This post provides a summary of the Goju Ryu grading syllabus for the 2nd kyu (brown belt) based on the grading syllabus of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (IOGKF), a few other Goju Ryu schools, and my personal experience.
As every Goju Ryu organization has its own grading requirements and your own dojo may follow a curriculum very different from this one, the following is just for general reference purposes only so that you know what to expect at each grading. However, I believe if you can blitz through these requirements, you will be ready for whatever they throw at you.
As a brown belt, you are considered an advanced student and from now on it will take you a lot longer to move up the ranks. In fact, going from brown belt to black belt will take you a lot longer than going from white belt to purple belt.
The focus of your training between the 3rd kyu grading and shodan grading is fine-tuning your basic techniques, learning a new kata (Shisochin) and its bunkai, improving your fitness level and preparing for your black belt grading.
However, you must be proficient with all curriculum contents from white belt up until now, so you need to be able to demonstrate all basic techniques, kata, bunkai, and kumite drills that you’ve been taught and also show what you learn in your free sparring session.
As you progress closer to the black belt level, your grading will become longer and more physically demanding because there is a lot more content to cover. However, to me, getting a black belt is similar to getting a university degree in personal self-defense and it does require a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Below are the grading requirements at the 2nd kyu level:
Minimum training time
Generally, you will need to train for at least 8-9 months or 80 sessions since your last grading to be invited to grade to 2nd kyu (brown belt). You will have trained for over three years at least so far.
You should know all Japanese terms for the new techniques that you learn since the previous grading, including those in your grade kata.
Standing basics and moving basics for 2nd kyu grading are largely the same as for 3rd kyu grading, however, you should show substantial improvements in your techniques after 8 to 9 months of training since the last grading.
As with all previous grading, you will be examined on all the techniques that you have learned from the white belt level up until now.
At the 2nd kyu level (brown belt), you will need to demonstrate the following techniques from the stationary heiko dachi stance.
- Jodan tsuki (face level punch, aiming at around the jinchu area)
- Chudan tsuki (middle-level punch, from your chin to suigetsu area)
- Gedan tsuki (lower level punch between suigetsu and groin)
- Sanbon tsuki (triple punches: jodan, chudan and gedan tsuki)
- Ura tsuki (middle-level short punch)
- Furi tsuki (roundhouse punch/swinging punch)
- Kagi tsuki (hook punch to the body)
- Age uke (rising block)
- Yoko uke (block from inside out)
- Soto uke (block from outside in)
- Gedan barai (downward sweeping block)
- Sanbon uke (triple blocks: age uke, yoko uke, and gedan barai)
- Hiki uke (pulling hand block)
- Kake uke (hook block)
- Jodan ko uke (upper-level wrist block)
- Tora guchi (tiger mouth block, also referred to as mawashi uke)
- Ura uchi (back fist strike)
- Hiji ate (elbow strike)
- Mawashi hiji ate (roundhouse elbow
- Ushiro hiji ate (back elbow strike)
- Tetsui uchi (hammer fist)
- Shuto uchi (knife hand strike)
- Teisho uchi: palm heel strike (also called shotei uchi)
- Nukite tsuki or nukite uchi (knife hand punch/spear-hand strike at jodan and chudan levels)
- Kin geri (groin kick)
- Mae geri (front kick)
- Kin geri and mae geri (double kick, same leg)
- Mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
- Kansetsu geri (stamping kick)
- Yoko geri (side kick)
- Ushiro geri (back kick)
- Kaiten ushiro geri (spinning back kick)
- Kin geri, mae geri, mawashi geri, and ushiro geri (four kicks, same leg)
- Mae tobi geri (jumping front kick).
You will have to perform at least 30 reps for each technique and are expected to have a very good fitness level.
From the 3rd kyu onward, you are considered advanced students and are expected to show exceptionally good forms for all basic techniques. You should show hip engagement throughout and technically correct techniques with full speed, power and good kime.
You will be required to perform the following moving basics (kihon ido):
- Jodan age uke and jodan gyaku tsuki (moving backward in sanchin dachi stance)
- Chudan yoko uke and chudan gyaku tsuki (moving backward in zenkutsu dachi stance)
- Gedan barai and chudan gyaku tsuki (moving backward at a 45-degree angle into shiko dachi stance and shifting front foot to zenkutsu dachi for the chudan gyaku tsuki)
- Chudan yoko uke and chudan ura tsuki (moving backward into sanchin dachi stance)
- Joge uke and morote tsuki (moving backward into sanchin dachi to perform double block and double punch)
- Hiji ate and gyaku tsuki (moving forward into zenkutsu dachi and performing elbow strike and reverse punch)
- Hiji ate, ura uchi, gedan uke, and gyaku tsuki (moving forward at a 45-degree angle into shiko dachi stance and performing elbow strike, back fist strike, lower level block and reverse punch)
- Chudan uchi uke and haito uchi (moving backward into sanchin dachi stance and executing middle-level block to the side and ridge-hand strike using the same hand)
- Hiki uke (moving backward at a 45-degree angle into neko ashi dachi stance and executing hiki uke)
- Hiki uke and kizami kin geri (moving backward at a 45-degree angle into neko ashi dachi stance and executing hiki uke and kin geri with the leading leg)
- Hiki uke and gyaku tsuki (moving backward into a neko ashi dachi and executing hiki uke then shifting the front foot across into zenkutsu dachi and performing gyaku tsuki)
- Gedan tetsui uchi and ura uchi (moving forward at a 45-degree angle into shiko dachi stance and performing lower hammer strike and back fist strike)
- Jodan shotei uchi and shuto uchi (moving forward into sanchin dachi stance and performing palm heel strike and knife hand strike)
- Jodan mawashi hiji ate, jodan uraken uchi, chudan ura tsuki (moving forward into sanchin dachi stance and performing round elbow strike to the head level, back fist strike (with same hand), and close-range straight punch with palm facing upwards (with the other hand))
- Age tsuki, ura uchi, gedan uke, and gyaku tsuki (moving forward at a 45-degree angle into shiko dachi stance and performing rising punch or uppercut, back fist strike, lower level block and reverse punch). This combination is taken from the Seyiunchin kata
- Mae geri and chudan kizami tsuki (kicking mae geri, landing into sanchin dachi stance, and punching with the lead hand)
- Mawashi geri and gyaku tsuki (moving forward and landing into zenkutsu dachi stance)
- Mae geri, hiji-ate, ura uchi (also known as uraken), gedan barai, and gyaku tsuki (after kicking mae geri, landing into zenkutsu dachi and executing hand techniques). This sequence is taken out of the Gekisai Dai Ichi kata).
- Kansetsu geri (also known as Sokuto geri) and gyaku tsuki (kicking kansetsu geri and landing into han-zenkutsu dachi, then punching gyaku tsuki)
- Mae geri, mawashi geri, and kaiten ushiro geri (moving forward into sanchin dachi after each kick)
- Mae geri, mawashi geri, yoko geri, kaiten ushiro geri (moving forward into sanchin dachi after each kick).
Shisochin (四向戦) means ‘to destroy in four directions‘ or ‘four directional battle‘.
The name reflects the four palm-heel strikes at the beginning of the kata.
Another interpretation of ‘four directions’ is that it represents the four elements: Wood, Fire, Metal and Water with man representing Earth.
Shisochin has many open-hand techniques such as yonhon nukite (knife hand strikes with four finger tips) and teisho uchi (palm-heel strikes). It also includes blocks, circular movements, and powerful linear attacks.
Shisochin was introduced to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna and is said to be one of Chojun Miyagi’s favorite katas in his later years who said it suited his body well.
You will be performing this kata as a part of the grading requirements for 2nd kyu, 1st kyu and shodan.
Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.
At your 2nd kyu grading, you are required to perform:
- Sandan Gi numbers 1 to 4 drill
- Two-person Gekisai Dai Ichi drill, and
- Free-style sparring (one against one and one against two) with partners of both lower and higher ranks.
At the 2nd kyu level, you are required to demonstrate advanced break-fall techniques for both left and right sides, including:
- Shoulder roll from a standing position
- Shoulder roll to side break-fall from a standing position
- Side break-fall from a simple throw.
As mentioned in the previous post of this series, most Goju Ryu dojos include some form of fitness test either at the end or at the beginning of the grading and it will get tougher as you move up the ranks.
As an example, at the brown belt level, you may be required to perform 65 reps of each of the following:
- air squats
- star jumps
At the 2nd kyu level, you should be able to confidently run a class (opening and closing ceremonies, warm-up, and kihon training) and help teach beginner and intermediate students.
Other posts you might be interested in:
Confidence is a valuable attribute. Those who exude confidence believe in their own abilities, skills, judgment, and decisions and are likely to approach challenges in life with a sense of...
Many are of the view that to improve their karate, they need to train with senior students and instructors, the higher their dan, the better. However, the truth is, you can learn just as much from...