! Which is where you go onto the Dan grades, the first being 'Shodan', 1st Dan or first level, then as they progress onwards their Dan grade will get higher, the next grade being 2nd Dan or 'Nidan' Highest possible Dan grade to reach is 10th Dan or 'Judan' but often takes a lifetime to get to and the are only a handful of true 10th Dans around.
Unfourtunately there are many clubs around that focus more on the business side of things rather than the teachings, and will award grades here there and everywhere! Regardless of standard or attitude of the student. Karate isn't always about technical ability, a true karate-ka embraces the mental benefits that karate has to offer. To me attitude is far more important than physical skill. Another thing that certain clubs do is have a minimum time scale for each grade, this is something that we do not do until the Dan grades. Different students learn at different rates and having a minimum time like that puts pressure on them, once you are ready you will grade, at IJR we are always aware of student progression and how they are doing.
For children starting out in karate the first couple of belts in the system can be huge steps, and can often take a while to achieve, sometimes disheartening them and making them lose interest. For that reason, we have added two extra belts for children near the beginning, the first is 8th kyu-ho (white belt yellow stripe) between white and yellow, and acts as a provisional yellow belt, and the second is 7th kyu-ho (yellow belt orange stripe) between yellow and orange belt and acts as a provisional Orange belt.
Also you will notice that we have a provisional black belt or 'junior black belt' on our children's syllabus. We have added this because we feel that becoming a black belt is a big deal, and requires a certain amount of maturity to fill the responsibility, so this grade in some ways tests the student to make sure they are ready to become an IJR black belt before moving onto their first full Dan grade.
Listed here is the belt grade order that we use for our club's syllabus
9th kyu - White belt
8th kyu - Yellow belt
7th kyu - Orange belt
6th kyu - Green belt
5th kyu - Blue belt
4th kyu - purple belt
3rd kyu - Brown belt white stripe
2nd kyu - Brown belt
1st kyu - Brown belt black stripe
Shodan - 1st Dan black belt
Nidan - 2nd Dan black belt
Sandan - 3rd Dan black belt
Yondan - 4th Dan black belt
Godan - 5th Dan black belt