Gradings for all students are held on a regular basis and play a large part in measuring the progress of a Karate student, both for themselves and for their instructors.
Kyu gradings are generally held every four months as a separate course but can also be conducted at the Brighton Dojo. To be eligible the student must train regularly throughout this period.
Dan gradings are held on similar timescales across the country.
Each grading is made up of three elements:
Kihon (Basic Techniques) – This is where the examiner will ask the student to perform a series of fundamental techniques so that he can see if they are done correctly.
Kata (Pre-arranged Movements) – A kata is a set of pre-arranged movements which demonstrates blocking and striking against an imaginary opponent. There are 26 kata in the Shotokan system. Students are expected to learn a new kata for each grading up to 1st Kyu level. Beginner kata is very simple and consists mainly of just one type of block and punch. Advanced kata is far more complicated and is made up of open handed strikes, different kicks and even jumping techniques.
Kumite (Sparring) – At beginner level this is a set of pre-arranged punches and blocks. For senior grades it involves free sparring.
Like any progressive exam system, the gradings become harder the further the student progresses through the belts. The student must demonstrate to the examiner that they have trained hard and reached the correct standard between each belt before they will be awarded the next grade.
The kihon, kata and kumite set out in the A.S.K syllabus are in keeping with the requirements and standards set by the chief instructor Sensei Hazard 7th Dan.
If your goal is simply to have fun, get fit and meet new people, then progress through through the belts will not be your primary motivation. Please note that students are always encouraged but never forced into taking a grading.
Try to remember that Karate is for life. It is not a race and your personal progress should never be considered as such. Karate is a journey in the pursuit of perfection of both technique and character.
Kyu grades: The Kyu ranks start at 10th Kyu (White belt) and proceed up to 1st Kyu, the rank just before 1st Dan black belt. The belt system is explained in detail later on in this section.
Dan grades: These ranks are granted to individuals who have achieved a recognised level of competence through years of training in Karate-Do. The Dan ranks start at 1st Dan (black belt).