Kyu Grading Rules

Last Updated: 15th April 2022

The aim of the kyu grading system is to encourage students during the early stages of their karate journey, and provide constructive feedback on the development of their karate. Kyu gradings are opportunities for karateka to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding of Shotokan Karate. They should not be seen as obstacles or hurdles to be overcome, but assessments of progress that encourage further development. Kyu gradings also provide the opportunity for instructors to assess the effectiveness of the learning and teaching strategies they have employed. Kyu gradings assess the performance of the club instructors, as well as that of the karateka.


  1. Shotokan Connect karateka will be eligible to take kyu gradings if all of the following criteria are met:

    • they are a Member of Shotokan Connect and hold a current Shotokan Connect licence (NB Independent Members of Shotokan Connect are not eligible to grade with Shotokan Connect), and they have trained regularly at a Shotokan Connect club, twice a week wherever possible 
    • they have the permission of their club instructor to grade 
    • it has been 13 weeks or more since their last grading 
    • ungraded karateka must have trained for a minimum of 9 weeks before being eligible to take their first kyu grading 

  1. Gradings may be taken at the karateka’s own dojo, at another Shotokan Connect dojo or, where applicable, at a Shotokan Connect event.

  2. Club instructors may, at their discretion, elect to enter an ungraded karateka for an 11th, 10th or 9th kyu grading.

  3. Grading examiners, in liaison with the club instructor, may, at their discretion, award a karateka whose grade is 9th kyu or below any grade up to and including 8th kyu.

  4. The performance of a karateka during their grading will be assessed using five criteria (technique, kime, speed, posture and attitude) for each section of the three sections of the grading (kihon, kata and kumite) where appropriate.

  5. Criteria will be judged to have been met, partially met or not met.

  6. Where the threshold number of criteria for the award of a grade have not been met, but an appropriate number of criteria have been met, or partially met, an intermediate grade will be awarded by the examiners.

  7. Where the threshold number of criteria have not been met or partially met for the award of a grade or an intermediate grade, the karateka may retake the grading after a minimum of 13 weeks.

  8. Kyu grades who have joined Shotokan Connect from another association may train at their current grade wearing the appropriate Shotokan Connect belt. However, they must take a Shotokan Connect grading within 26 weeks of joining the association, at which point they will be awarded the grade they currently hold, the next grade up, or a lower grade, at the discretion of the examiners.

  9. There are no age restrictions for Shotokan Connect karateka undertaking kyu gradings.

  10. Gumshields, groin protectors (where appropriate) and hand mitts are compulsory for jiyu ippon kumite. Chest protectors (where appropriate) are recommended for jiyu ippon kumite.
  11. There is no appeal process with regard to the outcome of a kyu grading. The decision of the grading examiner is final.