Rank certification in the martial arts can be a touchy subject. There are thousands of organizations out there that claim to bestow rank on members of the martial arts community, however, not all organizations are created equal. Here at Cyber Taekwondo, we have put together some guidelines to help you discern the REAL from the FAKE. Keep these in mind when shopping around for martial art schools to train at. Or maybe you are an experienced martial artist and question the legitimacy of your certification. Whatever the case, we are here to help.
1. Colored Belt Certifications
A Colored Belt is any rank held in the martial arts other than Black Belt. Colored Belts are very important to the martial arts, as are their certifications. It is important to note, however, that there is no such thing as a Colored Belt rank certification. When you receive a Black Belt, your name, rank, and database number are logged into a system that keeps track of your progression. There is no system that exist for Colored Belts. The reason for this is because, so many people begin martial arts training, but quit before they ever reach Black Belt. It would be a large undertaking for a martial art ranking organization to keep track of every person who ever trained. Colored Belt certifications are for each individual school’s use only to track the progression of their students along their curriculum.
2. School Certifications
Some martial art instructors decide to give school certifications, and not certifications from martial arts organizations. Essentially, if John train at X School, he would get a certification that said he was a Black Belt at X School. This does a huge disservice to students as their rank is not transferable between schools. If John moved, he would likely have to start over at another school, or his placement in his new program would be at the discretion of the instructor.
3. International Certifications
International certifications are just that; international. These certifications allow you take your rank to any school you may train at, but usually within the same style of martial art. This means that an international Taekwondo certification would only be valid at Taekwondo schools, not Karate, Kung Fu, or other schools. The good thing about these certifications is that as long as it is within the same style, the certification is valid. Even if there are slight differences in curriculum within the style.
4. Multiple Style Organizations
Multiple style organizations compile many styles under one roof, and certify rank to those styles. The problem with organizations of this type is that they are not the authority, or highest grade of certification, on those styles. It is important to know that not all organizations, or schools for that matter, or created equal. Some have more credibility than others. For example, rank certifications from multiple style organizations are not accepted everywhere. You will have to be very particular about where you go to train.
5. One Style Organizations (Low Authority)
Organizations that only certify one style are typically the best. This does not mean that they are the authority on the style, but rather that they specialize in the style. These organizations tend to be more reputable, have a long-standing history, and are transparent in their dealings. Moreso, their rank certificates are accepted more places around the world.
6. One Style Organizations (High Authority)
Organizations that have the top authority over a style are the best places to get rank certifications. These organizations tend to have more strict testing requirements, mandatory time in rank restrictions, along with age restrictions. These organization’s rank certifications are also accepted within the style anywhere in the world as they certify individuals world-wide; not just nationally. A few high authority organizations are listed below.
Taekwondo (World Taekwondo Style) – The Kukkiwon
Taekwondo ( ITF Style) – International Taekwon-Do Federation
Karate – the Japan Karate Association (JKA)
Judo – International Judo Federation
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation
Kung Fu – International Kung Fu Federation