Do You Have to Earn a White Belt in Judo?

Judo is one of the most popular martial arts with a belt system in the world and is a sport that almost everybody who wants to become a martial artist will consider. People frequently ask how people might earn a white belt in Judo.

You do not have to earn a white belt in Judo. You “earn” your Judo white belt when you step onto the mat and commit to taking your first class. A white belt in Judo is awarded at the very beginning of your Judo training and comes with the Judo gi.

Now that we know that simply stepping onto the mat earns you your white belt, let’s take a look at what being a Judo white belt actually means in the context of this martial art.

How Long Does It Take to Get a White Belt in Judo?

You gain the rank of a white belt in Judo by attending your first class. It is the first belt awarded and represents the purity and newness of the beginning student. This comes from the traditional martial arts mythos where a white belt slowly becomes dirty and turns black as you gain experience.

How Long Do You Stay a White Belt in Judo?

Most Judo schools require you to reach a certain competency level to earn your next belt promotion in order to keep their students safe. Time spent at the white belt varies based on the student, but you can expect to spend between 3 months and 6 months to get your first promotion to the yellow belt.

What Is a White Belt in Judo?

A white belt in Judo is a complete beginner. The white belt signifies the beginning of their journey within the martial art. A Judo white belt will usually only have a small amount of experience in Judo, typically less than 6 months of training.

What is Expected of a White Belt in Judo?

A beginning white belt judoka is expected to learn and apply the culture of their dojo and learn traditional Japanese phrases as pertains to training Judo. Early on a judoka will need to learn how to fall safely and learn basic movements, drills, and throws.

Does Judo Award Stripes to White Belts?

Judo does not have a stripe system for white belts. A Judoka will have to measure their progress based on their own readiness for whatever testing system their Judo club has to get promoted to yellow belt, which is the next one after the white belt.

Judo clubs will have expectations for each belt rank in terms of time and competency. This SAGA Judo page shows the expectations a Judo club is likely to have to get to the next rank of yellow belt. Most Judo schools also require testing for belt levels.

What are the Belt Ranks in Judo?

The official Judo belt ranking system used by the USJF is here. A simple summary by belt color for each grouping is below.

For juniors that are 16 and under:

  1. White
  2. White/Yellow
  3. Yellow
  4. Yellow/Orange
  5. Orange
  6. Orange/Green
  7. Green
  8. Green/Blue
  9. Blue
  10. Blue/Purple
  11. Purple
  12. Black

For seniors that are 17 and over:

  1. White
  2. Green
  3. Blue
  4. Brown
  5. Black
  6. Red/White
  7. Red

If you want to learn a bit more about the context of what the belts represent, I recommend checking out the video below.

Are Judo White Belts Allowed to Compete?

There are novice divisions in tournaments where Judo white belts are allowed to compete. However, many Judo clubs encourage you to train for a certain amount of time before you compete. Oftentimes, it is recommended that you wait until the green belt if you are an adult.

Final Thoughts

Getting your white belt in Judo is pretty simple, but is an important first step to beginning your Judo journey. At this rank, you will be working on understanding your place and figuring out how to effectively move your body, and how to learn the basics of Judo.

For more check out How To Care for Your Judo Gi.


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

Recent Posts