In most martial arts, a student’s progress and experience level is indicated by the wearing of a coloured belt. These belts are attained by a periodic assessment which is known as a Grading Examination.
The grading examination is a very important part of a student’s progress in the martial arts, especially so for the junior and lower ranked grades where the structure of the training syllabus is based on working towards the examination.
The actual examination comprises several parts,
- Attendance / Effort in Class
The first part of the assessment is based on the students regular attendance, attitude and effort in class.
It is assumed that a student has a minimum 75% attendance (the vast majority have 90%+), and shows a consistently good effort and attitude in class. Providing they do, then they will normally be promoted at the end of the quarter to recognise their continuing progress over time.
If they have poor attendance or don’t make a consistent effort in class, this will be a factor in their final assessment, which is where we consider if they qualify for a highlighted result.
- Pre-grading assessments
During the week leading up to the final examination, our classes form part of the assessment. In class we will review some of the main syllabus requirements and make some detailed notes.
These sessions should be taken seriously as they are an important part of the grading process and will have a bearing on the final result.
- Final Examination
This is the traditional formal grading session. Scheduled on the Sunday before graduation, where the students are tested formally in front our Master Instructor and black belt coaching team.
At this session we will be looking to see how the students ‘rise to the occasion’ of a more formal exam, considering their attitude and effort to be a significant factor in their promotion, and therefore this is where the students final result is decided with the opportunity to earn the higher ‘+’ and ‘A’ grades.
There’s a more comprehensive overview of grading expectations on this page:
We hold grading examinations on a regular schedule, and this pattern is fixed every year.
The gradings dates are based on holding the graduation event on the the last Thursday of each quarter in March, June and September, and the last Thursday before Christmas in December (unless that’s xmas eve, in which case it will be a week earlier)
The grading exam is held on the Sunday prior to the graduation which usually puts it around the 20th-25th of the month, with the pre-grading sessions held in normal class time during the preceding week.
The only exception to this would be if the normal grading date falls on a bank holiday weekend in which was the grading will be held on the previous or following weekend. This would of course be notified at the beginning of the year.
We stick to this pattern every year and therefore you can easily work out the grading dates for any year in advance.
Please see the table to the left of this page for grading dates for the next 12 months
For each quarterly examination, students must submit an application form in class, no later than the final lesson before the pre-grading week (i.e. not less than 10 days before the grading date).
Please note that any late applications will be strictly at the discretion of the chief instructor or programme director and will be subject to an additional £10 administration fee to cover the fact the grading paperwork is prepared the day after the deadline and if applications are received late we have to do a lot of extra work.
Success in a grading examination will depend on several key areas, including:-
- Regular attendance in class (at least 75% of available lessons).
- A positive, pro-active attitude towards your training.
- Technical Competence
- Theory Knowledge
- Grading Essay (Red belt and higher)
Please note: Candidates for Black Belt ranks have a much more comprehensive set of requirements which are detailed in the Ilyokwan Black Belt Handbook. You can request a copy of this from your instructor. Black Belt Testing is only conducted at the spring and autumn grading examinations, details here
Graduation is our quarterly presentation evening where the whole school comes together to celebrate their progress and present the students with their new belts, certificate and star badges they’ve earned this quarter.
This is an important event, really the high point of our quarterly calendar and it’s really important that everyone makes the effort to attend. Even if you’ve not take a grading yourself, it is the one occasion the whole school comes together, and an opportunity for us all to celebrate our success.
The graduation events are normally held at the Chantry Centre (formerly Lister Hall) in Dursley on the last Thursday of each quarter, i.e. March, June, Sept and December.
The December graduation is usually held on the last Thursday before Christmas, unless that is xmas eve, in which case it will be one week earlier.
All students should attend in uniform.
Feel free to invite your friends and family, and don’t forget to bring your cameras*!
* Graduation is considered a public event, and therefore photography is allowed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I expected to take every grading?
If you’re a coloured-belt grade, then generally speaking, yes, you are expected to take four grading exams per year.
With the rotating curriculum approach to training the curriculum broken down into small quarterly modules the focus on each exam is primarily that which was covered in the last three months only and therefore it is expected that all eligible students will take each grading examination.
The biggest issue really is one of the students confidence and motivation, especially for juniors as it can be quite disheartening for them to miss out when everyone else in their class is receiving their new belts etc.
Beginner members / inclusive memberships:
For students with an inclusive membership, for example BBTC1 to blue belt, or BBTC2 to Black Belt Candidate it is a requirement of your membership that you take all quarterly grading examinations.
If you don’t submit for a grading your membership reverts to a fixed period of 18/24 months in accordance with the expiry date on your membership agreement. This means you may not reach the target grade before the end of your membership. If this is the case, any subsequent membership will be a fixed term rather than inclusive to a grade.
If you are unable to make a scheduled grading you may apply for a private grading* to keep yourself on track.
Can I attend even if I am not grading myself?
I had a question about students who for one reason or another weren’t grading on this occasion and whether they could attend the grading. The answer is absolutely yes, even if you’re not grading (i.e. BB candidates etc) then you’re welcome to attend and can join in on the floor too, in fact it’s actively encouraged that all students should attend to support those grading.
Can we watch a grading?
Absolutely! You are welcome to watch all grading examinations other than the private testing reserved for Black Belt candidates. Please remember though if you are observing a grading you must not interrupt or disturb the candidates at any time. Any prompting or coaching from parents may result in the exclusion of their child from the exam.
What if I missed the grading due to Illness/Injury?
In exceptional circumstances, which could not have been known in advance, such as illness or injury on the day of the grading examination, we may as a discretionary measure consider promoting a student based on their attendance, attitude and standards in class, and the pre-grading assessments undertaken in class during the grading week.
To qualify a student must:
- Have submitted a grading application as normal
- Meet the minimum attendance requirements for the grade (75%/18 classes)
- Have attended both ‘A’ and ‘B’ pre-grading assessments
- Met other requirements as per private gradings.
In any case, such a promotion is at the discretion of the chief instructor / grading examiner.
Students promoted retrospectively by in-class assessment can only attain a base promotion. ‘A’ and ‘+’ passes can only be awarded at a formal examination (including pre-booked private gradings) as they are based purely on attitude/standard demonstrated in the formal grading examination environment.
What if I can’t attend the grading date?
We do expect people to take the gradings seriously and to make every effort to attend a scheduled event alongside their peers. The grading dates are consistent every year and are published at least 12 months in advance so there is plenty of opportunity for students to plan ahead.
However, if there are truly exceptional circumstances which mean a student will be unable to attend a scheduled grading, we will consider a private assessment.
Justification for Private Assessments
To be clear though, this is only considered for really unavoidable events (such as such as a family wedding, holiday or a clash with an equally important event outside your control). They would not be considered for example simply because you wanted to go out for the day with friends…
There are a number of conditions which govern this, they are covered briefly in the section about Grading Applications.
You must discuss this in advance with a senior instructor or programme director before submitting an application, and you may be required to provide evidence of the reason for non-attendance.
Timing of Private Gradings
Private assessments must be concluded before the quarterly graduation, and would normally be conducted in the two weeks prior to the scheduled examination. We would normally hope to do so during class time or in the pre-grading week sessions, but depending on the students rank and the quarterly syllabus requirements, it may be necessary to book an additional private lesson to cover all the requirements of the grading.
Restrictions on Private Gradings
- Requests for a private grading must be agreed in advance of the application deadline.
- Students may only apply for ONE private grading in any 12 month period.
- Students will not be permitted to take two consecutive private assessments.
- Students will only ever be permitted to take a maximum of two private assessments.
- Private assessments are only available to students who are testing up to 2nd kup (red belt) at the highest.
We cannot guarantee that a private grading will be available, as there are very limited options for booking private lessons at the school, and we would need to arrange for at least one other student to be present for partner drills, or in class for the availability of another instructor to lead the class whilst Master Olpin observes as examiner. With this in mind it is imperative that you make any such requests as early as possible.
Where can we find out the results?
The results will be posted by 6pm monday evening. They will be posted first under the members section of the website
A results sheet will also be posted on the notice boards at the school (or on the door in the cloakroom).