Many times I have been asked if I can look at a school’s grading system to see what can be developed and I have come up with a system that can fit all varius martial arts styles. This system has many advantages and is 100 percent individualized.
When it comes to children, it is my opinion that we do not really need to train according to a fixed structure that we then test the children from the outside.
Testing is unnecessary for children as tests can cause both stress and anxiety for a child.
Instead, we should offer playful and varied training. At each end of the semester, diplomas and belts can be handed out to all students without tests.
The idea is that all children develop at their own pace and as long as we do not let the children get the black belt – 1 dan (which historically is the first true degree), it does not matter. All children do their best and it is important to let them be their best self at their own pace.
This means that the coaches may have different backgrounds or styles.
Adolescents and adults
For practitioners over the age of 13, it is my recommendation that you introduce a matrix system where the knowledge requirement is a number of techniques in each area, meaning that you yourself choose which techniques you want to show on a possible test. This means that the system is 100% individualized and that the practitioners will develop their own personal way of fighting.
In this way, practitioners who come from a children’s group or from another martial arts school can easily convert to the adult system.
"All martial arts are basically the same, it´s like icecream, it's just different flavours".
Normal exam times
1 Dan: 1-6 years of training
2 Dan: 1-2 years of training
3 Dan: 2-3 years of training
4 Dan: 4-5 years of training
5 Dan: 5-6 years of training
6-9 Dan: Usually honorary degrees. Some organizations have practical tests up to 7 Dan. The time between these degrees varies a great deal and usually depends on the athlete’s efforts in martial arts.
Shihan and Soke describe the position in the organization.
Shihan means chief instructor, the one who technically decides.
Soke means founder or successor.
Furthermore, there are four instructor titles; Sensei, Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi.
Instructor titles are given to instructors who have partly obtained a certain degree of knowledge (Dan), are active as an instructor and who has proven to be mature and an example.
Sensei = someone who can teach something correctly.
Normally the person holds at least 1 Dan (dan means degree), since one should at least be graded to the first degree before you can even be considered to be able to teach something correctly.
Renshi = An instructor who can lead his own group. For example, a display group, a weapon instructor, sparring or a practitioners with special needs.
Normally an instructor with at least 4 Dan.
Kyoshi = A skilled instructor who is considered a specialist. The title is used sparingly andmost often instructors from Renshi go directly to Hanshi.
Normally at least 6 Dan.
Hanshi = Grand Master
Normally at least 8 Dan.
This way you can be Shihan and have the instructor’s grade Kyoshi at the same time.
How titles are used
Japanese titles in writing should always be placed after the name, unlike Swedish titles such as is placed in front of the name, for example:
Mr. Henrik: Henrik-san
Instructor Henrik Nilsson: Henrik Nilsson Sensei
In speech, it is only customary within Martial Arts to address its instructor with the title of Sensei. You never use a title in daily talk about yourself.
Instructor = someone who can teach something correctly.
Master instructor = An experienced Instructor and a holder of at least 4 Dan.
Professor = A skilled instructor who is considered a specialist.
Normally at least 6 Dan.
Grand Master = An experienced Instructor and a holder of at least 8 Dan.
Kyosa nim = 1 – 3 Dan Black belt.
Sabum nim = 4 – 6 Dan Black belt.
Kwan jang nim = 7 – 10 Dan Black belt.