What You Need To Know

Exams Are Key to Achieving Success

Student exams are an essential element of any acquired skill. Much like climbing a ladder, rank promotions are designed to help students prove to themselves and their peers that they have the knowledge and skills to move on to the next level.

Periodic exams are held aproximately every 3 months and apply the necessary pressure to encourage students to reach their goals within a reasonable timeframe. They help instructors to get a feel for where a student might need some particular attention, while also helping Focus Martial Arts to improve its program based on how we see our students perform. Testing also teaches key life skills for empowering our students to develop the ability to perform in front of others.

Focus Martial Arts & Fitness is a black belt school that teaches more then kicking and punching. The goal, of course, is to help each student achieve black belt through a series of successful rank promotions. To break it down even further, rank promotions are achieved by successfully completing a series of stripe tests (held every 3 months during regularly scheduled classes at no charge). This will also keep our students motivated and moving forward with regular feedback from our instructors.

Stripe tests can best be compared to the ongoing exams students take in any semester course in school. Every three months, students take a stripe test during their regularly scheduled classes based on the information covered during that time frame. Once the students receive their “Red Stripe”, they will receive an invitation to take their “final” testing and advancement to the next level.

Good attendance plays a crucial role in each student’s successful step up the ladder toward black belt. Stripes tests must be taken during the week scheduled, if by chance they miss a stripe test, they may make it during any other appropriate class during the week of stripe testing.  If they miss these options they must wait until the next stripe test (approximately 3 months later) to make it up.

Many students and their parents approach exams and tests with relative apprehension. This is where a positive attitude can really prove beneficial. If a black belt is what you really want, then you must prepare for your exams to the best of your ability.  Rank promotions will also teach each student the life skill of performance in front of a larger group of parents and peers teaching them important leadership skills in the process.

Study and practice until you know your stuff. You’ll have the confidence to tackle exams head on, and before you know it, you’ll have earned the right to wear the Focus Martial Arts black belt. A rank you can take into any dojo in the world and they will know you are a black belt.

Stay Focused, train Hard, and earn that Black belt!

top top

Stripe Testing Procedures

  1. Stripe Testing is done every 3 months in all Karate classes over a one week period, followed by the
    Belt Test two weeks later.

  2. During the Stripe Testing week, students may stripe test only once in any appropriate age and rank Karate class. If students attend classes more than one time a week, you may use one of your classes as
    a practice for Stripe Testing. Please let your instructor know your intentions at the beginning of class.
  3. Each Stripe Test will result in the students receiving either one Black Stripe, which means they still
    need to improve towards their next rank, or a Red Stripe, which means the students are ready to be
    tested towards their next rank. Each student can receive at most 3 Black Stripes before receiving their
    Red Stripe.
  4. Higher ranks need more time to practice in order to execute the requirements at a higher level. Knowing
    the Kata is not the same as doing the Kata. Each rank is different and the higher your rank the greater
    the expectations.
  5. Testing requirements for students testing for Low Purple Belt thru 1st Black Belt:
    All the students testing at these levels will need to earn a minimum of one Black Stripe before they will even be considered for their Red Stripe. This will allow our Focus students to put a little more time into each rank. The results will be higher caliber Karate students who have more discipline in their training, and are able to demonstrate stronger Karate techniques.
  6. Testing requirements for students testing for ranks above Shodan (1st Black Belt):
    At these high levels the expectations are also very high and moving to the next rank will take a longer
    time and a lot of hard work. All students at these levels will be required to earn 3 Black Stripes before
    achieving the Red Stripe and getting invited to the Belt Test. They will only be awarded one stripe at each Stripe Test.

top top

Belt Testing Procedures

  • Rank Promotions will be provided to all students who have earned their “Red Stripe” and will typically be held two weeks following stripe testing on a Saturday (See our 'Events' page for details and test dates). If you can not attend the times scheduled then we also have an alternative during the same day and you can attend either the Lake In The Hills (Afternoons) or the Deerfield (Mornings) Rank Promotion.
  • Rank Promotions are important for the student’s development and teach key life skills that will help them develop into leaders. With this in mind it is important that each student be present for the rank promotion which will be held every four months for all ranks. 
  • In certain situations that are out of the control of the students, we will occasionally allow a student to make up an exam following the regularly scheduled Exam. Situations that are catastrophic or situations that warrant special attention. In these cases, Focus must be informed of your situation as soon as you are aware of them. Calls must be received by the test date for make ups to be considered. Situations which will not be considered are choices to attend parties, social outings, sporting events, recitals, vacations etc.
  • Uncontrollable and approved circumstances may warrant a make up exam which, if approved, will need to be set up with the appropriate instructor after the test has been completed. The higher the students rank, the more important the rank promotion will be so students who are blue belt and higher will typically have to wait until the next promotion to be tested unless pre-approved by the instructor as outlined above. 
  • Students not showing up for their scheduled promotion will need to wait until the next scheduled promotion to test unless approved by their instructor
  • Approved make up exams may be subject to an additional private lesson fee with the appropriate instructor.

top top

Sparring Equipment Requirements by Rank Level

Kumite/sparring is a very important part of the martial arts experience and it is our opinion that in order to truly understand peace, you must be confident in your ability to defend yourself. Those children and adults who have the highest confidence levels are not only more likely to be leaders; they are also less likely to use aggressive behaviors to lead.  Kumite therefore is an integral part of our training and certain procedures/steps in becoming proficient in sparring.

Just as a white belt is not expected to know much about what is required of them when they begin karate then so is the martial artist who is first learning to spar. Sparring is a process that is not learned in a day but in the journey of many years. Below are the basic equipment requirements for each level of training and the reason the equipment is needed at each level. Of course you may purchase all the equipment at any level if you want to begin kumite/sparring sooner rather than later. For safety reasons, any athlete who does not have the proper equipment for their rank level will only be allowed to participate at the level they are equipped for.  Thank you for being part of the Focus Family, we are making America stronger one athlete at a time!




White Belt
White Belt/Orange Stripe
Orange Belt/White Stripe
Orange Belt     
Yellow Belt/White Stripe

White Karate Uniform
Fist Guards

 This level will use this equipment for hitting
 pads, bags and getting used to the equipment.

Yellow Belt
Blue Belt/White Stripe

The above equipment
Mouth Guard
Groin Cup (male)

 This level will also use their equipment for
 specific partner drills (no free sparring will be

Blue Belt
Green Belt/White Stripe

The above equipment
Shin Guards
Chest Protector

 This equipment will be used for controlled free
 sparing with no head attacks or head contact.

Green Belt & Higher

The above equipment
Sparring Helmet

 Full Gear used for free sparing

*Full gear can be purchased at anytime and must be the proper equipment and color (see your instructor for details).  It is the athlete’s responsibility to have the proper equipment available for each class.  Any student not having the proper gear will train at the appropriate level that they are equipped for or, they may have to sit out of the sparring portion of the class.

top top

Japanese Terms
( A , B , C , D , E , F , G , H , I , J , K , M , N , O , R , S , T , U , W , Y , Z )

Age Uke
– Rising Block
Aka – Red
Ashi – Foot
Ashikubi - Ankle
Ashi Barai – Leg Sweep
Ate – Strike
Awase – Combined

top top
Bassai – To Penetrate a Fortress, or To Storm a Castle (Dai – major, Sho – minor)
– Martial Way
Bunkai – Application

top top
Chinte – Chinese Hands or Unusual Hands
Choku Zuki
– Straight Punch
Chudan – Middle Level

top top
Dachi – Stance
Dai – Major (as in Bassai-Dai)
Dan – Level (Degree)
Do – Way
Doji - Simultaneos
Dojo – Training Place (Place of the Way)

top top
Embusen – Line(s) of movement (in Kata)
Empi – Elbow
Empi Uchi – Elbow Strike
Enpi (or Empi) – Flying Swallow
Enoy – Spirit of getting ready

top top
Fudo Dachi – Rooted Stance
Fumikomi – Stamping kick

top top
Gamae – Withdrawing
Gankaku – Crane on a Rock
Gedan – Lower Level
Gedan Barai – Downward block
Geri – Kick
Gi – Training clothes
Gohon Kumite – 5 Attack(step) sparring
Gojushiho – Fifty-four Steps (Dai – major, Sho – minor)
Gyaku – Reverse
Gyaku Hanmi – Reverse half-facing
Gyaku Zuki/Uke – Reverse punch/block

top top
Hachiji Dachi – Natural Stance
Hai – Yes
Haishu – Back-hand
Hajime – Begin
Haisoku – Instep of foot
Haito – Ridge Hand
Haiwan – Back Arm
Hangetsu Dachi – Half Moon (or Wide Hour Glass) Stance
Hangetsu – Half Moon
Hanmi – Half Front (45 degrees, facing opponent)
Hara – Belly
Heian - Peaceful
Heian Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, Godan – Peaceful Way (The five Heian Kata’s, derived from the Kata Kanku Dai)
Heisoku Dachi – Informal Attention Stance
Hidari – Left
Hikite – Withdrawing Hand
Hikiwake – Draw (in competition)
Hiraken – Fore-knuckle fist (striking with second joint of fingers)
Hiza – Knee
Hiza Geri – Knee Kick
Hombu – Main Dojo
Hyosh - Timing

top top
Iee Iie – No
Ippon – One
Ippon Ken – One-knuckle Fist
Ippon Kumite – One Attack Sparring
Ippon Nukite – One Finger Spear Hand

top top
Ji’in – Temple Grounds, or Gardens
– From the Temple of Jion
– Ten Hands
Jiyu Dachi
– Free Stance
Jiyu Ippon Kumite – Semi-free, One-attack Sparring
Jiyu Kumite – Free Sparring
Jodan – Upper Level
Jogai – Out of bounds (in competition)
Juji Uke – X-Block

top top
Ka – Student
Kage Zuki – Hook Punch
Kaisho – Open Hand (palm)
Kaiten – Rotating
Kakato – Heel
Kakiwake Uke – Wegde Block
Kamaete – Get Ready
Kanku – Look to the Sky (Dai – major, Sho – minor)
Kara – Empty
Karate – Empty Hand
Karateka – One who practices Karate
Kata – Form, or Formal Exercise
Keage – Snap
Kekomi – Thrust
Ken – Fist
Kensei – Technique carried out with silent kiai
Keri – Kick (‘geri’ when added to another word)
Kesa Geri – Diagonal Kick
Ki – Inner Strength
Kiai – Shout
Kiba Dachi – Horse riding Stance
Kihon – Basics
Kime – Focus of Power
Kin Geri – Groin Kick
Kizami Zuki – Jabbing Punch
Kohai – Junior (to oneself)
Kokutsu Dachi – Back Stance
Kosa – Crossing
Kosa Dachi – Cross leg stance
Koshi – Ball of the Foot
Kumade – Bear hand
Kumite – Sparring
Kyu – Grade, or Student

top top
Ma-ai – Distance
Mae – Front
Mae Geri – Front Kick
Makiwara – Striking Post
Mawashi Geri – Roundhouse Kick
Mawate – Turn
Meikyo – Mirror of the Soul, or Bright Mirror
Migi – Right
Mika Zuki Geri – Crescent Kick
Mokuso – Meditation
Morote – Augmented
Morote Uke – Augmented Block
Moto Dachi – Original Stance

top top
Nagashi Uke – Sweeping Block
Nakadaka Ippon Ken – Middle Finger One Knuckle Fist
Naore – Return to Yoi
Neko Ashi Dachi – Cat Stance
Nidan Geri – Double Kick
Nihon Nukite – Two-finger Spear Hand
Nijushiho – Twenty-four Steps
Nukite – Spear Hand

top top
Obi – Belt
Oi Zuki – Stepping Punch (lunge punch)
Osae – Pressing
Osae Uke – Pressing Block
Oss – General term, predominately meaning “Yes, I understand”, also used for “Thank-you”, or “Hello”

top top
Rei – Bow
Ren Zuki – Combination Punching
Ren Geri – Consecutive Kicks
Ryoken – Both Fists
Ryowan – Both Arms
Ryu – School

top top
Sanbon Kumite – Three Attack Sparring
Sanbon Zuki – Triple Punch
Sanchin Dachi – (Narrow) Hour Glass Stance
Sashi Ashi – Stepping Over
Seiken – Fore Fist
Seiza – Kneeling Position
Sempai – Senior
Sensei – Teacher
Shihan – Master
Shiro – White
Sho – Minor (as in Bassai-Sho)
Shushin – Referee
Shitei - Designated
Shizentai – Natural, relaxed Stance
Shobu – Competition
Shomen – Front Facing
Shuto – Knife Hand
Shuto Uke – Knife Hand Block
Socin Dachi – Immovable, Straddle-leg Stance
Socin – Preserve Peace, or Strongly Rooted
Soete – Open Palm
Sokumen – Side
Sokuto – Side of Foot
Soto Ude Uke – Outside Forearm Block
Sukui Uke – Scooping Block

top top
Tai Sabaki – Body Shifting
Taikyoku Shodan – First Cause
Tameshiwara – Test by Breaking
Tate Shuto – Vertical Knife Hand
Tate Zuki – Vertical Punch
Te – Hand
Teiji Dachi – T-Stance
Teisho – Palm Heel
Tekki – Iron Horse, or Iron Knight
Tekki Shodan, Nidan, Sandan – Iron Knight, or Iron Horse (Tekki Katas of 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels)
Tettsui – Bottom Fist
Tettsui Uchi – Bottom Fist Strike
Te Waza – Hand Techniques
Tobi – Jumping
Tokui – Favourite (of one’s own choice)
Tsukami – Grasping
Tsumasaki – Tips (of Fingers or Toes)
Tsuru Ashi Dachi – Crane Leg Stance

top top
Uchi – Strike
Uchi Ude Uke – Inside Forearm Block
Ude – Forearm
Uke – Block
Unsu – Hands of a Cloud
Ura Zuki – Close-quarter Punch
Uraken – Back Fist
Ushiro Geri – Back Kick

top top
Wa – Harmony
Wankan – Crown of a King
Waza – Technique

top top
Yama Zuki – Wide U-Punch
Yame – Stop
Yasume - Rest
Yoi – Ready
Yoko – Side
Yoko Empi – Side Elbow (Strike)
Yoko Geri – Side Kick

top top
Zanshin – Awareness
Zenkutsu Dachi – Front Stance
Zuki (or Tsuki) – Punch

top top

Focus Eyes Red (2).jpg

Inclement weather procedures:

 In case of inclement weather we will post our closings for morning classes before 6:30am and for evening  classes before 1:30pm:

  1. On our website at www.focusma.com

  2. On our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/FocusFamilyFitness
  3. On our phone message at 847-458-0938

top top

9342 Virginia Rd., Lake In The Hills, IL, 60156          Phone: 847-458-0938          Fax: 847-458-0936          Email: ContactFocusMA@gmail.com

©2002 Focus Martial Arts and Fitness, Inc.  All rights reserved.