The history of the Yellow Belt begins in 1966 when the Tracy brothers introduced the new belt to Kenpo as hachikyu (8th kyu). The Yellow Belt rank was quickly adopted by Ed Parker, and later by Professor William K. S. Chow.
The Orange Belt was introduced to the martial arts in 1962, when the Tracy brothers created (7th kyu) in Kenpo. Prior to that time, the first earned rank in Kenpo Karate was gokyu (5th kyu).
The Tracy brothers introduced Blue Belt to the martial arts in 1962, along with the Orange, Purple, and Green Belt, and made Gokyu the third earned rank in kenpo karate. It became the 4th earned rank in Kenpo Karate when Yellow Belt was introduced in 1966.
Sankyu is the lowest brown belt rank in Kenpo Karate, karate and all martial arts that use the Japanese kyu/dan ranking. It is the first awarded brown belt and is the next rank above Green Belt.
Ikkyu is the highest rank below black belt in Kenpo Karate, karate and all martial arts that use the Japanese kyu/dan ranking. Kyu ranking, like a handicap, uses the highest number to indicate a lack of proficiency.
Shodan is the first black belt rank in Judo, Karate and Jiu-jitsu. It means, literally, the “lowest rank”. Karate divides ranks between Kyu for white and brown belt, and Dan for black belts. Traditionally a black belt was a yudansha, meaning one who holds a dan rank.
Promotion within the white and brown belts were loosely structured, with no requirements that a student make progressive steps. One could go directly from a white belt to 1st black belt — assuming one had the skill.