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I found a graphic detailing belt colours according to ranks. In there, the last two judo ranks are red and white for 6-8th dan ranks and full red belts for 9 and 10th dan.

Is the highest judo belt really red? I thought it was black...

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5 Answers 5

It is, and it takes a LONG time to reach.

If you ever reach your 9th Dan, you get a red belt to wear. The white-red belt is gotten at the 6th Dan.

But at this stage, you need to wait between 8 or 10 years between each test. And it's not automatically given to you ... the internal federation will only give the highest Dan to people who actually have an impact on judo as a whole ... in the history, there have only been 15 people who were awarded a 10th Dan.

In Canada there have been only 4 poeple with a 9th Dan: Raymond Damblant, Hiroshi Nakamura, Yeiji Inouye, Yoshio Senda. Dr.Senda was the 1st ever, and died in 2009.

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Yes it is.

It actually goes Black -> Red White -> Red

Those Upper ranks tend to be more about service to the art.

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To be pedantic, do you have a source?... ^_~ –  Sardathrion May 20 at 6:35
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To add to the (excellent) answers already provided:

Black is an arbitrary color for an arbitrary level. This is why I've told people to be very, very dubious of special "black belt tracks."

There are two reasons for this:

First, "1 dan" (or its equivalent) is an arbitrary designation within the art. It indicates that you have learned whatever set of principles they think you should know to be whatever they consider a 1 dan. This isn't flippant: It is part of why some arts get you to "1 dan" relatively quickly where others it can take years and years to get there.

This means that while comparing 1 dans within a single art is fairly effectively, it breaks down somewhat even between schools in the same art and almost entirely when you transition between arts.

The second reason is that, even within different schools within the same art, they will use different belts. I've seen a "brown belt" and a "red belt" mean the same kup rank simply because the organization as a whole had no prescription and the individual schools used different belt color ordering.

Basically what it boils down to is that if an individual is a "black belt" or a "red belt" it doesn't mean a whole lot without knowing how long it takes/what it takes to get there and where that particular school/tradition considers that belt color in whatever ranking system they use.

…which of course all assumes they even use a graded ranking system and that it is represented by belts, neither of which are even entirely universal.

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You are correct. Red belts are the highest level that one could obtain, 9th Dan being the highest level a normal person could become and 10th Dan which is reserved for the Head of the foundation or Ex Heads..

Usually for 3rd DAN and above, any promotion would no longer be based solely on your technical skills, but by your contribution to the JUDO society. Contributions such as organizing international Judo events in your country, participating in international seminar or competitions, and other activity that would uplift the image of JUDO.

Mind you these were verbal explanation of my sensei who's a 5th Dan belt holder.

Aside from that, Judo and BJJ also share similar belt grading system and according to the official belt ranking system, if you obtained your black belt at the age of 19, you would only be getting your 9th dan belt (Red) at the age of 67yrs old.

Quoting the Super Awesome BJJ Foundation:

Current IBJJF regulations places the time it takes to progress from a 8th degree red-and-black belt to 9th degree red belt at 10 years. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the red belt is reserved “for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art”. It is awarded in lieu of a 9th and 10th degree black belt (identical to the art of Judo). Assuming that someone received his or her black belt at 19 years old (the minimum age to receive a black belt under the IBJJF’s graduation system) the earliest they could expect to receive a 9th degree red belt would be at the age of 67. Examples of 9th Degree Red Belt holders include the late Carlson Gracie, Oswaldo Fadda and Geny Rebello. The 10th degree red belt is permanently reserved to the pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Carlos, Oswaldo, Jorge, Gastão and Hélio Gracie.

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The Red colour is used to show the intense desire to train and the sacrifices made in achieving it. Since getting a white/red or pure red belt meant you invested a large portion of your life to your chosen art.

Also a lot of (Japanese Martial Art) systems theoretically have unlimited rankings so there could be 11th or even higher DAN ratings. It is just that no one has ever achieved it. :-)

But different organisations have different rules about what ranks you could achieve and what the requirements are. But all martial arts using this system got it from JUDO.

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judoinfo.com/obi.htm –  AquaAlex May 29 at 12:30
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This has several inaccuracies. Shodokan Aikido has red belts for 8th, 7th, and 6th kyu grades, the colour having nothing to do with investing a large portion of your life. Not all martial arts use Kano's grading system, Muay Thai and Capoeira to name but two. –  Sardathrion May 29 at 12:56
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Also, many (if not most) karate/tkd styled systems only have 9 dan grades, with the 9th dan being reserved for head of the art. 10th dan (if used) is more ceremonial than achievement based. –  JohnP May 29 at 14:19
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I suspect some of the criticism of this answer is due to the first paragraph making an assertion about judo, and it not being clear whether "some systems" in the second paragraph is "of judo" or in general, but a little googling of my own shows claims of 11th and 12th dans in judo: budokan-vernier.ch/eng/histo/ceintures.html. And for the last paragraph, @Sardathrion seems to have missed the "all martial arts using this system" (true), and if red means other things at other levels in other arts, so what?. So +1 from me. –  Tony D Jun 1 at 4:52
    
He is right in saying there are no dan limit in judo. You could technically advange higher, but no one have ever. –  Thierry Savard Saucier Jun 3 at 11:27
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