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These are the minimum test requirements for (kyu ranks) white-brown belt:  Vocabulary for each rank is listed here 

Test Etiquette / Information:

Students are “eligible” not required to test every 4-months. You will be sent a link (via email) ahead of time to pay for the exam. You current membership dues must be up to date and your account in good standing to test. If you pay for your test and miss it, you can take it the following month at no extra charge. Karate is a journey, so there is no set timeline. Below is an estimated outline of an average progression. However, average students don’t earn black belts…

Etiquette:  Full gi, never any t-shirts for tests: clean/ironed. Water/Gatorade is always is permitted (just raise hand). You must pre-pay before the test takes place. If you miss your scheduled test, you can schedule a private test if an examiner is available (with an additional fee based on private lesson rate) or test the following month at no extra charge with the group. 

We use the Japanese Kyu/Dan ranking system.  Kyu are “levels” for under belts (white-brown) and Dan are degrees of black belt.

Kyu ranks move downward ⇩ meaning the lower # is best, while Dan ranks move upward ⇧ while high # is best.  Example 1-Kyu brown belt (5 tips) is ready for pre-black belt test. *remember a black belt is not an expert.  Shodan means “beginning” degree.  It is a major milestone like graduating high school, but then you must start college and move up the Dan ladder. 

In our dojo kids <13 are “Jr. Black Belts” noted by Black Belts with white embroidered belts.   They move to full Shodan with gold embroidered Black Belts status at age 14.   An exam at our dojo is influenced by a number of factors that are not cut/dry including:    

  1. Minimum requirements (kihon/kata)
  2. Technique (Martial Arts)
  3. Character Development (Martial Way)
  4. Vocab/History
  5. Class Attendance
  6. Intensity / Effort
  7. Abilities/Disabilities
  8. Maturity
  9. Private Lessons
  10. Kumite (sparring) in-class evaluation *required at intermediate level to advance

*Minimum requirements: Learning higher kata is admirable, but not at the expense of your requirements.  Knowing a more advanced kata does not make you eligible for the belt it coincides with, they are considered bonus. We have time requirements between levels, not just memorization. Kata is only “one” of the factors.

Example: A blue belt may know heian #4. This does not mean they automatically earn a green belt. This is bonus and there is more emphasis on heian #3 (sandan) at this level.

You must meet maintain your basics (foundation), and still focus on the “short list” of kihon and kata specific to your rank. That list often determines if a retest is needed. Previous martial arts experience, Private lessons, kata class, and Saturday class can accelerate advancement as can high level proficiency in kumite (Shihan’s discretion).  

The journey from White→Yellow→Orange→ Blue (novice ranks) can be very different for an adult/teenager compared to a Ninja.  Rapid advancement, skipping stripes can occur; however it’s not the norm.  While you may know all the “technical” material for a certain level, remember the process is a marathon not a sprint. 

Every test level advancement is considered a ½ point (stripe) as normal progression.  If you jump from white to yellow, that is a full 1-point (skipping the yellow stripe in the process).  Jumping a full point is the maximum Shihan allows on any single test, no matter how much material you know. *exception, students who join with previous martial arts training may be place in an accelerated novice/intermediate rank.

*Also we don’t straddle stripes (if you have a yellow stripe, you won’t pass to an orange stripe) earning the “solid” belt is the goal.  The development of our system takes adequate time for maturity and character development (time served).  Never compare your progress with your line mate. Your journey is “individual” you versus yourself.  Students with limitations or who may suffer from a disability either (physical or mental), chronic injuries or disease also play a part in the subjective outcome of a test.  This is where heart, attitude and determination come into play.  Courage/Determination (or as Sensei likes to   call it “will over skill”) is a vital characteristic to consider. This can outshine the technical aspect of a test in some cases.  Personal development is just that, personal.

Intro-Ninjas: We do not work on kata in the intro class. This is typical training in our novice class after you earn a stripe for basics. If you wish to attempt to earn a yellow belt as an “intro student” “optional” private lessons is the only way to do so. An intro Ninja can earn a yellow belt if they learn the entire Heian #1 (first kata).  This kata isn’t taught during intro class and isn’t required for the white belt with yellow stripe, which most ninjas earn first.   

Line up by Rank:  In our Ninja classes, the higher belts line up in the front line in order by colors ascendingly.  There is no specific assigned order within a color for Ninjas.  Once a student moves into the Intermediate or adult class, they must line up individually by “rank” based on the performance of their test.  Those in a group who score “highest” are called out “last” when given results (or the leader of that group).  This position in line can flip flop based on each test.

*something to consider:  Students who enjoy tournaments please factor that your belt or kata can determine your division: Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced.   I always encourage students to move “up” to challenge themselves, but make sure you are ready.  Just because you can perform kata #4, you must ask yourself is it at an intermediate or advanced level? If you wish to perform kata #4, you must move from novice division to intermediate or advanced at tournaments.  Sometimes staying the course is better than jumping ahead so you can gain experience. This is a good conversation to have with Sensei.

Intermediate (Blue ⇆ green) and advanced (purple ⇆ brown) incorporate 2 tips on the obi.  Example: If you are a solid green belt and score a “full point,” you could in theory earn 2 tips at once (however jumps at blue, green, purple become increasingly rare). *exception: students with previous experience, this is open to Shihan discretion. Brown belts do not skip tips.  Each tip is critical in the learning process

*If a student shows dynamic skill or maturity an expedited test can occur (less than the standard 4-month period).  These are rare and nominated by a high ranking black belt.  It is never polite to ask, this will happen organically if necessary.

*Perspective: Sensei Bill Jr., Gabby, Xander, Cameron are just a few of the students who have NEVER skipped any stripes or belts.  They have earned each level in in succession. So always expect to just take one step at a time  

Pass/Fail/Retest:  Nearly every test, a few students don’t pass or need a retest.  This is normal and part of the learning curve.  It is also reminder that you need to “earn” each step and can be a wakeup call.  We want each student to exceed their own “potential,” so every student is evaluated differently.    

Pass: Self-explanatory. Results typically given 1-week from the test at the end of class

Fail: Did not meet minimum requirements, must wait for an upcoming test. (Discussion with sensei to determine the amount of time needed to prepare)

Retest: In some cases the majority of the test is passed, but a single area needs improvement.  An immediate retest can occur within 2 weeks, after consultation with the examiner. Sometimes a single private lesson on the trouble area can do the trick.  There is no fee associated with this, and rank is promoted immediately after the retest session.