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Ambler GKK Requirements for Promotion


A new student is considered to be at "10th kyu" white belt, the most basic level. As the student progresses, they test for the next higher level (lower number). Kyu levels are those ranks before black belt, and begin with 10th (ju kyu) and end at 1st (ik kyu brown belt with three stripes). In our dojo, white belt is worn from 10th through 7th kyu green belt from 6th to 4th kyu; and brown belt from 3rd to 1st kyu. Each kyu rank is signified by a taped stripe in the color of the next belt. After Ik kyu are the dan (black belt) levels. The first is shodan or 1st degree black belt, and each higher number reflects a higher dan rank.

Testing Philosophy of Sensei Kane and the Ambler GKK Dojo

Testing is open to anyone who believes they have achieved the requirements of a particular level or just for the practice, but testing does not guarantee promotion. We will keep the open invitation policy until it begins to make testing groups too large or the practice gets abused.

The second way a person gets to test is to be invited by a black belt. This is usually done for lower belts who don't know where their abilities lie or others that may lack the confidence to initiate testing. For those people, promotion is usually an automatic unless the person really falls apart. For all practical purposes, the testing has already been completed, just the ceremony remains.

When I test people, I look at several things. Obviously, technical aspects are important: technique, focus, speed, power, fluidity, application, timing, and coordination. I also look at less tangible aspects: attitude, attendance, application of abilities, attention to detail, leadership, eagerness to pass on the tradition, willingness to make adjustments (coach-ability).

Superiority in anyone of these areas won't cause a person to get promoted any more then a deficiency in another will cause a person to not be promoted; it's the total package.

One final point, these are only guidelines and each person's performance is considered independently. Students pay for karate instruction, not to be promoted. I will only promote a person who (in my opinion) upholds the responsibilities of that new higher level. Some sensei won't promote someone to blackbelt unless they intend to teach; it's their dojo, their prerogative. While I respect and count highly on the counsel of the contributing blackbelts, promotions are given by the GKK through me at Ambler dojo. A promotion is an endorsement, and I will only give the endorsement of the GKK to an individual who has demonstrated the good skills, knowledge, and character required for a given rank. My position is not one of ego, but rather responsibility....

As for previous training, I don't expect a complete emptying of one cup before refilling it with the new way, but I like to see the incorporation of our techniques into their personal style. Nevertheless, we require blackbelts to teach the techniques and kata as we do them. While Sandan tends to reflect the true competency of a school, Shodan is the point that most see as the mark on the wall....

Guidelines for promotion, kyu levels

In light of Sensei Kane's words, the following are guidelines for what we expect a student to know at each level. The guidelines are cumulative, meaning that AT ANY LEVEL A STUDENT SHOULD BE COMPETENT AT ALL THE EARLIER LEVELS.

There are three formal elements considered for each promotion:

  1. Kata: traditional movement form designed to teach specific fighting techniques.
  2. One-steps (yakusoko kumite): prearranged sparring using partner drills to teach effective responses to attacks.
  3. Basics (kihon): kicks, blocks, strikes, and stances.

10th kyu (Ju kyu) - White belt, no stripes

Beginning student.

9th kyu (Ku kyu) - White belt, one green stripe

Kata: taikyoko jodan
One Step: first two jodan level

8th kyu (Hachi kyu) - White belt, two green stripes

Kata: taikyoko chudan
One Step: jodan level 3 & 4
Basics, basics with movement

7th kyu (Shi Chi kyu) - White belt, three green stripes

Kata: taikyoko gedan, basic level of sanchin
One Step: jodan level 5-7
Basics , Basics with movement

6th kyu (Rok kyu) - Green belt, one brown stripe

Kata: geki sai ichi, kihon
One Step: chudan level 1 &2
At the green belt level, we expect increased knowledge of many techniques from basics, body shifting, and beginning kata, to prearranged sparring and some actual freestyle sparring. And we expect a beginning knowledge of the history and values of karate, and conversation with basic Japanese terms.

5th kyu (Go kyu) - Green belt, two brown stripes

Kata: geki sai ni, geki sai san
One Step: chudan level 3,4

4th kyu (Yon kyu) - Green belt, three brown stripes

Kata: sanchin with hard and soft, sai fa
One Step: chudan level 5,6

3trd kyu (San kyu) - Brown belt, one black stripe

kata: basic seiunchin, sanchin with hard body and power
At the brown belt level, we expect students:
  1. to be able to execute basic techniques with intensity and focus,
  2. to have some understanding of the application of the techniques and kata,
  3. to exercise control,
  4. to be helpful to less advanced students, and
  5. to have basic understanding of the history of karate, goju ryu, and the GKK.

2trd kyu (Ni kyu) - Brown belt, two black stripes

kata: improved seiunchin (increased speed/fluidity/power, and correct alignment on stances), basic tensho

1st kyu (Ik kyu) - Brown belt, three black stripes

kata: seiunchin, tensho, basic uke no

Guidelines for promotion, dan levels

The shodan has mastered the basics. He/she has achieved a certain level of competence in technique, but also

  1. has knowledge/understanding of history and the philosophy behind martial arts, Goju Ryu, GKK.
  2. exemplifies the principles and ideals of GKK and of the founders of Goju ryu.
  3. is able to express herself orally in writing on these subjects.
  4. represents the dojo well, to students and nonstudents.
  5. Kata guidelines for dan level are as follows:


Uke no


Shisochin, Sanseiru


Seipai, Seisan





Copyright 2006 Amber Area YMCA Goju-Ryu Karate