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To-Shin Do Belt License Grading

As with many Asian martial arts traditions, a series of colored belts indicates your progress in To-Shin Do training. The yellow (earth), blue (water), red (fire), green (wind), and brown (void) belt colors represent the 5 elements of our martial art system.


You begin with a White Belt as you become oriented to our dojo and the training.  The goal of White Belt is to establish solid habits that allow you to attend class regularly.  You are building the foundation for long-standing success in your To-Shin Do practice.  Students can expect to be in this White Belt "orientation" phase for 3 to 4 months, all the while fully participating in our To-Shin Do Level 1 self-defense classes.


Once you earn your Yellow Belt, there are 5 kyu “class” grades leading to Black Belt.  Students who consistently attend at least two classes per week should progress through each colored belt in 9 to 12 months time, so it usually takes five years or more to earn 1st Degree Black Belt.


Once you enter Black Belt Master level training, there are then 10 dan “degree” levels of study


To-Shin Do belt ranks include:


White Belt

Your first belt in Level 1 Foundations of Self-Protection


Yellow Belt

Yellow Belt “Earth ground-holding element” stage in Level 1 Foundations of Self-Protection

  • “Grounded” proper use of body weight and gravity as you protect and counter

  • Assert your right to defend; do not stop or passively cover up once attack begins

  • Understand the concept of kamae – psychologically attuned body posture

  • Mind, voice, and body positioning to establish boundaries – good kamae

  • Yellow Belt successful test demonstration is effectively repositioning with 4 ground-holding postures and counters against an advancing aggressor

  • Effectively resist ever-repositioning push pressure from an aggressor

  • Deliver power from your base and core. Rotate hips and shoulders from the foundation to strike through your targets; do not just pop the surface of your target

  • Study bone alignment for effective protection and power


Blue Belt

Blue Belt “Water tactical-positioning element” stage in Level 2 Advanced Self-Protection (like grades 1-3 of Primary Elementary School)

  • Understand appropriate weapon and target – soft weapon to hard target, hard weapon to soft target; hammer, claw, or palm to head, hand edge to neck, punch to body, knee to hips and thighs, kick to shins/knees/ankles.

  • Do not strike when off-balance

  • Clearly demonstrate understanding of the 5 D’s model – Discern, Defend, Disrupt, Deliver, Discern

  • Learn to use strategic placement to access weak points your adversary leaves open

  • Bladed body position; do not square up in front of an adversary

  • Understand strategic angles and footwork – do not be forced into defensive covering position

  • Move from hara center of energy in your lower torso core, not your upper body

  • Keep your legs flexed, back upright, shoulders over hips, hands up, so that strategic footwork moves you off-line and out of reach

  • Keep your back straight with freedom of movement in your leading leg – good kamae

  • Learn to let gravity move you

  • Counter-attack using footwork, bent knees and core rotation to deliver effective strikes and takedowns


Red Belt

Red Belt “Fire intention-intercepting element” stage in Level 2 Advanced Self-Protection (like grades 4-6 of Secondary Elementary School)

  • Effective rolling skills: Lower your body as close to the ground as possible before a rolling ukemi break-fall and keep your limbs tucked in close like a ball

  • Stay connected, use pre-emptive timing to take space

  • Move with effective forward angling

  • Use gravity for natural speed

  • Understand relational speed as opposed to conventional speed

  • Align your bones to drive your strikes into their targets with effective piercing, redirecting, or stopping power

  • Move in and sit into your punch or hit, and keep your feet under you. Reaffirm critical basics of body weight and gravity


Green Belt

Green Belt “Wind effortless-capture element” stage in Level 3 Path of the Protector Martial Arts (like grades 7-9 of Middle School)

  • Move adversaries center off-balance to where he must work to regain his position

  • Understand the difference between throwing to take balance and taking balance to throw

  • Stay connected, follow adversaries when they pull away from a clinch – fill space

  • Give up position to confuse your adversary with evasive movement

  • Find and use space, and keep him from finding and using space

  • Don’t slug with a slugger – slip, evade, submerge, invade; find the space

  • Capture momentum – pull a pusher, push a puller, ride a punch, slip a kick

  • Get lower if you have to grapple a taller adversary

  • Use body positioning, body weight and gravity to break balance


Brown Belt

Brown Belt “Formless creative-integration element” stage in Level 3 Path of the Protector Martial Arts (like grades 10-12 of High School)

  • Use taisabaki (footwork and body positioning) to weaken your attacker. Don’t freeze or lock up in a clinch; sense where he is going and move with him to negate strength and advantage

  • Create the right answer at the right time

  • Do not rush blindly through your finishing moves

  • Be ready for his counter movement; no one will stand still while you defend

  • Fight with mindfulness; hands and feet strategically follow your intentions

  • Counter immediately after defense; break up predictable rhythm

  • Move fluidly and seamlessly


Black Belts

  • Two Black Belt “Practitioner” stages (degrees 1 & 2; like High School Grad, & Associate Degree)

  • Two Black-&-Bronze Belt To-shi “Senior practitioner” stages (degrees 3 & 4; like Martial Arts B.A. & M.A)

  • Two Black-&-Silver Belt To-shi “Master practitioner” stages (degrees 5 & 6; like Martial Arts Ph.D.)

  • Two Black-&-Gold Belt To-shi “Senior master” stages (degrees 7 & 8; like Martial Arts Professor)

  • Two Bronze-Maroon Belt To-shi Mei-jin “Grandmaster” stages (degrees 9 & 10; like Martial Arts Dean”)

  • Silver Belt “An-shu’s Hombu Councilor” stage (“Martial Arts Board of Regents”)

  • Gold Belt An-shu “Headmaster” stage (“Martial Arts Chancellor”)

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