What is a grading system?
Most martial arts have some form of grading system to demarcate the capacity of practioners and in Karate the system follows the Kyu/Dan system pioneered in Judo whereby Kyu grades wear coloured belts and dan grades wear black belts. Different styles of Karate have different numbers of Kyu and Dan grades, but in the Karate do Shotokai organisation the grades awarded are as follows:
6th Kyu - red belt
5th Kyu - yellow belt
4th Kyu - orange belt
3rd Kyu - green belt
2nd Kyu - blue belt
1st Kyu - brown belt
1st - 5th Dan - black belt
How often do you hold gradings?
Gradings are generally held three times a year within the club, normally in June, September and February. Club members are generally invited to grade at the discretion of the instructor, though there is no compulsion to grade.
What happens in a grading?
Grading sessions generally resemble normal training sessions, with emphasis on both Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring), though the amount of instruction during a grading session is minimal.
How long will it take me to get to black belt?
A very good question. Again this varies between organisations and styles, though the Karate do Shotokai organisation is relatively conservative. Obtaining a black belt in the KDS is very difficult and grades at this level are only awarded by the national technical executive committee, headed by Harada Sensei. With regular training and effort, it is not unreasonable to expect to attain 1st dan (shodan) within 5-8 years.