Many years ago, around 15 or a little bit more, I practised karate. I was a child and reached 9th kyu. Now I want to come back to the karate.

Should I start from 9th kyu or I should start from the beginning?


3 Answers 3


Your kyu rank is relative to the style (and dojo) that you practiced at when you were 15. Realistically, no matter what the style 9th kyu is barely more than beginner.

I'd suggest you start again from white belt (whatever kyu that happens to be in the dojo you'll be attending). If you remember stuff then you should be able to advance fairly quickly. I've trained at other dojos as a white belt even once I had my black, it can be enlightening getting back in at that level.

  • 1
    When I accepted students from other schools, I always permitted them to retain their old rank - after all, it was earned. However, when I practiced a martial art that was not my native one, I chose to adopt the white belt and moved up the ranks normally.
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 31, 2019 at 20:38
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    Also, dropping back to white-belt could help OP to pace themselves - I have lost count of the number of students I've had return after a break of even just 6 months or a year, who forget that they are no longer in the same shape they were, and try to train as though they never left. Throwing kicks they can no longer quite reach, powering through kihon and kata they don't have the stamina for, ignoring advice to "take it easy" or "ease into it" until that first twinge forces them to pause and take stock. Feb 19, 2019 at 9:00

Firstly, whatever you learned fifteen years ago might be muddled by age and memory lose. I would not rely on it. Secondly, since it was a child's rank and not adult, the syllabus might have been radically different. Finally, after any long break period, it is advisable to start again as a beginner. If it all comes back, you can wear your old coloured belt. If it all comes back, any good teacher should see it and promote you to where they think you should be. Besides, whatever your belt colour is matter less than what you know.

Start from the beginning again and enjoy the journey.

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    Seconding this, I had a student start (in TKD) after a similar length of gap 6 months ago, he started at white belt (10th kup), his movement came back quickly so in his first test we promoted to green belt (6th kup) and in the next we will probably grade to blue (4th kup). The belt is supposed to reflect your ability - to allow you to see your progress and to help your instructors teach you. Starting with a high belt will stop both of these benefits
    – Collett89
    Jan 31, 2019 at 10:51
  • @Collett89 Just as an alternative voice on this, I had a long break on karate. My movements came back, so my kata worked well and I got triple-graded first off. But my timing and focus were crap, so I had a few accidents where I hurt people, then I slowed myself down, and then I started getting hurt. In the end I had to quit because my confidence was shot, and I never got it back. I can do jiu jitsu and have plenty of fun with a 20-stone guy trying to rip my head off. But ask me to face off with punches, and I only have a choice between literally try to kill them or panic and freeze.
    – Graham
    Jan 31, 2019 at 18:04
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    @Collett89 ... Just to say that in my case, my instructor pushing me ahead was way more damaging than letting me progress more slowly and get my feel for it back. I may have looked great, but I didn't have the basics.
    – Graham
    Jan 31, 2019 at 18:06
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    @Graham there seems to be two different issues here - if your timing is off on your general movements - that would mean that you aren't performing them correctly and shouldn't have been advanced - the same goes for focus. If this was sparring only (or only apparent here) having a student with powerful movements and not so much control I wouldn't want them battering my beginners - I'd also have my higher grades banned for hurting them. Regardless of what belt they were actually wearing.
    – Collett89
    Feb 1, 2019 at 8:14

In addition to the points made above, as someone who has found himself in this situation before, your teachers may decide to promote you more than one rank at a time (less of an issue at 9th kyu, but something to keep in mind). In that situation, I'd advise pushing back if they try to charge you multiples of the testing fee. The purpose of testing fees is to cover expenses, and testing you once to advance you three belts doesn't cost any more than testing you once to advance one belt. This is especially the case if you don't receive the intermediate belts (something I've occasionally rued with a bit of humor, as one of the Tae Kwan Do schools I was fastracked in had the famed "camo belt", although I know I could readily enough just buy one of my own).

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    Yes - the dreaded double grading fee - a sure fire sign that your instructor is more concerned with money than the art or the students. Sadly too common
    – Collett89
    Feb 6, 2019 at 14:57
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    @Collett89: On the flip side of things, I can see where someone might see it as "unfair" to have one student pay $200 in testing fees over the space of 5 belts and another $80. That said, I suspect someone actually concerned with fairness would realize the error if it's discussed with them, particularly if it's pointed out that someone might pay $280 for the same five belts if they failed two tests. Feb 6, 2019 at 15:03
  • if they want to minimise testing fees they could never grade - train for a few years - and then take the black belt straight off. as that $200 would be spread over 1 - 2 years typically it wouldn't compare to the training fees anyway. But being charged that amount in ~6 months - could nearly double the outlay (and as you suggest in your answer - is just lining the instructors pockets). I have had a parent question why I only charged them a single grading fee for a double grading suggesting people can and do get away with that behaviour
    – Collett89
    Feb 6, 2019 at 15:16

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