Children are accepted beginning at 7 years old. The necessary motor and attention skills are developed by this age. 5- and 6-year-olds will be accepted ONLY if an older sibling or a parent is already enrolled in the dojo.The goal of the children’s class is to allow the children to grow and develop while being themselves and having fun. As they grow older, they take care of their juniors (caring for others) and learn to lead class (having responsibility). As their technical competency increases, their confidence and self-respect increase. Students learn to respect authority but not fear nor abuse it. By becoming directly involved in handling classes, they develop character, leadership and an awareness of community.
"The color of the belt does not make the person; the person makes the color of the belt."
Beginning at the purple belt level, stripes are no longer given out. The students learn to show their rank by their behavior, not by how many stripes are on their belt. Students are generally 14-16 years old when achieving brown belt. Thus the two higher brown belt tests and the black belt test use the same test requirements as the adults.
The minimum requirements for black belt (shodan) are 16 years of age and 5 years of practice. By 16, the student has had enough life experience to better understand the distinction between wearing a black belt and being a black belt.
Beginning around 11 years old, students at blue belt level or higher begin to help orient new students into the dojo and, when assigned, lead warm-ups at the start of class and/or lead small groups within class. This allows the student to model behavior for others and to begin to see the impact of that behavior on others.
Beginning around 14 years old, students at purple belt level or higher can be assigned to teach a specific technique to the entire class. This gives practice in public speaking and presentation skills.
Purple or brown belts who are 15 years or older can be assigned to teach an entire class under the direct supervision of the instructor. The instructor may be off the mat, but will always observe the activity. Teaching develops skills in leadership, conflict resolution and coaching; feedback from the instructor is given where appropriate.
After having at least 6 months of teaching under supervision, brown belts can be given a class to teach. The instructor or another supervising adult, who may be a parent, will always be present.