For many students, the ultimate goal is the successful acquisition of their Shodan Black Belt - though it should be remembered that this fantastic milestone is only the very start of your karate journey. At Hidden Dragon Karate-Do, we pride ourselves on the high standard of our Black Belt karate-ka. A HDKD Black Belt must exhibit examplary standards not only in their practical Goju Ryu technique, but also with regards to etiquette, attitude and understanding of the martial art. The transition from the Kyu grades to your First Dan is the most important progression thus far in your karate life and along with it comes increased responsibility to your own training, the club and your fellow students. A Black Belt karate-ka is committed to their training and the club's ethos. They are seen as role models to the lower grade students and are expected to remain humble in disposition.
Students making the huge step from 1st Kyu to Shodan Black Belt are, therefore, assessed across the whole range of qualities: practical goju Ryu technique & skill; understanding of Goju Ryu karate skills; attitude; etiquette; Japanese terminology; commitment to their own training. Assessment toward your Shodan grading begins by the club seniors the moment you achieve your 1st Kyu. Progression to Shodan is a minimum of 12 months from the 1st Kyu grading. Students are expected to exhibit commitment to their training for Black Belt and must therefore complete a minimum of 100 training sessions between completing their 1st Kyu belt and attending the Black Belt practical grading assessment. Prior to being invited for the grading assessment, all candidates must complete and pass the written component of the assessment. This consists of multiple choice questions and free writing exercises designed to test the student's attitude, knowledge of etiquette and Japanese terminology and their suitability for the honour of wearing a Black Belt. A score no less than 90% must be achieved on the written paper before the student is asked to attend the five hour long practical grading assessment, the final hurdle in their transition to Shodan Black Belt.
Achieving your Black Belt is not easy and neither should it be. Those who successfully undergo this very rigorous grading criteria will achieve their Black Belt knowing that they have been tested to the maximum and will harbour an amazing sense of pride in their own achievement and respect for the grade.