The grading system for WAKO New Zealand is designed to test the student’s ability and competency at the level he/she is attempting. This system also provides guidelines on which techniques are acceptable for different categories of the sport. For example, a spinning back fist is not allowed in Mat sports or in Full Contact, but it is allowed under K1 rules. If a club only practices one style of sport, e.g. Mat sports, the system can be adapted to suit this.

This system of grades is simply a minimum requirement and clubs are invited to add techniques as required. Additional grades/belts can also be added provided the minimum requirements are still met. All modifications must be proposed to the Chief Grading Officer and approved before use, however modifications will not be unreasonabley declined. Explanation of techniques are available on request.

The system is designed to cater for all students, including those who wish to grade but don’t compete.
Kickboxing is mainly designed for sports fighting. Therefore the grading emphasis should be on the fighting skill of the student. A high proportion of the grading should be based on the pad work and/or sparring of a student.
Students should not be compared against one another, ie: one student may have exceptionally good high kicks while another has good hand techniques and another devastating low kicks. Their personal abilities are unique to them, not to the sport or the club. Not everyone can kick head high. Therefore the grading exam should cover the entire criteria. WAKO (NZ) grades students by a score per section. There is a 50% pass mark for beginner and intermediate grades, brown and Black belt gradings require a minumum of 75% to pass.

New students should learn good protective stances, and while the different methods of stance for attack and defence should be practiced, the student should be encouraged to adapt their own preferred stance. The grading officer should then check that the student can protect themselves in their prefered stance. Students may also change their stance if they wish to use their best limb for the technique. For example, for a rear leg kick the student may have their right leg to the rear, while for a front leg kick they may switch their right leg to the front. But this doesn’t mean that instructors should not train their students in both stances.

The Black belt examination is the result of a culmination of everything learned prior and is designed to give the student a good all round knowledge of the Martial arts. The exam should prove to the grading committee that the sudent has a comprehensive knowledge of Martial Arts, and not just one style or discipline: eg: grappling, self defense, weapons, ability to fight at different ranges, lateral thinking and the development and use of combat strategies.