What Are Grades?

What Are Grades?

Most Japanese martial arts use a system of grades signified by coloured belts. These grades are a method of testing or measuring a students progress and recording the techniques for posterity.

Some clubs do not operate a grading system, this is fine there is no prerequisite to do so, it’s a far better system than the one employed by some clubs who enforce rushed gradings on their students as a method of increasing club revenue – but then, you pay’s your money and takes your choice so it’s up to the individual what’s right for them.

It is the IAJJ’s policy not to rush students through their grades which is why some of our students can train for several years without any apparent advancement.

We do not enforce regular, 3 monthly gradings, we do not insist that every student who trains with us grades, it is an individuals choice. This reduces the pressure on students and enables them to perfect their techniques without an unnerving deadline fast approaching.

The Kyu Grades

These are the 8 novice to black belt grades used by the IAJJ . Other clubs, organisations or styles may use belts of different colours to denote their grades.

White (8th kyu)
Red (7th kyu)
Yellow (6th kyu)
Orange (5th kyu)
Green (4th kyu)
Blue (3rd kyu)
Purple (2nd kyu)
Brown (1st kyu)
Black Belt (1st Dan)
For more info on the various Dan grades click here

Our senior black belt instructors are fully qualified to assess, grade and certificate students of all our clubs. Renshi Cowan conducts all his junior and adult student gradings at Dunstable Leisure Centre while Sensei Kevin Brown uses both Stopsley and Dunstable.

Adults grade for a full belt, while juniors grade on a coloured tab system – approx 3 tabs per belt. This makes it easier for children to learn smaller chunks of their syllabus rather than the full belt system used for adults.

Dan Grades

All IAJJ black belt gradings (1st dan and beyond) are conducted by senior examiners from outside the club, usually by AMA committee members. We believe that independent assessment has greater value for the individual student.

We also adhere to the traditional formula for all subsequent dan grades after 1st dan.

After a student has earned their 1st Dan they must wait two years before their next grading. Three years must have elapsed between their 2nd and 3rd grades followed by 4 years for their 4th etc. This is the traditional and we believe, correct way.

For more info on Dan grades and ‘titles’ click here

Grading Fees

Once a student has been accessed and given a date for grading they will receive a grading application form. This must be completed, signed (adults must sign for their children) and returned with payment at least one week before the grading date.