the grading…

Karate Grading

Karate Grading

the current grading system is geared toward developing and producing students that conform to the lowest common denominator.

This is as I see it, its up to the instructor to say ok your ready now go for it… All well and good however this puts the expectation on the student that they are ready and how can they fail if the instructor has said they know it all and are ready to go… so there is to me an expectation that when they are there (at the grading) they will pass, because if they are fail, and some should be asked to re-grade, then it looks bad on them the instructor and the system, less likely to happen, and the bigger the event the less (very less likely) that a student will fail and more likely that the average will be lower than what you would expect.

 so how can this be improved?

by changing the expectation at a grading day… not so much the rest.

i see that when a student gets to a grading day they feel they have passed already. this needs to change

they need to feel that the expectation is that if they excel and only if they perform to the highest standard will they pass and move to the next level.

some points to share: the students

  • need to feel that if their performance is anything but excellent they will need to grade again.
  • have a clear mark of excellence, a visual and written understanding of the requirement, that if they are less than that they will not move forward.
  • a clear understanding that if they grade it’s not an automatic passage to the next rank.

see a pattern

the ultimate ideas is to produce student that exceeds our expectations not make the average. These things are the unwritten expectations, and what we hope to instil in the student, however its not being executed this way. The reality is, the gradings are basically a performance of the average, not a drive to excellence that we really want.

What could a grading day look like?

for example.. you could have a grade day for students every 3 / 4 months and its up to them (the student) to

  • show you they are ready
  • get the necessary techniques done learned and understood before then
  • be there on the day otherwise they miss out.

here’s a rough idea

  • have an notification from the instructor that they can attempt a grading at the next opportunity
  • set the grading days at and let the students that they can grade only on these days (its a limited field so make them want to achieve it)
  • have an open curriculum (by that I mean if a yellow belt is keen and learns the requirements then why not let that person attempt purple)
  • change the grading day to a format that builds on each level

so the day would start everyone together and after every requirement is met for white to brown then the grading is done.

the format would be separated in to 5 components

  1. strength/flexibility (not specifically push ups and sit-up as they are not a good indicator)
  2. fundamentals (hands, leg, stances etc)
  3. predefined sequences (kata, routines)
  4. application (bunkai, yuksu)
  5. practice (sparing, scenarios)

in between each component a break would occur, for drinks toilet break, recover

the student cannot move to the next component unless they have passed the previous comment for their level.


if the strength requirement for a yellow is 3×1 minute plank 2×25 full movement wide arm pushups 3×20 knee to floor lunges and 3 stretching elements from the list of acceptable exercises in 10 minutes

then they cannot move to the fundamentals component

the grader would need to watch each element and make a comment on the movement

e.g. for the plank

elbows in line with shoulder

feet together

core engaged

back straight

time achieved

if each is not ticked for each set, the the requirements are not met and they need return for the next grading in 3 or 4 months


maybe but this would set the expectation that its not a given that you would pass a grading and you need to know and do to make the grade.