The AWCF has been developing its own grading system, which member schools and practitioners are welcome to participate in (however it is not mandatory).
An AWCF Level 1 is a rough equivalent to a black belt in other martial arts. It represents a transition from a beginner to a practicing exponent in terms of understanding and applied skill. It doesn’t represent a level of fitness or amount of time spent. It is common that a new Level will take no less than 3 years, and more often 5-7 years to achieve. This varies, and depends on the understanding and applicable skill achieved by the student, not fitness nor time spent.
An AWCF Level 1 grade indicates that a student has attained a significant level of understanding of the Siu Nim Tau form and can apply it fluently.
An AWCF Level 1 grade indicates that the student is capable of being more autonomous in their own training and have developed an understanding of the nature of the art and their journey ahead.
Getting to Level 1
Member schools are free to implement their own beginner’s grading system below Level 1. This is often achieved with grades, patches, or coloured sashes. We recommend talking among the community for excellent examples.
Beginner grading systems should motivate the student to develop the core features of Siu Nim Tau (form, maintaining stance, not pushing, symmetry, mental state), simple fighting skills (stepping, pivoting, straight striking and low kicks), and should progress until those skills are obvious or fluent in single and double handed chi sau and eventually sparring.
A beginner grading system should be flexible enough to allow for some variations in success depending on the student’s strengths, but ensure a challenging and enduring journey which ultimately arrives at a Level 1 examination with AWCF.
A simple example is given here using a tierd patch system. These yellow patches reflect the red and silver designs of the patches of the AWCF grading system (members can purchase yellow patches from the AWCF shop).
Beyond Level 1
Each Level above Level 1 reflects one of the six forms of Wing Chun. Each form is dependent on having achieved the fundamental features of the previous forms, and is expected to take a similar if not greater commitment to achieve.
Level 1: Siu Nim Tau (Little Idea)
Level 2: Chum Kiu (Detecting the Bridge)
Level 3: Biu Jee (Darting Fingers)
Level 4: Mook Yan Jong (The Dummy)
Level 5: Bart Jarm Do (Eight Cutting Knives)
Level 6: Lok Dim Boon Gwan (Long Pole)
A level 6 grade recognises an initial completion of the entire system, and represents a great and rare achievement. The corresponding patch is silver instead of red. It is very likely that there is still much room for progress after Level 6 and there are further levels in theory. In practice, such individuals are among the most senior of the community, pursue Wing Chun in individualistic ways, and are difficult to grade in any practical sense.
How to be graded
To be eligible to be recognised at a any given level a practitioner must have not graded within the last 3 years. They must have initially satisfied their own school’s requirements for that grade. The school/instructor should then approach the AWCF committee to nominate the student for an examination. The examination itself consists of a written exam and a physical exam, usually carried out by committee of senior community members. Written exams, provided by the AWCF, will be critiqued by nominated senior community members and often involve feedback and amendments. Typically, the physical examinations are carried out at the annual conference or during visits to or from senior community members. Physical exams usually involves a form study, pressure testing, and other testing by an examiner.
Examiners of both written and physical exams are appointed exclusively by the AWCF in each case, and are typically more senior or of a higher grade than the applicant is attempting. The goal of using examiners from the community outside the applicant’s school is to ensure a minimum standard across the community (not a stringent one). The AWCF will provide training on this grading system and examining at conferences to allow the development of understanding of the requirements of for each grade, and their relationship to the forms.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding the grading system.