All gradings up to 4th Kyu will take place in the larger club settings on their training nights. The grading and training times will stay the same and will accommodate students that wish to train and those that wish to grade. Students can grade at any venue that suits them, only one grading per quarter cycle. All students need to ensure that they are at the club on time.

Students from Bedford, Stevenage & Letchworth club will need to grade at the clubs listed  

The club venues and time are as follows: 

Shortstown : Mondays 13th March, *26th June*, 25th September, 11th December 
6.30 - 7.30pm, Shortstown Village Hall, Shorts Avenue, Shortstown, Bedford, MK42 0FB

Shefford: Tuesdays 14th March, 13th June, 26th September, 12th December
6.30 - 7.30pm, Robert Bloomfield Middle School, Bloomfield Drive, Shefford, Beds 

Hitchin: Thursdays 16th March, *22nd June*, 28th September, 14th December 
6.30 - 7.30pm, Baptist Church Hall, Upper Tilehouse Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire. SG5 2EE     

The grading fee, up to and including 4th kyu is £23.50 for seniors and £21.50 for juniors.
Cheques should be made payable to A.T.S.K. 

All grading above 10th Kyu must have a current A.T.S.K. licence and an Association badge. 

Please ensure that the times and venue are correct by speaking direct to the individual club contact, in case of any changes at club level. 

Shortstown Club: Mondays  24th April & 9th October
Hitchin Club: Thursdays - 27th April & 12th October

All Brown Belt Grading applicants must register 3 months before the grading

BLACK BELT EXAM: Sunday 15th October, Robert Bloomfield Academy, Shefford, 2.30 pm

All Black Belt Grading applicants must register 6 months before the grading
Grading fees as follows:

3rd KYU JNR £24.50 / 3rd KYU SNR £27.50 --2nd KYU JNR £26.50 /2nd KYU SNR £30.50 -- 1st KYU JNR £30.50 /1st KYU SNR £34.50                                                                       
Dan grade fees can be obtained from The Chief Instructor on request. 
All Dan grade applicants need to attend regular training sessions with the Chief Instructor 


Grades denote the ranking of Karate-ka within A.T.S.K. The longer and harder a student studies, the higher the grade that can be achieved. In A.T.S.K. we mark a student's achievement by awarding a coloured belt, following a successful grading.

A.T.S.K. students mark their progress by the colour of the belt they wear. Starting as a White belt, each student advances through the colours as follows:

(Note - click on a Kyu grade to see the syllabus for the grade) 
Belt Grade
Blue 10th Kyu
Red 9th Kyu
Orange 8th Kyu
Orange + Yellow tags 7th Kyu Intermediate
Yellow 7th Kyu
Yellow + Green tags 6th Kyu Intermediate
Green 6th Kyu
Green + Purple tags 5th Kyu Intermediate
Purple 5th Kyu
Purple + White tags 4th Kyu Intermediate
Purple with a White stripe 4th Kyu
Purple with a White stripe + Brown tags 3rd Kyu Intermediate
Brown 3rd Kyu
Brown + White tags 2nd Kyu Intermediate
Brown with a White stripe 2nd Kyu
Brown with a White stripe + Red tags 1st Kyu Intermediate
Brown with a Red stripe 1st Kyu
Finally, for those that make it, the coveted Black belt Shodan
Students should be proud of the grade they hold, for the belts are not simply given away. At the same time, students must understand that simply because they hold the belt of a high grade (3rd Kyu and above), this does not make them superior to those with a lower grade belt. It is simply an indication that they have been studying the art for a little longer. High grades should help and assist the lower grades whenever they can - after all, were they not helped themselves by high-grades, when they were just beginners?

Purpose of Gradings

Belts are awarded at gradings, these are held several times a year. In general it takes roughly three months to move from one belt to the next, up until Brown belt. Brown (3rd Kyu) to Brown & White (2nd Kyu) takes six months, and a further six months must go by before they can achieve Brown & Red (1st Kyu). A full year must pass before a student becomes eligible to grade for the Black belt. However, it is very important to understand three things:

  • The time between gradings is a minimum - many students take longer to prepare.
  • No student is expected to grade every time - students progress no faster than they feel is comfortable.
  • No student should expect to grade every time - grading is at the discretion of the Sensei, who will assess a students readiness.
The student will only be entered into the grading exam if their instructor feels that they are at a good enough standard to pass the grading, although passing cannot be guaranteed.

What Happens?

So, what happens at a grading?

First of all you find yourself in a large room, quite often in a school, or a leisure centre, with scores of other students from clubs all over the ATSK region. After registering, all students gather for a quick warm-up, usually taken by one of the senior Kyu grades. Next you split up into grades (all blue-belts together, for example), and receive an hour's personal instruction from a black-belt instructor. Then there's a short recess, and the grading itself begins.
Basically, you are asked to demonstrate skills, in front of a panel of judges, in three areas:

  • Basics
  • Kumite
  • Kata
Basics is just that. Remember all the punching and blocking you've done, up and down the Dojo floor, over and over again? That's all there is to it. You will be asked to perform different techniques (for example, downward block, stepping punch, upper-rising block) a number of times in front of the judges.

Kumite is where you show your ability to perform formal attacks and defences against an opponent. Once again, you've done this many times in the Dojo, paired up with a partner.

Kata. Here you demonstrate the Kata (or Form) you've been practicing. For your very first grading this is the first 8 moves of Taikyoku Shodan.

And that's all there is to it! Afterwards, you are presented with certificates of achievement from a senior grade, and then it's time to relax and enjoy the feeling you get from having completed an ATSK grading.

Don't Be Nervous!

No student EVER fails a grading for not being able to complete a certain technique, or for being nervous, or tripping of their feet during a Kata. The main ingredient to a successful grading is always going to be SPIRIT. The student who finds it desperately hard to perform a turn in Taikyoku Shodan, for instance, but who tries hard all the time, and does their best, will have a good grading - even if they get it wrong on the day. Effort is the watchword here, and a loud "KIAI!" will win over a judge every time!

ATSK Grading Syllabus

Click on the below grades to find out more details about each rank:

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