Belt Progression

Students studying at Cunningham's Isshin-ryu will proceed through ranks, usually with a formal test between each.  There are no 'freebies' or handouts.  Students that test are given a fair and thorough examination prior to their promotion to a new rank.  When a student earns a rank, they can be assured that they were not promoted for any other reason than the fact that they showed the spirit and skill required for a karate-ka of their new rank.
 
White Belt                         (Ju Kyu)
Every new student at Cunningham Isshin-ryu starts at the same level - white belt.  Students at this rank will be introduced to dojo procedures, upper body basics, basic kicks, and their first formal kata, Seisan.
 
Green Tip White Belt          (Ku Kyu)
Minimum 4-6 weeks of consistent training required.  Students earning ku kyu have demonstrated working knowledge of dojo procedures, can perform 4 basic kicks, can perform half of their 15 upper-body basics, and can perform Seisan kata on a basic level.  There is no formal test for 9th kyu.
 
Yellow Belt                       (Hachi Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since ku kyu promotion.  Students earning hachi kyu have demonstrated clear understanding of dojo procedures, can perform 4 basic kicks with proficiency, can perform all of their 15 upper body basics, and can perform Seisan kata reasonably well.  In addition, students have learned front and back rolls, front fall, rear fall, and rear fall bridge.  Students must take a written history test.  5-7 minutes of kumite conclude this test.
 
Orange Belt                      (Sichi Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since hachi kyu promotion.  Students earning sichi kyu can perform all skills required at yellow belt in addition to Seiuchin kata, 5 additional kicks, and side falls.  Seisan kata should be sharper and more defined as a kata.  A more intensive written test is required.  Approximately 7-9 minutes of kumite conclude this test.
 
Blue Belt                          (Roku Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since hachi kyu promotion.  Students earning roku kyu can perform all skills required at orange belt in addition to Naihanchi kata.  Seisan and Seichin katas should be sharper and more refined.  A more intensive written test is required.  Approximately 10 minutes of kumite conclude this test.
 
Green Belt                       (Go Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since roku kyu promotion.  Students earning go kyu can perform all skills required at blue belt in addition to Wansu kata.  All previous kata should be sharp and more refined.  A more intensive written test is required.  Approximately 12 minutes of kumite conclude this test.
 
Purple Belt                      (Yon Kyu)
Minimum 6 months of consistent training since go kyu promotion.  Students earning yon kyu can perform all skills required at green belt in addition to Chinto kata.  All previous kata should be sharp and more refined.  Approximately 15 minutes of kumite conclude this test.  Students at yon kyu should feel reasonably comfortable leading the class in a variety of exercises should the need arise.  There is no written test for this grade.
 
Brown Belt                      (San Kyu)
Minimum 6 months of consistent training since yon kyu promotion.  Students earning san kyu can perform all skills required at purple belt in addition to Kusanku kata and Tokumine no Kun (bo kata).  A more intensive written test is required.  Approximately 20-25 minutes of kumite conclude this test.  Students at san kyu should feel reasonably comfortable leading the class in a variety of exercises in addition to taking on the responsibility of teaching a variety of techniques to lower ranking students with supervision.
 
Brown Belt                      Black Tip (Ni Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since san kyu promotion.  Students earning ni kyu can perform all skills required at brown belt in addition to Kusanku Sai weapon kata.  There is no formal test for this rank.  Students at ni kyu should feel reasonably comfortable leading the class in a variety of exercises in addition to taking on the responsibility of teaching a variety of techniques to lower ranking students with supervision.
 
Brown Belt                     2 Black Tips (Ik Kyu)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since ni Kyu promotion.  Students earning ik kyu can perform all skill required at brown belt in addition to Kusanku Sai and Sanchin kata.  There is no formal test for this rank.  Students at ik kyu should feel reasonably comfortable leading the class in a variety of exercises in addition to taking on the responsibility of teaching a variety of techniques to lower ranking students with supervision.
 
Black Belt                     (Shodan)
Minimum 3 months of consistent training since ik kyu promotion.  Students earning Shodan rank can perform all skills required at brown belt in addition to Kusanku Sai, Sanchin, and Sunsu kata.  A more intensive written test is required in addition to an essay response to a topic relevant to your training.  Approximately 30 minutes of kumite conclude this test.  Students at Shodan should feel comfortable leading the class in a variety of exercises in addition to taking on the responsibility of teaching a variety of techniques to lower ranking students with or without supervision.
 
2nd Degree Black Belt     (Ni-dan)
Minimum 2 years consistent training since promotion to Shodan.  In addition to all Shodan rank requirements, students are required to demonstrate proficiency in their choice of weapons kata, selecting two kata from Urashi Bo, Tuifa (Tonfa), or Chatanyara.  Students will also demonstrate proficiency in Kyoshi Cunningham's personal kata, Mangusu.  Bunkai to all kata will make up a significant portion of the Ni-dan examination.
 
3rd Degree Black Belt      (San-dan)
Minimum 3 years consistent training since promotion to Ni-dan.  Students will be informed of other requirements as necessary.

Promotions beyond San-dan follow and can occur with or without warning.  Suffice it to say once a student has reached San-dan rank, they know what is required of them at any given rank beyond that point.
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