The term 'grading' in karate simply means, examination. Karate-ka (students) are examined on their abilities and skill within the Shitoryu/Shukokai grading syllabus. If all criteria is met to a proficient standard the karate-ka will attain and be awarded their grade accordingly. The grade attained is represented by the colour of the obi (belt) worn by the karate-ka. Gradings are held in February/March, June and October/November of each year.
The grading syllabus is a progressive one. The further karate-ka (students) continue in their training it stands to reason that the examinations and qualifying criteria become progressively harder and more demanding. For a full list of the requirements for each grade download the grading syllabus.
Shodan-ho means 'provisional black belt'. On attaining this grade all ages karate-ka re-grade after approximately one year and attempt their 'black belt proper'. If successful they are awarded the grade of Shodan, this is the 1st Dan black belt that every karate-ka strives to attain.
Junior Grades have a tab system and must collect three tabs on their belt (obi) before the next colour can be awarded. Normally two tabs will be awarded at a grading. The system is as follows:
One tab = Average grading
Two tabs = Very good grading
Three tabs = Excellent grading (special merit)
NB. Attaining three tabs at a grading is very rare. Karate-ka should realise the awarding of two tabs is normal.
Senior Grades do not have the tab system and are awarded the next colour belt (obi) if deemed proficient at a grading. Karate-ka grading three times a year as permitted should be attempting brown belt in approximately eighteen months to two years and provisional black belt in approximately four to five years. It should be noted that most karate-ka will take longer to achieve the coveted 'black belt'. Personal circumstances, ability and dedication of an individual will be contributing factors to the length of time it takes him/her to achieve it.