This is actually part of my issue with CKD. You don't say "I will be testing for my black belt this summer"; instead you say "(I) will be getting my black belt this summer". Let's assume that you have been training for a total of 4 years at that time (i.e. 5 less the year out). You indicate that you're still catching back up with yourself due to the year out, so let's assume that has an effect of 6 months. That puts you down to 3.5 years of training. Later on you indicate that a large proportion of your initial training was from a poor instructor and you're having to relearn a lot of your basics as a consequence. With all this taken into account, your test for black belt should be far from a foregone conclusion, indeed in an art taking its standards seriously you probably wouldn't test for black belt anywhere near this soon, let alone be confident of passing. This is exactly the sort of problem that CKD is well-known for. There are high-graded senior instructors who don't actually teach very well, but the standards for passing gradings seem so low that these issues can't be identified by, say, the grading metrics for that instructor's students. In my own style, if one instructor has a much higher candidate failure rate for particular gradings, it's easy to figure out what isn't being taught well and to incorporate that into instructor training sessions at some point in future. Proper testing is very useful in this manner, as it makes it obvious when there are flaws in either the candidate's attitude to training or the instructor's ability to teach. The apparent desire not to fail anyone for a CKD grading is highly detrimental to the style's quality control. It's good that you found a good instructor, but in reality the association itself should be ensuring that poor instructors don't get to run large classes and represent the style . Not really. The best review might have been one where I went to several classes at random to see how things differed from instructor to instructor, but ultimately a style is only as good as the worst teacher representing that style, therefore it's still a very fair review to simply go to my closest class. That is, after all, what a typical starting student would do, and there's no way a starting student would be able to tell the difference between good and bad training. Yes. You shouldn't have to travel to several different teams as a beginner to learn the basic rules of football and how to kick a ball accurately to someone else, control, dribble, shoot, tackle, etc. You'll then learn how to play in cooperation with your team-mates to defend or attack. If your team doesn't practice those skills very well, it will become clear in the very first match against another team. This would be a good analogy for a well-structured grading - shortcomings should be easily highlighted where testing is actually a pressured event rather than a foregone conclusion. The problem is that those of us posting on this thread have never seen any good demonstrations of CKD. What we see are people who have learnt a specific set of movements and can perform them gracefully, then they can hit a shield quite hard (usually - some high grade CKD instructors should be embarrassed at how little power they can generate). Most cannot show decent realistic self defence skills in a pressure test and often show a dreadful lack of awareness when, for example, demonstrating defences against common weapon attacks (I did a review of a CKD 3rd dan grading a while back where the attacking and defending for both stick and knife attacks was so unrealistic that it would have been comical if this wasn't something being taught as part of the "ultimate self defence martial art"). Top CKD instructors need to take a very long look at what they are doing and claiming, because these are worlds apart. Which is a problem when you have 18 before first dan, another test for black belt then another 9 before second dan, etc. All of which are essentially meaningless because of the incredibly low failure rate. An expensive grading isn't too bad if you're only testing once or twice a year, but when the expectation is for one grading every 2 months, the costs rack up enormously. The class costs are not unreasonable in comparison to many other arts, but the other costs add up quickly. Courses, gradings, uniform changes, etc. This is exactly my problem here. The gradings are more or less mandatory if you want to proceed with the art, but are utterly meaningless as a test of your skill. As a result, it's possible to obtain a high recognition of skill that isn't really there - this will inevitably lead to instructors who don't know what they're doing, which worsens the cycle of instruction further. The problem I have with this is that techniques learnt and practised under a form of stress or exhaustion are much more likely to be useful if ever needed. If you never stress during training, you are very unlikely to respond properly in a high-stress environment like actually defending yourself. This is not the standard definition of circular in martial arts. At its most basic, this is defined by whether you stay on the line the joins you and your opponent (i.e. stepping forwards and backwards predominantly) or whether you step off the line for most techniques (often using diagonal stepping to evade and close distance). CKD is predominently the former, not the latter, therefore it is a linear art. I won't argue that the movements themselves often make sense, but they're not taught in an optimal fashion for promote good self defence skills. I don't think anyone ever truly masters an art or the techniques within the art - there's always some way to get a bit more efficiency out of techniques. The best way to practice your blocking though is to get a training partner to actually try to hit you in the face and to work on how to deal with this threat in the most optimum manner. CKD seems to approach this with a different mentality for the most part because of their non-contact approach, therefore it's necessary to go "off-piste" to develop your techniques faster. I disagree. If might be useful for the first five minutes or so when white belts are first observing how someone moves when punching, but immediately after that they should be dealing with an element of contact. I don't mean that they should be spitting away teeth and blood if they mess up, but the blocks should be against slow moving attacks actually targeting their face, that way they can properly start to gain an appreciation for what the movements are supposed to achieve. I really dislike the shifting back of blocks as well. Putting your balance back when an opponent is punching gives them an opportunity to charge you down, which would be very difficult to avoid or counter if your weight is back. The footwork thing would be better taught by starting inside punching range and getting them to practice moving safely outside threat range. This is of course extremely difficult, as an opponent can always come forward faster than you can go backwards, therefore this might encourage more thoughts on how best to disengage with an aggressor. My white belts do drills at punching range where they are blocking properly from day one. To date I haven't have a single student actually get hit during their initial sessions - this changes as people go up the grades because being hit is the single best way to learn what's wrong with blocks. We've never had a really bad hit during a drill though - sparring is another matter entirely, but that's optional. Fair enough. Learning to block and counter is best done by learning to block and counter an attack. A pattern should be used (if at all) to teach more esoteric aspects of training, such as good posture, balance, transitional movements, awareness, etc. There's really no need for a pattern comprising two techniques (i.e. a single block and counter attack), this should just be a basic technique learned with a partner. I have one question for you - given what you have said about testings and training, etc, what do you think your black belt will actually mean when you receive it? This isn't intended to be a rude question, but I genuinely fail to see how a grading system where almost no-one fails can possibly have any meaning to anyone.