Shotokan Karate Tora Dojo
Chuck Billo — Head Instructor
Although Funakoshi Sensei had a precept called “Hitotsu Kata, Sannen” : One Kata, three years, today, we practice a different Kata for each Kyu (color belt). Papers detailing exam requirements and names of techniques in Japanese are given to each student. A ‘term’ is the time between exams: four months. Karate training, however, should be seen as a lifelong pursuit, much as brushing your teeth is a lifelong pursuit.
KYU BELT APPROXIMATE TIME
9th White 1 term, 2 to 3 times a week, 24-30 hrs tot.
8th Yellow 1 term, 2 to 3 times a week, 28-38 hrs tot.
7th Orange 1 term, 3 times a week, > 36 hrs tot.
6th Green 1-2 terms, 3 times a week, >40 hrs tot.
5th Blue 2 terms, 3 times a week, >40 hrs tot.
4th Purple 2-3 terms, 3-4 times a week, >60 hrs tot.
3rd Brown 1 2-3 terms, 3-5 times a week. >60 hrs tot.
2nd Brown 2 1-2 terms, 3-5 times a week. >40 hrs tot.
1st Brown 3 1-3 terms, 3-6 times a week. >60 hrs tot.
Brown Belt rank is much more variable with its requirements, due to variation in ability and dedication. It is important during Brown Belt stages not to become bored or frustrated, and skip classes.
1st Kyu students will take a Shodan exam, usually with Mori Masataka Sensei (9th Dan) from New York. He gives Dan exams a few times a year here in Montreal.
Dan ranks take years of regular training in accord with their prefix of the next rank before an exam can be attempted.
Sho = 1 Go = 5
Ni = 2 Rokku = 6
San = 3 Nana = 7 There are no other Dan colors in JKA.
Yon = 4 Hachi = 8 Black only, no bars.
All exams will have at least three basic parts: demonstration of Basics, Sparring with a partner, and Kata. For color belt ranks, exams are held at Tora Dojo, and Chuck Sensei will be the final judge of the result. You must strive to demonstrate the quality of a higher rank.
Tora Dojo exams also require demonstrations of Kata applications, Japanese terms, and throwing/falling ability. You must be adaptable and calm in the face of surprises.
Sometimes, exams at Tora Dojo end in failure. It takes a few large errors for that result. Some medium errors that could be fixed in a few more hours of training, or a mistake made during a Kata due to nervousness usually results in a ‘pending’ decision—the student will pass pending corrections made and demonstrated later at a review time. If the required corrections are not done, then the student will be assigned more pending hours, most of which will be devoted solely to correcting those errors.
A ‘pass with flying colors’ grade is what every student should aim for.