Lil Ninjas

RDA Hapkido Grading System and Process: Lil Ninjas and Kids Programs

Always striving for progression and making sure that instructions and services benefit our young practitioners, we have recently upgraded our Kids Hapkido syllabus and have introduced graduation for our youngest Hapkido cubs. 

This post will provide insight into the grading systems for both Lil Ninjas and Kids Hapkido Programs. Additionally, answer frequently asked questions regarding grading. We hope reading through this will provide clarity, should you have more questions, please speak with our gym manager, Rod. This post covers: 

RDA’s Hapkido Tip Testing and Grading Process

Tip Testing

Tip testing and grading is a process by which instructors are able to evaluate skills and progress. The process below describes the process implemented in the Lil Ninjas and Kids Hapkido programs. 

Tip testing occurs monthly whilst grading is scheduled quarterly. The syllabus for each belt level is divided into three components, which means that there are clear objectives that each student is working towards. The total number of black tips a student will earn is three. The tips serve a number of purposes such as: 

  • Visual record of components the student has completed- meaning that they have been taught and achieve baseline proficiency in each component
  • It allows students to feel accomplished
  • It allows instructors to identify students who should be ready for grading

It is paramount to understand that after earning their tips, students will still need to practice each skill, with the purpose of:

  • Performing good quality technique repeatedly
  • Increasing accuracy of movement
  • Increasing explosiveness and speed
  • Increasing overall technique/ skill complexity

These aspects will be guided by their instructors. 

Tip testing for the Kids program occurs through the last week of the month. The students will be assessed on the objectives of that month, when they have demonstrated baseline proficiency, they will be awarded a tip. Similarly, the students of the Lil Ninjas Program will also be assessed, however their tip testing will occur in the first week of the succeeding month. 

Baseline proficiency means that students can demonstrate understanding of the components of each skill. Students demonstrate this by:

  • Identifying the steps of the technique or skill
  • Noting key points for each step
  • Performing the technique with minimal guidance from their instructor
  • Where appropriate, explain why the technique is effective (compulsory for Brown belt and higher)

Grading - Kids Hapkido Program

At RDA, grading is a formal process during which students from all belt levels demonstrate their skill and technique acquisition and earn a new belt. For the Kids program, grading is usually held on a Saturday and it is an opportunity for them to showcase the skills that they have learnt to Head Instructor Darryl Harris. 

Students’ performances are continually observed by their instructors and guidance is always provided to support their learning and practice. Approximately three weeks prior to the scheduled grading, registration for grading opens and grading forms will be provided to instructors to distribute to students who are ready for grading. Students’ readiness is assessed independently to the number of tips previously awarded. When a student is deemed ready for grading, a grading form will be provided to them.

Grading forms and fees of $50 will need to be handed in by the Monday prior to grading week; this allows time for us to prepare the appropriate belts and certificates for each student. 

Kids Hapkido Grading Process

Grading - Lil Ninjas Hapkido Program

Grading for the Lil NInjas program occurs a little differently to the Kids Hapkido program. Firstly, grading will occur in class. Quarterly, during the first week of the month, grading will take place concurrently with tip testing. Although less formal, it is still an important process for our younger students as it supports them to build confidence as they demonstrate the skills that they have been practicing. 

For the Lil Ninjas Program, instructors will be relying on the number of tips to recommend students for grading. When a Lil Ninja achieves 3 black tips, instructors will provide the student a grading form. Parents should hand in the form and fees (grading fee: $30) no later than the week before grading, to allow for enough time to prepare certificates and appropriate belts. At the next tip testing, instead of receiving a new tip, the student will receive their new belt and certificate. 

Lil Ninjas Hapkido Grading Process

Updated Kids Hapkido Syllabus

Progression, not perfection. There is always something to improve and that is what we are doing here at RDA. Across all our Hapkido programs, Lil Ninjas through to Adults, we are always looking at better ways to support our students to immerse into the martial arts form. As such, updating the Kids Hapkido Syllabus is no different. We’ve already done a soft roll out of the new syllabus which will be fully implemented in the new year. The belt system as pictured below remains the same.

Kids Hapkido Belt System

Changes to expect in 2022 are as follows:

  • Each belt syllabus to be segmented into three clear components
  • More core technique focus- including preparatory work
  • More examples of contemporary applications

Brand New Lil Ninjas Syllabus

In the effort to ensure that our younger students can progress fluidly into the Kids Hapkido program. The entirety of the Lil Ninja’s syllabus equates to a Kid’s Yellow Belt, progressed over 24 months. The purpose of this is to support our young cubs to develop fundamental movement patterns and skills that will set them up for success further into their martial arts journey. At the time of writing, we have done a soft roll out of the new syllabus. In the new year, Lil Ninjas program will be fully implemented. Please find pictured below, the belt system for the Lil Ninjas program:

Lil Ninjas Belt System

Should a Lil Ninja progress through the entire program, they will earn eight belts in total, as shown in the image below. Please note that Lil Ninja students are able to progress into the Kids program before they earn their white-black belt (Equivalent to kids yellow belt). This can be due to a number of reasons including: 

  • Coming of age (the student is turning 6)
  • Physical maturation
  • Technical proficiency

When the student is ready to move up to the Kids Hapkido class, a discussion amongst parents, instructor and the student will take place and a transition plan will be agreed upon. 

Lifelong Learning

In order to develop technical proficiency and the life skills associated with martial arts training, repetition is required for mastery. Therefore, we recommend that students train at least twice per week, three times per week is ideal. If a student attends once a week, progress can still be made albeit over a longer period of time. 

As a student progresses the amount of techniques and skill complexity increases, it is normal for students to have longer periods between gradings. For example, students at the red belt level may spend eight to 12 months before grading for Dan Bo (Black-red). Learning is highly individual and it is why we developed the grading process to ensure that students are putting their best foot forward and are set up for success at their next belt level. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Hapkido Tip Testing and Grading

Tip testing and grading is a process by which instructors are able to evaluate skills and progress. Tip testing occurs monthly (Kids Hapkido- last week of the month, Lil Ninjas Hapkido- first week of the month).

Short answer- No. However, the tips serve a number of purposes such as: 

  • Visual record of components the student has completed- meaning that they have been taught and achieve baseline proficiency in each component
  • It allows students to feel accomplished
  • It allows instructors to identify students who should be ready for grading

Additionally, having all three tips demonstrates that the student is highly likely to be regular in their training and instructors can reasonably assume that quality repetition of the skill has been completed by the student. 

Baseline proficiency means that students can demonstrate understanding of the components of each skill. Students demonstrate this by:

  • Identifying the steps of the technique or skill
  • Noting key points for each step
  • Performing the technique with minimal guidance from their instructor
  • Where appropriate, explain why the technique is effective (compulsory for Brown belt and higher)

Grading is a formal process during which students from all belt levels demonstrate their skill and technique acquisition and earn a new belt. For the Kids program, grading is usually held on a Saturday and it is an opportunity for them to showcase the skills that they have learnt to Head Instructor Darryl Harris. For Lil Ninjas, this will occur in class.

The investment for grading is as follows:
Kids Hapkido- $50
Lil Ninjas Hapkido- $30

Your child doesn’t need to attend every grading, however in order to graduate to the next belt, they will need to attend grading. Please note that when a student progresses to higher belts, the time between grading can increase, this is due to the amount of skill and increased complexity in the techniques the student needs to master.

Your child should attend classes as consistently as possible. Although we recommend 3 times per week as the ideal, this may not work with your family’s commitments. Most of our regular students attend 2 times per week. We stress that a weekly commitment is required to ensure students are learning the techniques relevant to their belt level and have access to guidance and support from the instructors. Additionally, consider the qualities that students develop as well: 

  • Self Discipline
  • Respect
  • Patience
  • Focus
  • Resilience 
  • Confidence
  • Self Control

These qualities do not develop overnight but the more time spent, and consistently, practicing and training, the opportunities to develop and instill these qualities increases. Progress is most definitely possible for students who train once a week, however, this progress is expected to occur at a slower pace. 

Should you have any questions or need guidance regarding tip testing and grading, please speak with our gym manager, Rod. Questions regarding syllabus and your child’s progress can be directed to your child’s belt instructor.
We hope that this guide to Kids Hapkido and Lil Ninjas Hapkido tip testing and grading was helpful, as always, if you have any questions, please speak with Rod.

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