Competing in Kickboxing tournaments are not compulsory, however, in order to grade higher than Orange Belt, you need to compete in any mode of Kickboxing. Your instructors will guide you and should you choose to compete, they will let you know when you are ready. Keep in mind that we have a very strict standard and we do not let anyone compete if they are not ready.
THE SHIDO CURRICULUM
Our curriculum consists of the following belt ranks:
1st Rank - White Belt
2nd Rank - Red Belt (2 Stripes)
3rd Rank - Yellow Belt (2 Stripes)
4th Rank - Orange Belt (2 Stripes)
5th Rank - Green Belt (3 Stripes)
6th Rank - Blue Belt (2 Stripes)
7th Rank - Purple Belt (3 Stripes)
8th Rank - Brown Belt (3 Stripes)
9th Rank - Black Belt
We use stripes to divide each belt rank's curriculum into smaller segments to make it easier for our students to work through the SHIDO curriculum. This way, the student can focus on mastering the curriculum step by step instead of being overwhelmed by having too much information and techniques that they need to work through. In our experience, this leads to higher technical mastery as the student can zone in and focus on mastering a specific part of the curriculum before moving on to the next part.
Here's an example of how this works:
When you start out as a White Belt, you will focus on mastering the first half of the Red Belt curriculum. Once you are ready, we will invite you to your first grading. After demonstrating competency in the first half of the Red Belt curriculum, you will advance in rank and receive your Red Belt. This means that you are now on the Red Belt level, and we will now teach you the second half of the Red Belt curriculum. Once you are ready, you will be invited to your second grading, where you will be tested on the full Red Belt curriculum. If you pass this test, you will be awarded your 2-Stripe Red Belt. After receiving this new rank, it means that you have worked through the full Red Belt curriculum and you are now ready to prepare to advance to the rank of Yellow Belt.
SHIDO Kickboxing Gradings
A grading is a test that determines whether a student is ready to advance to the next rank. We believe that when something takes effort, dedication, and hard work, its value greatly increases. This is because the reward is no longer "just a reward" but a reflection of all the hard work you had to put in to achieve it. Our gradings are, therefore, quite challenging because we test our students physically, mentally, and emotionally. We believe that a true martial artist should be well-developed in all three those areas, and not just in the area of physical skill and fitness.
As you progress in rank, the Kickboxing gradings gradually become more difficult, and the demands increase. An easy way to explain this is to imagine a student as a steel chain. This chain symbolises the student's physical, mental, and emotional strength and skill. Each belt rank's grading applies a certain amount of stress onto that "chain" to find any weak links preventing the student from performing well on their new rank. In the beginning, the chain is weak so the stress that's applied to the student in their first grading is quite low, but the higher the rank, the higher the amount of stress will be because the chain is supposed to be stronger. If the student can handle the demands and stress placed upon them, they will pass the test. If not, the student will fail the test and must return to training and prepare to redo it. This is the purpose of the grading system, to test the student in all three of these areas and to determine whether they are strong and skilled enough to advance to their new rank.
When doing a SHIDO grading, the judges will use a detailed scoresheet to score your performance. Each rank has a different pass rate; the higher the rank, the more difficult it is to pass. The gradings start out quite easy and then gradually increase in difficulty. This allows the student's mind and body to gradually adapt to the increased demands and difficulty. This in itself is a training method; once a student has progressed through 6 gradings, they have levelled up 6 times. What was difficult 5 gradings ago is now so easy that they can do it easily. To be able to grade, you must have regular class attendance and be proficient in all the requirements of the new belt rank. Our instructors closely monitor the progression of our students, and they will invite the students that are ready.
The SHIDO Combination System
The SHIDO Kickboxing Curriculum is extremely vast and teaches a full spectrum of striking techniques that contain concepts from various striking martial arts. Our Head Instructor, Sensei Morné, has travelled and trained with many different instructors from various martial art styles over the years. He has studied each style and designed his own striking system. As the famous Bruce Lee said, "Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is essentially your own". The SHIDO Curriculum contains elements from various martial art styles such as Taekwondo, Karate, Boxing, Muaythai, and Kickboxing.
One of the keys to becoming skilled at something is to practice it over and over; as a martial art master once said, "Repetition is the mother of all skills". When our bodies and minds are exposed to something over a prolonged period, they adapt and evolve. For example, when riding a bicycle, in the beginning, you keep falling over and struggle to keep your balance. But with time, your body and mind start to adapt, they start to find your centre of balance and your coordination and mind-body connection starts to improve. The key to this was repetition and developing muscle memory.
"One becomes a beginner after one thousand days of training and an expert after ten thousand days of practice." - Masutatsu Oyama
Because of this, our Head Instructor has developed combinations that contain the concepts, skills and techniques that are required for each belt rank. These combinations are highly practical and realistic as they were designed to be used in combat. Practising these combinations provide the student with a fast and efficient way to build up proper muscle memory and conditioning that improves their technical skill and prepares them for actual combat. The repetition of these combinations causes the body and mind of the student to adapt and evolve, which results in greater balance, flexibility, power, and technical skill.
Benefits of the combination system include:
Improved mental clarity and focus.
Improved emotional control and resilience.
Improved flexibility and mobility.
Improved precision and body control.
Improved discipline and mental control.
Improved technical ability and coordination.
Improved posture and strength.
These combinations are required for all our gradings, as they test the fundamentals, technical skills, and physical attributes required to advance in rank. All students have access to their relevant part of the curriculum through our Member's Only section on the website so they can practice the SHIDO curriculum no matter where they are. Once a student logs into their account, they can see all the techniques and combinations they must know for their next grading, including the physical, emotional and mental qualities that must be honed to be eligible for their next belt rank.
The Sparring Curriculum
The SHIDO Combination System is the technical part of our curriculum, but we also have a part of the curriculum that's focused on the practical application of these techniques and combinations in combat. We believe that no student can be trained the same, each person has a unique personality, and therefore the expression of their personality will be different in martial arts. Sensei Morné, with his extensive experience in the field of Psychology and Self-Development, has created 6 different Kickboxing styles that fit well with specific personalities and each of them has different forms of expression. Some are more aggressive and physical styles, whereas others focus more on strategic, intellectual fighting rather than brute strength and power.
As students progress in their journey at SHIDO, they will discover more about themselves and learn what "type of fighter" they truly are. As Bruce Lee said, "To control myself, I must first accept myself by going with and not against my true nature". The SHIDO Sparring Curriculum is aimed at doing exactly that. We firmly believe that an all-rounded fighter should have a variety of attributes, and these attributes gave birth to the 6 different styles in our curriculum. These fighting styles are all based on the different elements of nature, and each student will explore them and truly find and develop their own unique way of expressing themselves in martial arts.
The Journey To Black Belt
A question that we get asked quite often is "How long will it take to get my Black Belt?"
We believe that the journey to Black Belt should not be rushed. If a student progresses through the curriculum too fast without spending time to master the finer details, it will lead to the student having flaws in their technical foundation. Besides that, it takes time for the body and mind to adapt and evolve. With time your body will harden, your mind will become stronger, and your knowledge and understanding of yourself and the art of Kickboxing will grow immensely. But unfortunately, this process cannot be rushed. Each student blossoms at their own rate, as the challenges each of us face on our journey through life and training will be different. If this process is rushed, the person might physically be on the level of Black Belt in terms of fitness and skill, but they will not be ready on a mental and emotional level. This will result in various emotional, mental, and character issues. Being a Black Belt is far more than physical skill and athleticism. The mind, emotions, and body must function in unity. If this balance is not achieved, a student will struggle to embody the true essence of a Black Belt.
The key to becoming a true Black Belt is to be patient and to work hard on the task in front of you. Focus on the rank that you are on and master that first. Before focusing on becoming a Black Belt, focus on becoming a brilliant Red Belt, then on becoming an outstanding Yellow Belt, and so on. Becoming a SHIDO Black Belt is no easy task. You will be tested physically, mentally, and emotionally, and you will learn more about yourself and conquer many of your internal obstacles on the way. But on the way to that destination, your life will change for the better, you will learn valuable lessons about yourself, others and life, and you will become a more powerful, confident, and wiser version of yourself. To answer the question more directly, depending on the dedication and work effort of the particular student, on average it takes around 8 years for someone to become a SHIDO Black Belt. But remember, reaching the rank of Black Belt is only the beginning of a whole new journey!
"A Black Belt is nothing more than a belt, a piece of cloth. Your ultimate goal should not be to get your Black Belt. Your ultimate goal should be to become a Black Belt. Being a Black Belt is a state of mind, a way of life." - Bohdi Sanders