Saturday 22 February 2020


Many people have asked me for an online copy of the International Karate Shotokan 'Official Grading/Examination Requirements'.

It is true that the syllabus is not published online at present. Rather, it is currently only provided to examinees upon their application (or invitation) to attempt their next Dan Test.

What I will say here is that International Karate Shotokan grading syllabus is very different from other groups. Let's look at four points to elucidate this:

1. The kihon is very simple

We use the kihon portion of the exams to access 'specific points'. Consequently, long-winded combinations are not in our tests. Rather, stances, movements/transitions and techniques must be done precisely with intent. Put another way, there is no where to hide one's shortcomings.  

Too often, organizations have kihon requirements that are an end in themselves. We prefer to use this time for impact training and partner kihon for self-defense.

2. We have a huge number of kata to choose from, but...

There are no compulsory kata that one must choose or suddenly have to do on the spot for our Dan Exams! 

Accordingly, this large number of (60+) kata is to give examinees more options and, indeed, requires self-honesty/responsibility to select kata appropriately to maximize their ability. That is, choose kata which best suits one's physique, personal strengths and weaknesses, and so forth. Failure to do so will not only fail karateka in Dan tests but also "have them working on karate which will never maximize their individuality". Needless to say, in self-defense terms, this mainstream idea is not a good, and why a significant number of people see kata as a useless training exercises. 

In theory, one could go through all of the IKS Dan Exams with no more than three kata. This is because we do not base our kata training on tournament rules, which is what has shaped the majority of post WW2 Shotokan. In this way, International Karate Shotokan is going back to the way kata was originally trained.

3. Pertaining to the previous point is Oyo...

Examinees must demonstrate practical understanding/application of their kihon and kata. Again, this pertains to the maxim: 'less is more' and 'quality as opposed to quantity'. In this regard, we have a unique approach handed down from past masters, here in Japan, via the uchideshi relationship.

4. All forms of kumite are practiced

However, at Nidan and above it is permitted to do self-defense as opposed to Jiyu Kumite (this system was put in place by Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei). In self-defense, the examinee is randomly attacked and must respond effectively.

One other point, well worth briefly, is that in IKS Yakusoku Kumite, there many practical elements added. These are experienced here in Japan at IKS, and at Technical Seminars abroad.

Overall, the point of the International Karate Shotokan Grading Syllabus is not only for the test itself but, rather, to guide karateka towards maximizing their own karate as pure Budo/Bujutsu. In this sense, even when not preparing for a grading, the syllabus (as it should do) provides "...a base for one's daily self-training which ensures on-going and measurable skill advancement".

For more information about 国際空手道松濤館 (International Karate Shotokan) you can visit our website here:
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

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