So what’s with all the different coloured belts? This concept was introduced to karate around 1935. The idea was taken from judo and originates back to 1883. Before then, karateka either had a black or white belt.
The coloured belt system is a good indicator of progression. In our Wado Ryu style, students start with a white belt then progress to red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown one stripe, brown two stripes, brown three stripes then finally black. We have a syllabus that students learn for each belt. You can find the syllabus inside the karate licence.
To achieve the next belt up, students attend a grading where they are tested on their knowledge of the syllabus. The syllabus for each belt can include basic, pair, knife defence and combination techniques as well as kata, sparring and impact training.
Gradings are held six times a year, usually on a Sunday, just before school holidays. Our regular venue is Lopping Hall but this occasionally changes. In the weeks before a grading, master classes are held for each colour belt. These master classes are one hour long intensive sessions which have proven to be highly effective in preparing students for a grading. Everyone is notified by email of master class dates and times well in advance.
For those keen to grade, home practice is important. We have video tutorials on our website and we can provide YouTube links for katas.
Before each grading, students are assessed for their suitability to grade. If a student isn’t ready, then they are not allowed to take the grading. Sensei: “I’ve been on grading panels before where students have failed a grading and it’s dreadful to witness their disappointment. It destroys a student’s confidence and in fighting, confidence is a key element to winning.” With six gradings a year at our club, the next grading is never too far away.
New belts are given out on the day and certificates about a week later. Grading fees start from £20 and increase as students progress through the belts.