New OSTMA Belt Format

You may or may not be aware that almost all OSTMA instructors teach on a full time basis. When we aren’t teaching we are either training or looking at ways to further develop the club. With the club being Oxfordshire’s largest at just over 2000 members, standards amongst students coupled with their upmost enjoyment and inspiration remains paramount to us.
Over recent years we have seen huge growth in martial arts schools that are more interested in profits than the commitment to teach. These clubs advertise “non contact Karate”, black belt promotion in 1-2 years, Instructors with the rank of 7th Dan and higher yet are 30 years or younger, special courses awarding black belt in under 6 months, gradings that take 15 minutes, 7 year old black belts, cash out fees in one go for the whole amount of the students training from beginner to black guaranteeing the black belt regardless of ability etc. We could go on. The fact is, true martial arts do not promote any of this. The journey from beginner through to black belt is a long one where patience, practice and understanding is vital to its success. The student is faced with physical and mental challenges at different stages through their journey and this is what makes black belt grade so special to the individual and this qualification serves so well for future employment in certain jobs as well as an aid to acceptance at universities as they recognise commitment within the student having achieved this.
Over the coming months you will notice the introduction of 5 new belts to our system. These belts are NOT belts that students grade to but are awarded on. So what are the introduction of the new belts for? Well you should all be aware by now that OSTMA is not one of the clubs I described previously. We value the standards of our students and refuse to rush students up the belts before their time. As a result however this does mean students can end up wearing the same belt for quite a period of time before the readiness of their grading which of course can create a level of despondency. We want our students to fully understand, not just the importance of spending time growing in to their belt but where they actually are within their journey on that belt and this is why we have the new, additional belts coming in.
A change of belt is a visual representation of the level of the student. Levels are classed by “KYU” grade as shown on students grading certificates. Kyu levels are considered as student/junior ranks whilst Dan levels (black belt) are considered as adult/master rank. A visual example of promotion from 6th kyu to 5th kyu in our system (grades work from 11th to 1st kyu) would be green belt to blue belt. Students do not however think about the fact they have moved up a “kyu” but that they have moved up a belt! The introduction of the new belts will be awarded between grades that start at 8th kyu (yellow belt) through to 3rd kyu (brown/white belt). These new belts will signify the understanding of the student to where they are in terms of promotion through to the next “kyu”!
Each belt already carries a “guideline” minimum time period and number of lessons attended before consideration for the next grading as well as coloured stripes on the ends of the belt to show firstly understanding of their material and then that the material is of grading standard. The new belt will be awarded in class to the student who has reached somewhere around half the minimum lessons and time required as well as having stripe tests that demonstrate understanding of each section. The student then earns these stripes again on their new belt once each relevant section is of grading standard. Invitation to grade up the “kyu” is on completion of the full set of stripes.
The new belt, which is the same colour they currently are but with a black stripe running through the middle is not a move up the “kyu”. It is for the student to understand where they are within their current kyu and how close they are to full grading. Exciting times ahead for students who will now receive new additional belts!
Many thanks
Sensei Paul

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.