I am proud to announce that the new SKS curriculum journals have finally arrived!
So far, the feedback from parents has been really awesome and I am excited to roll out our new testing procedures coinciding with the release of the new curriculum.
It has been more than 5 years since I last updated our testing and curriculum process and while I wasn’t looking to make radical changes to it, there were areas that I wanted to improve that would add more value to our program.
Here’s a quick highlight of the curriculum improvements:
- The new curriculum books have been created in a JOURNAL format. This is meant to be a working book. Students can check off when they have learned a technique and present the book when they are ready to test for a belt stripe or tip. (More on that later.)
- I have included a REFERENCE section in each journal, that includes martial arts terms, rules of etiquette, how to tie your belt, sparring drills, school patches, uniforms, the history of karate and a short biography of your’s truly.
- I have added the meaning of the color for each belt rank and it’s significance to your journey to Black belt.
- I have added safety alert reminders that will minimize injuries and inspire good training partners.
- I have added all of the belt ranks and included a page where you can sign off on the dates you achieved your belt rank.
- I have reintroduced karate terms as part of requirements for belt rank.
- I have modified the curriculum so that “like” techniques are now together. For example, front bear hug and back bear hug are part of the same tip requirement. (I believe this will make it easier for the student to remember the material.)
- I have “tweaked” the curriculum so that there is a better progression or flow of technique. For example, sparring drill #2 is now #1.
- I have incorporated time lines for when you are eligible to purchase weapons or wear new uniforms.
- I have broken out most of our traditional kata’s into sections, to help improve the memory of them.
- I have incorporated a fitness requirement for each belt rank – by the time the student is ready to test for black belt they need to be in excellent shape.
- Lastly, I have created a Black Belt Excellence Character Journal that includes a life skill and character theme per belt rank. Each term has a worksheet that needs to be completed by the student, signed off by the parent and by one of our instructors or me. One of the missions of SKS is to help our children develop strong character and leadership skills that will inspire them to do their best outside the dojo many years after achieving their black belts! While students of all ages can utilize this book, this program is mandatory for students ages 12 and younger. (For those SKS students currently in the Leadership class or higher, your participation is voluntary.)
To my knowledge, no other martial arts school in the area offers such a comprehensive character development and leadership program and includes it as part of rank advancement!
New Testing Format Explained
Now that you know many of the enhancements to our new curriculum, let me take a moment and explain the new testing procedure.
- Each belt rank is broken out in sections or stripe/tips.
- When a student has mastered the techniques in that section, they will be allowed to test for that stripe/tip. This will normally be done in class at the start or near the end.
- The student will present their journal and indicate what they are testing for. If the student completes the techniques to me or another instructor commensurate with their belt rank, they will be awarded their belt tip (black). If not, they can test whenever they are prepared to pass.
- Once the student achieves their 5th stripe/tip (which is Red), they are eligible to be promoted during the next belt graduation. For now, students will manually fill out a Request For Belt Advancement Form. (I am looking to create an online version). This form must be turned in no later than 2 weeks prior to belt graduation. There will be no exceptions. Unfortunately, I need 2 weeks lead time to order new belts and print certificates.
- When students are ready to graduate from one class to another, for example, beginner confident to leadership, that student will need to pass a written and physical test before advancing into that next class. That test will occur the Saturday following belt graduation.
- With the exception of our standard belt graduation fee, there will be no charge for tip testing or class advancement testing.
Benefits of The New Journal/Testing Format
SKS students now have a working tool that not only chronicles their black belt journey, but the new format let’s them (and parents) know exactly where they stand in terms of rank advancement. I purposefully created the journals this way to give each student, regardless of age, more responsibility and accountability for their training.
While I will continue to inspire and motivate to the best of my ability; and provide training that will develop very capable Black belts, I believe students who “Step Up” and take charge of their training will be more successful in their journey to Black belt!