At Zen Budo, we believe that any student can learn to defend themselves. Proper training allows better responses to a wide array of emergency situations (not just physical self-defense) by empowering the students to take simple, decisive action. Even a 5 year old can escape a wrist grab or a choke and learn to get to safety. Learning from challenging improvisational drills prepares a student for split second decision making, which is so crucial in emergencies.
The "style" of Zen Budo, if it can be called that, is a system of 14 drills. "Ju-Yon-Shuren-Ryu" is Japanese for literally "14 drills method". The 14 drills encompass sparring, grappling, trapping, kicking, joint locks, body throws and pressure points. We do not preserve a particular "style" such as "Shotokan Karate" or "Tomiki Aikido". Rather, we are based around live action drilling and core techniques found in many styles, and all based in real self-defense scenarios, not competition sports. People practicing different arts, so long as they are engaging in these drills, is no problem at Zen Budo.
One of the main errors of self defense training is teaching too many techniques. The brain, when under stress, cannot properly go through a catalog of hundreds or thousands of techniques. When replying instinctively it's best to be very good at a few things, not mediocre at hundreds of things. Because of this, Zen Budo has seven hand strikes, seven deflections, seven targets, seven leg techniques, etc. From this simple list the student can combine simple techniques in whatever way they need to defend themselves.
It's important to remember that respectful and proper behavior is the number one requirement to receive any belt. A misbehaving child will not be given a belt as a reward. Proper protocol, wearing of uniform, salute, meditation and all other customs must be observed before any student is considered for promotion.
Promotion is NOT automatic because of time spent in class. There are no automatic promotions and tests are always challenging, never easy. The instructor will run a mock test (a class that is very similar to a belt test) a few weeks before the test to see who is ready, and those students will qualify to test. They will receive an email requesting payment for the belt test, depending on the provider if applicable. Depending on the advancement of the class everyone in the class could be ready or it might be that no one in the class is ready. The progression of the class also relates to how well the students follow proper protocols and class discipline.
All students start as a White Belt.
White Belt Stripe:
Go no Kata first five blocks with class. Front Choke Escape, Two Hand Wrist Grab escape. Proper punch executed with speed and power. Proper Front Kick executed with speed and power. Two person close range nagashi parry against a punch. Two person close range rising block against hammerfist attack.
Go No Kata: All five blocks and all five strikes correctly done with the whole class. All Choke escapes (front, side, back). All Hand grab escapes (One Hand, Two Hand, Back Two Hand, Guard Grab). Experience doing light sparring or point sparring at least once. Two person drills for all Go No Kata strikes and blocks.
Yellow Belt, Stripe
Go No Kata alone, with instructor calling out the proper strikes during second half. Sparring proficiency, especially proficiency circling the opponent and proper guard. Student must have at least one joint lock or takedown. Must know one kyusho point/area and can demonstrate it.
Go no Kata done alone in front of class with no prompting or help other than counting.
Three takedowns, jointlocks or submissions in sequence. Sparring proficiency such that they are above average at sparring for a child of their age/size.
Green Belt, Stripe
Go No Kata, Pinan Shodan. Five takedowns/jointlocks/submissions all in sequence. Continuous light contact sparring.
Go No Kata, Pinan Shodan. Five takedowns/jointlocks/submissions all in sequence. Continuous light contact sparring. Student's sparring should show improvement over last belt rank. Student should be able to demonstrate sparring concepts on request. Student must be able to do some form of armbar against any attack. Body Grab Defenses, Tackle Defense.
Blue Belt, Stripe
In addition to above, Pinan Nidan. 3 Takedowns, 3 Submissions, Sparring improvement, must demonstrate trap/hook/pin/wrap/pivot concepts in sparring. Simple 4 Person Randori. 3 Demonstrations of Bunkai from kata.
The red belt test is an entirely different format. It's a 6 hour test where the instructors go over all the material in the system. Pinan Sandan and Kyusho No Kata are both required.
In addition to above Pinan Yondan and Pinan Godan. 5 Prearranged bunkai which include takedowns and submissions. Ne waza sparring. Continuous sparring. 2 Person Sparring. 3 Knife Defenses (prearranged) 3 Stick Defenses (prearranged).
Brown Belt Stripe: In addition to above a demonstration of their chosen Black Belt Kata. Sparring, Freestyle Kyusho Drill. Other requirements as requested by judges.
Black Belt: As stated below the requirements are as follows:
2. Five Open Hand Bunkai (pre arranged).
3. Three Stick, three Knife Bunkai (pre arranged)
4. Ne Waza Ground Escapes
5. 4 Corner Randori
6. Freestyle Kyusho drill
7. Freestyle Knife/Stick attack drill.