Our club's ranking system (from lowest to highest level) is as follows:

10k   kyu 1st day of class No belt
9Bk   kyu Intermediate White Blanche intermédiaire
9k   kyu Advanced White Blanche avancée
8k hachi kyu Yellow Jaune
7k nana kyu Orange Orange
6k roku kyu Green Verte
5k go kyu Blue Bleue
4k yon kyu Purple Violette
3k san kyu Brown Brune
2k ni kyu Brown Brune
1k ichi kyu Brown Brune
1D sho dan Black Noire
2D ni dan Black Noire
3D san dan Black Noire
4D yon dan Black Noire
5D go dan Black Noire
6D roku dan Black Noire
7D nana dan Black Noire
8D hachi dan Black Noire
9D   dan Black Noire
10D   dan Black Noire

A student starts at the level of 10th kyu as a beginner with no belt. Any level before black is called a "kyu", whereas any level of black belt is called a "dan". 1st level black belt is therefore called shodan ("sho" indicates 1st in Japanese). The number corresponding to the level counts down until black belt and then as the student progresses through different dan levels, the number goes up.

In total, a student must take 9 exams in order to earn their black belt. The exams start when going from 9th kyu (white belt) to 8th kyu (yellow belt) and from that point on an exam is given each time a student is ready to progress to a higher level.