Rank Promotions

What do ranking system and the belt signify in the martial arts and what is the point?

To the hard core martial artist, mostly those that have already earned one or several black belts, “The Belt” is merely something to hold your gi closed and your pants up. For the Judoka is a great handle to use when throwing or submitting an opponent.  To some it is a measure of ability.  To others it is a measure of time and commitment to learning and achieving a goal. To younger martial artist,  it can be many things, but one thing for sure it is something to be proud of.  To me the ranking system is all of these things and more. At Checkmate we have two ranking system. The belts are as follows White, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Green, Blue, Brown III, Brown II, Brown I, and Black. All youth ranks are signified with a white stripe.  Around age 13- 15 your child will test out of his or her youth rank and cross over to the adult ranking system and begin to learn Jujitsu. Black Belt is called Shodan (pronounced Showdon), Translation to English is “First Step” It is at this point that the pressures of achieving black belt are gone and the pursuit of the “ART” and self discovery can begin.

We are affiliated with three world class international martial arts organizations. The first is Jujitsu America, of which we have been a member of and support for the past 20+ years. The second is The United States Judo Federation. The third is Small Circle Jujitsu. All of these organizations are non-profit and exist for the mutual benefit of all who participate in them. Jujitsu America “JA” and The United States Judo Association ”USJA” differ in that JA’s governing body and membership are comprised of many different styles of martial arts combined with Jujitsu. It has no formal requirements for jujitsu rank promotions except to that of Black belt. It leaves the structure and promotion of the students up to the discretion of the Head Instructor. The USJA has a formal testing procedure and requirements for each rank. The USJA is an Organization that supports the sport of JUDO. As a member of JA or USJA a student will be ranked in an international organization and enjoy the privilege of having his or her rank recognized by any other affiliated organization. If you wish to compete in Judo tournaments you must be registered with either the USJA or another internationally recognized judo organization.

So what does all this mean and what does it cost?

To be a member of JA the yearly membership fee is $35 for USJA it is $40. The testing fee is $30 for every rank up to brown under both organizations. The promotion fee covers the cost of the belt and registration with the ranking organization. If you are not a member of JA or USJA the testing fee is only $10 per rank.

As a student what do I need to do?

If you are under the age of 15 you do not need to join JA but I would encourage you to do so because I feel it is important to help support this organization. For the adults it is mandatory. As for the USJA all students will need to be registered to compete, regardless of age. Checkmate is a member of both of theses organizations and in the spirit of the Martial Arts I encourage all Students to support both of them.

What does my current rank mean and what belt do I wear if I am ranked in both in JA and USJA?

As for the students under age 15 your current rank is based on the JA system weather you are a member or not. If you want to be tested, ranked and compete in Judo tournaments you must join the USJA. For those that chose not to join either organization you will still be tested and promoted but it will not be recorded by an official organization outside Checkmate.

So what are the kids learning? Is it Jujitsu or Judo?

The smaller children are learning a combination of judo/jujitsu principles and some striking as a foundation for self defense. If they wish to compete in Judo tournament we will then coach them in the sport of Judo. As the tournament season approaches we will give you and your child the opportunity to decide if competition is something you are both interested in.

Why not teach the adult style of Jujitsu to the very little ones?

Many parts of Jujitsu are far too dangerous for young children. It requires them to have a great deal of control over their motor skills. It also requires the student to be able to guage how much force to use during a potential attack, an assessment that is difficult for most children at such a young age. Our modified system lays a great foundation for kids in terms of self defense. It gives them an alternative to striking, accelerates their motor skill development, and helps develop a fine sense of balance with regard to their own bodies as well as their opponents. All of which develop physical and mental confidence, building the foundation for future athletic activities as well as self defense.

As you or your child begins to achieve rank be careful not to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others as it pertains to your rank. Although there are certain fundamentals that everyone must grasp in order to get promoted to the next rank you are also being measured against yourself from the day you walked through my door. This is the most important factor. This is the focus of personal development and growth.

Remember……. “The difference between a white belt and a black belt is a black belt is someone who keeps showing up for class”


Leigh Rossi

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