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Belts and Grades

By Admin - Posted on 28 October 2008

Eight colours of belt at Kaizen RyuAs you probably already know, the various coloured belts worn in karate signify a karateka's rank. A beginner starts as a white belt, and works towards earning a black belt. At Kaizen Ryu, there are ten levels of coloured belts before black, which are called kyu ranks. At the club eight different coloured belts cover these ranks. Other schools may use more or fewer colours and belt stripes to show their grades. Kyu ranks count backwards, so you begin as a white belt at tenth kyu (or kyu-ho, the junior grade), and each new promotion brings you closer to first kyu. At 1st kyu, if you train hard enough, you may then test for black belt.

Dan ranks, then go up in levels. So, after reaching 1st kyu and being promoted to black belt, you start as a first degree black belt, a first dan, also called shodan. After that, you become a second dan, third dan, and so on,

Perhaps the most useful aspect of rank is its potential to serve as a series of goals. Earning a new colour belt means passing a grading class. At a grading class you will typically stand with other students testing for the same rank before the examining instructors, and perform the various techniques and kata required for the new rank. At the end of the class the instructors either issue you with your new ranking and belt, or offer encouragement and advice on how you need to improve.

Grading classes are held regularly four times a year.



Grading Requirements 

Karate training consists of three distinct areas of techinique. Kihon (basic technique, such as strikes, blocks, etc) Kata (formal exercises combining defensive techniques) and Kumite (sparring).

In order to obtain a degree of mastery of karate as an art the karateka must develop equally in all areas. The karateka must also be aware that development takes time. It is a process of continuous improvement (kaizen) and as such we have a grading structure so you can be evaluated as to how far you have progressed on your journey. Here are some guidelines that will help you to gauge how to progress.

* Never push for your next grade. Your instructor knows exactly when you are ready to progress to your next level.

* Ask your instructor what you need to develop. This is the correct attitude and should be encouraged.

* Although any student is allowed to practise kumite from 8th kyu (yellow belt) it is not necessary to do so until 3rd kyu (brown belt). As such, kumite will only be an evaluative part of any grading from 3rd kyu.

* Any student wishing to progress from the junior class to the senior group is able to retain their equivalent grade provided they attend a seperate grading. The equivalent grade will be up to two grades lower than their current grade, depending on the discretion of the examiner, up to a maximum of 4th kyu (red belt). For example, a 5th kyu-ho (junior blue belt) attends a further grading and achieves the grade of 7th kyu (senior orange belt) which they can wear in the senior group.

* The first assessed grade 9th kyu, indicated by a yellow strip near the end of the white belt, in either junior or senior formats, is to be attempted in the class situation. You will be assessed on your understanding of the basic stances, strikes, blocks and kicks. This grading carries a £5.00 grading fee in addition to your normal class fee.

* Your next and all subsequent gradings carry a standard £17.00 fee and are attempted at a seperate grading dojo.

* All gradings for shodan-ho/shodan and above are also free of charge.

Training Requirements

Gradings are the milestones with which we assess our progress. They are the results of our efforts in the dojo. In order to progress effectively in your training, attain a level of fitness, learn self-defence, and so on, a karateka must take responsibility to be consistent with their training.

We expect, where possible, each student to train at least once per week. This will maintain and improve your skills, fitness, and keep you mentally intune with learning.

We understand that sometimes this will be difficult and we ask that if you miss your regular class, through holidays, sickness, work, that you make it up elsewhere and/or on a different day. Your instructor will be more than happy to provide you with a timetable of any other dojo in your area.

Instructors must also see consistency before any grading. They will be looking for atleast one class per week for four weeks prior to authorising any grading for you.

* Minimum one class per week

* No gradings will be authorised unless training is consistent