Photo: Albert Peña / G3 Photography

Photo: Albert Peña / G3 Photography


All students learn at a different pace, depending on age, individual ability, and amount of discipline. Because SORIAN-DO teaches a requirement-based curriculum, and the requirements for each rank build on those from the one before, students must meet all requirements before moving up in rank. Therefore, there are no specific deadlines for belt testing. 

Once a student earns all three Progress Stripes, a Black Belt Instructor will evaluate them for the next rank through a pre-test. Based on the results, students are chosen to present a rank examination, or Belt Test, in front of a Testing Panel. If a single student is ready to move up in rank, a Black Belt Instructor may belt test them separately from the class.

Prior to all Belt Tests, students are required to fill out certain documentation and pay a testing fee.


School-wide Belt Tests (those that include a mix of Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Students) are held on Saturdays in lieu of regular class, and run about 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Smaller belt tests (single or small number of students in the same class) may be held during regular class during the week.


Belt Tests are headed by a Black Belt Instructor, who is often assisted by additional Instructors and/or Leadership Team Members. The exam is run in the order outlined in the Testing Agenda, which ensures students present all requirements for the next rank and includes:

  • Stances/Blocks

  • Forms/Katas

  • Punching/Kicking Combinations

  • Self-Defense Techniques

  • Board Breaking

  • Sparring


The Testing Panel is typically made up of Black Belts and school Leadership Team Members. Each member of the Testing Panel is assigned a student (or group of students) to score for the duration of the test. Students with a passing score at the end of the test will move on to the next rank. Students who perform above and beyond requirement expectations may also be nominated for Excellence Awards.  


Students with passing scores will be presented with a new rank at the end of the exam. The old belt will be removed by a member of the testing panel, and the new belt will be tied by the student's Instructor. Each student will also receive a certificate stating their new rank, as well as any patches, uniforms, or weapons they will need. Students score sheets are available for review a week after the belt test.


As students present the exam, the Testing Panel is asked to nominate candidates for Excellence Awards. These awards are presented to students who show exemplary skill in Katas, Kicking, Self-Defense, Board Breaking, and Sparring. Students nominated for Excellence Awards may be called back to present additional techniques before the panel. The student with the most votes for a specific category wins that award. 


Also considered Excellence Awards, these awards are not based on nominations from the Testing Panel. The Most Improved Student is selected by Black Belt Instructors before the day of the test, and honors an individual who has made serious personal strides in the martial arts. The Best of the Test award rightfully goes to the student who takes the majority of the Excellence Awards on exam day. Ties for Best of the Test will be broken by a final vote from the Testing Panel. 


Belt Tests are free to attend and open to all, but only students pre-selected by the Black Belt Instructors may present a rank examination. Visiting schools are also welcome to attend — Black Belts may serve on the Testing Panel, and visiting students are invited to test their sparring skills against our students.