All SSK karateka will be permitted to participate in a grading providing that they have fulfilled all technical requirements, hold a current SSK licence or record book and finally have approval from the club's senior instructor.

The grading will be held at the club's current dojo. Students training for their grading must be up to speed with the requirements and have been with the SSK for a minimum of 6 months.

When participating in a grading, the student should be presentable and be wearing a clean ironed white karate Gi, no other coloured Gi Is allowed. The belt should be tied correctly. Hands and feet should be clean, and all finger and toe nails must be cut. All jewellery must be removed to prevent injury to fellow students and themselves.

The student’s licence or record book must be handed in to the senior instructor no later than two weeks before the grading date to allow for the correct paperwork and grades to be filled out for the day of the grading. Failure to do this may result in exclusion from participating in the grading and or a student may receive the wrong grade, due to inaccurate information.

All students are required to remain until the end of the grading otherwise their grade will be forfeited, and they will remain on their current grade.

Once the grading has finished, you will then be handed back your licence or record book with your new grade inside, along with signed recognition by the club’s senior instructor and signed certifictae. 

SSK will hold 2 gradings a year, June and November. This is done to allows 5 – 6 months training between each grading so that standards can be maintained, achieved and improved upon. Grading criteria can change at any time, but ample notification will be given. SSK can also grade between the main grading dates that are set and this would be done as an ongoing assessment. Although this is rare and will only be perfomed on special occasions, your new grade may be announced during normal training sessions or on the grading day. 

You will be required to renew your licence yearly. Failure to renew your licence will mean that your will have to wait a whole year until the next renewal before participating in another grading.

The annual renewal date for all licences will be June, if you decide to take the grading later in the year (potentially in November) then only half a years licence fee will be due prior to that grading and then everyone will continue to renew their licences in full in June each year, regardless of whether you are taking the grading or not. The grading cost will always remain the same amount throughout the year. 

Grading Costs

Licence Costs

Therefore, the total cost for a license and grading is £25 for adults and £15 for children. A 10% discount will be given for families with 3 or more members participating.

Kyu Grade Age Restrictions

There are no age restrictions for kyu graders, although the minimum age the club allows students to begin their karate training for insurance reasons is from 4 years old.

It must be emphasized that Stafford Shotokan Karate has high standards of karate and the standard must be maintained throughout the training months leading up to the day of the grading to progress to their next grade.

Temporary Kyu Grades

A student may receive a temporary grade, meaning that they are not quite at the full standard required for the grade they were aiming for. However, the same colour belt as a full grade is to be worn and the student will train on the same syllabus as if they were the full grade.

Temporary grades are signified by showing a single red stripe on one end of the belt. And when in a line up a temporary grade will be to the right of a full grade.

Dan Grading Rules

To take your 1st Dan grading with SSK, a full 1st Kyu must be obtained before starting the criteria for 1st Dan.

The minimum required training time from 1st Kyu to 1st Dan is a period of 12 months.

Dan Grade Age Restrictions

There are no age restrictions for taking 1st or 2nd Dan. The minimum age for taking 3rd Dan is 21 yrs. The age restriction is in place to allow the body to fully develop to be able to perform more of the technical elements required.

Dan Grading Frequency

The minimum time periods between each Dan gradings are as follows:

7th Dan and above will be awarded at the discretion of the Chief Instructor. Students who fail 1st or 2nd Dan gradings must wait a minimum of six months before re-taking the examination unless a different length of time is specified by the examiner.

Demonstrating Bunkai

To demonstrate bunkai to the examiner for your grading you can choose 1 of two ways to do this.

  1. Partner Training - You will be working with a partner for your required bunkai explanation, teaching them what needs to be demonstrated to work with you.
  2. Individual Movement - You will demonstrate each section of the kata on its own first before repeating that section with a partner to demonstrate what that specific movement is about.

Transfer of Grades to SSK from another Shotokan Association


Kyu Grades

Karateka who have transferred from another club or association may continue to wear their belt or current grade but must consolidate their grade within the year, to be in line with the SSK standard. You may line up with the same grades as yourself, however you will need to stand at the bottom end of the grades, as you have not been graded with SSK. Once again, you may be awarded a grade above, below or maintain the standard required when you do take your grading. 

Dan Grades

1st and 2nd Dan grade students transferring to SSK must retake their Dan grades within one year of joining.

Students of 3rd Dan must present their current licence, DBS certificates and apply in writing to SSK with their intentions of joining, they will also be required to undertake a minimum of three months training under the observation of the chief instructor before being integrated into the SSK as an instructor.

Protective Equipment

Gumshields and groin guards are not compulsory however, if you feel that you require one of these products then the SSK will not mind.

Chest plates for ladies are essential and need to be inserted before training.

Gloves and head guards are NOT permitted at the SSK as Karate is about focus and accuracy. However, for competitions gloves are compulsory and must be WKF approved.