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My daughter is six, knows her orange belt form so well the other kids (even the high oranges) often watch and follow her during form practice and has the three tips usually required to take the belt test to move to the next level. She has work to do and more to learn (as well as strength to gain) in sparring. However she was invited to take the "high orange" belt test even after only being in her orange belt for 4 weeks.

My husband and I feel she is being sped through very quickly, but would rather skip the "half belts" if possible, even if it means she is in each belt for longer and know of a few other kids that are doing the same thing. However, we have been told skipping half belts is not allowed before age seven. This makes me wonder what the over-arching policies are vs. the policies at just our own studio.

Based on what I see in this answer, it is mostly guidelines, but I wondered if things applied differently for the very young.

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The same principles should apply to the young as well - if you look at them statistically they will be pretty similar to the adults with the speed they learn. I personally would not make a rule about ages and half belts, but that's just me (there are no magical changes when you turn 7, so the rule is most likely based on tradition rather than cold hard logic).

That aside, your daughter may be extremely proficient with most of her syllabus but that is no guarantee of advancement - one is supposed to show a level of mastery of their particular level before advancing, so if she has holes in her capabilities (like you mentioned with sparring) then that could be reason to hold her back.

Remember these things:

  • progressing through the grades is not a race (against other people or against the clock)
  • progressing too fast can be detrimental (you don't progress simply by demonstrating a photographic memory of moves and forms, you must show that you understand them and can apply them)
  • progressing fast through (some) belts is no guarantee of fast progress through other belts (some people will speed through lower belts and then get stuck at higher belts which can play havoc with their motivation and self confidence)

Of course we do not know the specifics of your school, and like you said a belt factory should be avoided at all costs. It may sound harsh, but the style you attend has been taught this way for a very long time, and there should be no reason why your little girl should get special treatment to anone else following the same syllabus. Celebrate the fast advancement when it occurs, but never ever expect it.

Progressing in a steady and methodical way (even for the gifted) will make her a more well rounded and balanced martial artist with patience and discipline - without that patience and discipline she will have some major flaws in her learnings.

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Thank you for the clarifications. The reasons you mention at the bottom of your post are exactly why we are concerned. No one ever fails a test, so it seems sudden to have been given an invite for a test at all. We would rather have her not take the tests and spend more time on the skills and just take the full belt tests when she is really ready to pass because she is ready for the next level. –  balanced mama Nov 27 '12 at 18:07
    
@balancedmama Something to try in this case is to shop around (if you have other arts around). Different instructors/schools will run things differently and your daughter's skills will be at least partly transferrable (i.e. she will start from the bottom again but will pick up the new art quickly). Cross training is generally an excellent way to build out your martial skills and you'll get to sample the new crowd/environment. –  slugster Nov 27 '12 at 19:25

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