Krav Maga Belts

Krav Maga, the Israeli form of self-defense, is without a doubt one of the deadliest forms of martial arts being practiced today. It has taken a lot of concepts from Jujutsu, Aikido, Boxing, Judo, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, and others. The system of Krav Maga belts even stems from the same system in Judo.

If you are getting into Krav Maga then one of the first things you would want to understand is the belt system. This is the structure you will follow as you advance. Students will always keep their eyes on the next belt above their rank, always keeping sight of the next goal they need to achieve.

This ranking system has done well in Judo and Karate and it has done well too in Krav Maga. Because of this ranking system students do everything in their power to master the art and achieve the next rank possible.

Krav Maga Belts and Ranking System

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The Basics of the Krav Maga Belt Structure

As mentioned above, Krav Maga takes its inspiration from Judo. Judo was the first martial art that utilized the concept of belts to rank its practitioners, from beginners to expert. However, traditional Judo only used two colors: white and black.

When Judo reached Europe things began to change. Western Judo schools added more colors to achieve the goals listed above. Now their students knew exactly where they stood in terms of experience and skill and they had a goal they could visibly see.

Krav Maga adapted this Western Judo style and now generally uses seven belts and three main categories (identified by a patch on the uniform):

  • Practitioner Level 1: White Belt
  • Practitioner Level 2 and Level 3: Yellow Belt
  • Practitioner Level 4 and Level 5: Orange Belt
  • Practitioner Level 6 and Graduate Level 1: Green Belt
  • Graduate Level 2 and Level 3: Blue Belt
  • Graduate Level 4 and Level 5: Brown Belt
  • Expert Level 1 to Level 5: Black Belt

There is also a category above Expert which is known as the Master level. Very few have reached this level and usually the people who have dedicated their whole lives contributing or developing the future of Krav Maga.

Advancing to the Next Belt

Moving from one belt to the next requires several things:

  • Time
  • Mastery of certain techniques
  • Completion of syllabus

The amount of time it takes to move from one belt color to the next depends from school to school. In general, however, it normally takes 1-2 years to move up within the Practitioner category and no less than 2 years in the Graduate category.

In order to qualify to wear the Green and Blue belt and officially became a Graduate, a Practitioner must not only pass a test showing mastery of all the Practitioner skills and techniques but must also complete a syllabus proving he or she has learned everything within the Practitioner level.

This test could be written or be a verbal test in front of a panel of instructors.

Graduates and Instructors

Civilian instructors are often Graduates wearing brown Krav Maga belts. These are the people who have passed the instructor examination, meaning all instructors are Graduates but not all Graduates are qualified instructors.

People who have advanced to the Expert category and now wear black Krav Maga belts are so advanced that they normally teach military institutions and law enforcement academies. These are the instructors that teach the Israeli soldiers how to fight using advanced war combat skills of Krav Maga instead of the traditional techniques used for competitive sports.

Masters of Krav Maga, who also wear honorary black belts of a slightly different design, normally do not teach per se but instead run their own school. Very few have reached this level and are normally the first few followers of the art since it officially began in the 1940s.

Reaching the Black Belt

One other thing about getting the black belt and advancing to the Expert level of Krav Maga is the fact you have to be invited. Where the other belts only required students to be in a belt level for a certain amount of time and then to pass a few skills test to advance, the black belt is an invitation-only deal.

This means that the only people who have moved on from the brown belt in Krav Maga are people identified by the martial arts society to truly be considered as experts. These students are invited to become black belt holders because they have shown dedication, loyalty, time, and skill in the art.

In most Krav Maga schools, the level of black Krav Maga belts is divided into 9 dans or degrees. These 9 degrees are then divided into five levels. Moving from one level to the next also requires invitation to be valid.

3 thoughts on “Krav Maga Belts

  1. thank you – very informative – some questions

    1. What about Patch rankings? and how is this communicated when equivalent to a black belt. Is there a weakness in either belt or patch grading system?

    2. Shopping for schools is confusing- there doesn’t seem to be a uniform world-wide accreditation body for Krav Maga- many seem to say they are the best or first etc in the US to …. How to vet?

    3. Any significant injuries reported in this training? Neck choking etc…


    1. Hey Mitch,

      Great questions.

      1. There’s really no difference between patch vs. belt rankings. It all depends on each gym and the system instructors set up. There is also a lot of “opinion” when it comes to rankings so there’s no use in discussing it since it varies so much.

      2. Although there aren’t any large international accrediting bodies, there are a few smaller ones in the US such as Krav Maga Worldwide. (, United States Krav Maga Association ( and Krav Maga Association of America (

      However, I would recommend you research local Krav Maga schools near you and most importantly, the instructors that teach there and their backgrounds. In addition, you should also read reviews on them on places such as Google or Yelp.

      3. As with all martial arts, the risk of injury is always present. This is where instructor experience and knowledge helps greatly.

      Hope that helps!

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