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The Grading System

Grading's, or examinations, are held regularly and students are advised when they should enter for the test. Juniors are tested within their own club but seniors will be asked to attend a specific grading event. All dates for grading's are promoted well in advance.

How regularly you grade will obviously depend on how much you train. As a rule of thumb someone who trains twice a week could expect to grade about every 4 months up to green belt. At green belt and above the time periods increase between grades as the difficulty level increases.

The Belt System

The use of a coloured belt system to denote rank or experience in martial arts is a relatively new phenomenon first used in judo in about 1880. Here only white and black were used. Later in the 1900 an expanded colour system was introduced. Other martial arts soon adopted the approach which is now almost universal across Arts of a Far Eastern origin.

It is important to know that belt colours are not equivalent between different organisations and styles. They are only intended to be compared within an organisation. This is because the time required and level of knowledge to reach each belt varies from group to group and in fact it would be almost impossible to bring every one up to a universal standard.

Luckily this is not necessary; the purpose of the belt system is to provide the student with a measure of their own progress and to indicate to their instructors where they sit in the training program, thus allowing them to be instructed at the correct level for their experience.

The Coveted Black Belt - A black belt usually indicates that a practitioner is competent in a styles principles and techniques. It does not mean they are a Master because there are many levels of black belt. These are referred to as Dan grades e.g. you might be a black belt 1st Dan.  Often this is referred to as Shodan which literally means 1st step which indicates that the wearer is on the first rung towards advanced learning.

Never the less the attainment of black belt 1st dan or Shodan still represents a significant achievement in technical skill. However as all 1st dan practitioners soon learn it also represents the initial step on a path to even higher awareness and greater achievement, one which often can take a lifetime to pursue.

How We Grade