This post provides a summary of the Goju Ryu grading syllabus for the 4th kyu (purple 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.
The post covers the following requirements at the 4th kyu (purple belt) level:
Minimum training time
Generally, you will need to train for at least 6-7 months or 60 sessions since your last grading to be invited to grade to the purple belt (4th kyu). You will have trained for at least two years in total.
As with the 5th kyu grading, in addition to the basic vocabulary, you need to remember the Japanese terms for the new techniques that you learn since the previous grading, including those in your grade kata. For example, you should know the Japanese terms for all the techniques and stances in the Seiyunchin kata (e.g. bensoku dachi (cross leg stance) and renoji dachi (checkmark stance) that appears in your grade kata).
You will be examined on all the techniques that you have learned from the white belt level up until now.
While the number of new techniques that you have to learn as you progress through the ranks will become fewer and fewer, it doesn’t mean that it will become easier to pass your grading as you move up the ranks. You should show significant improvements in your basic techniques since your last grading.
At the 4th kyu level (purple 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 6th kyu to 4th kyu levels (green belt to purple belt), you are considered intermediate students and are expected to demonstrate all basic techniques with full speed and power and good focus and ki-ai.
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 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 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 and mawashi geri (moving forward after each kick and landing into zenkutsu dachi after the last kick, hands in kamae)
- 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, 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).
For your 4th kyu grading, you are required to perform Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, Saifa, Seiyunchin, and Sanchin kata.
At this level, you are expected to show very good forms for Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, and Saifa but only need to demonstrate sequence for the Seiyunchin and Sanchin kata.
Seiyunchin is your grade kata that you will keep learning until you get to the brown belt level.
Seiyunchin (制引戦) means ‘to control and pull‘ in battle.
Seyiunchin is an advanced kata with a more complex embusen and very typical of Goju Ryu style with both hard and soft techniques and both flowing and explosive sequences. You will need to spend many years practicing and fine-tuning your techniques to achieve good form for this kata.
Seiyunchin involves the use of close-quartered striking, take-down, throwing, and escaping techniques. There is no kick in this kata and many techniques are performed in shiko dachi stance which is demanding and requires good lower body strength.
Below are a few demonstrations of this kata by Tsuneo Kinjo sensei, Tetsuya Furukawa sensei, Rika Usami (world kata champion), Morio Higaonna sensei and Tetsuji Nakamura sensei. There are minor differences between these performances, but the essence of the kata remains the same.
For your 4th kyu grading, you are required to demonstrate bunkai for Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, and Saifa kata (both left and right sides and both defense and attack sides).
At your 4th kyu grading, you are required to perform:
- Sandan Gi numbers 1 to 4 drill
- Two-person Gekisai Dai Ichi drill, and
- One-on-one free sparring with partners of both lower and higher ranks.
You are required to demonstrate basic kakie form (sticky hand practice) as well as techniques taken from Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, and Saifa kata.
At the 4th kyu level (purple belt), you are required to show intermediate break-fall techniques starting from squatting positions, including:
- side break-fall from a squatting position (both left and right sides)
- back break-fall from a squatting position
- shoulder roll from a squatting position (both left and right sides).
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 purple belt level, you may be required to perform 55 reps of each of the following:
- air squats
- star jumps
At the 4th kyu level, you may be asked to assist your instructors with showing beginners (white and yellow belt levels) some basic techniques and Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni. Teaching does take away your training time on the dojo floor but can be very beneficial. Any gaps in kata or basic techniques will become apparent during teaching and you will have the opportunity to fill in those gaps and build a solid foundation.
At this level, you should also be able to conduct opening and closing ceremonies as well as lead warm-up exercises.
Other posts you might be interested in:
An Overview of the Goju Ryu Karate Belt System
Goju Ryu Grading Syllabus: White Belt with a Stripe (9th Kyu)
Goju Ryu Grading Syllabus: Yellow Belt (8th Kyu)
Goju Ryu Grading Syllabus: Orange Belt (7th Kyu)
Goju Ryu Grading Syllabus: Green Belt (6th Kyu)
What Is the Purpose of “Chambering” in Karate?
A Complete List of Goju Ryu Stances
What to expect when you undergo a EGKA/IOGKF Grading
English Goju Ryu Karate-do Association – Student Handbook
The IOGKF/EGKA Grading Syllabus Library
IOGKF KYU GRADING REQUIREMENTS
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