Black Belt Equivalency Status

Gaining Membership In Non-Graded Styles & Disciplines

Back To Entry Grades & Requirements



We’re really keen to ensure those who practice ungraded disciplines such as Mixed Martial Arts, Martial Arts Based Boxing and Muay Thai (to name but only a few) are able to gain access to our association without putting at risk the strong reputation we hold as a leading governing body.

In addition to our stated entry requirements for those who don’t hold a black belt grade, here’s a bit more guidance on each piece of criteria to help guide you along;

Minimum 4 Years Training

You are required, in all cases, to have been in training for a minimum of 4 years prior to applying for membership. This must be 4 years in the style or discipline in which you are applying to teach.

Martial Arts ‘CV’

We may ask for a martial arts CV detailing the time spent training for the last 4 years (minimum) for all persons who can’t provide solid qualifications or grades from structured styles. This allows our office to assess the clubs and disciplines trained in, and provides us with a valuable gauge of experience between training and clubs. Here’s an example on how you might lay out two separate clubs on your martial arts CV;

January 2010 – March 2014

Wentworth Combat Academy ( / 0750002483), Liverpool

Disciplines Trained: Karate & Mixed Martial Arts

Instructor: Michael Bloggs (

Spent 4 years after moving to Liverpool training with Michael Bloggs at the Wentworth Academy. Started MMA from scratch and spent 4 years training twice weekly with Michael, before moving onto the senior classes in 2013. Practiced standard mixed martial arts and had two amateur fights under the Xmen league.

April 2014 – Present

Lucton MMA (no website / 07698 575699), Merseyside

Disciplines Trained: Mixed Martial Arts

Instructor: Lucy Bloggs & Darren McTravers (

Started training under Lucy Bloggs whilst still with Wentworth Academy….

As you can see, this type of CV is invaluable for us in understanding your progression and track-record.


Instructor Testimonial (Or Vouch)

We really like to take referrals or testimonials from your instructors – past or present. It’s one of the best way’s we’re able to be sure the background explained to us is honest and accurate, and it provides an excellent source of reference too.

We understand this can be a delicate issue at times, so if you’re thinking of asking an instructor to vouch for you it’s best to speak with us first so you can be sure what we’re looking to see. In short, a letter or e-mail (if e-mailing, from an etc domain is required) stating that your lead instructor is confident and happy to recommend you for unsupervised instruction, and that he/she is happy you are competent, qualified and technically capable of instructing without supervision.

If you’re unsure or need some guidance, please get in touch. We’re happy to contact your instructor directly too if easier.

Documentation & Evidence


The more you can provide us with to help verify your credibility to instruct the better. This might include any of the following;

  • License books
  • Certificates
  • Club memberships
  • Gym receipts or subscriptions
  • Trophies or medals
  • Fight and competition records
  • Official photographs or promotional material
  • Association issued documentation

Please note that what we can accept here is to help back up your application – not to act as a sole representation. If you’re not sure if something is of value to your application please contact our office.

Video Submission

Sometimes the best way to help support an application if you can’t provide testimonials from previous instructors is to provide us with a video submission (or video snapshot) of you performing your stated discipline.

We usually request video demonstrations lasting around 10-30 minutes, showcasing techniques and technical capability. For example, if you’re hoping to be licensed for Mixed Martial Arts you may submit a 15 minutes video demonstrating;

  • Jabs, Crosses, Hooks & Uppercuts
  • Roundhouse Kicks, Straight Kicks, Back-Kicks, Side Kicks
  • Grappling & Throws
  • Elbow Combinations
  • Pad & Bag Work
  • Fitness Drills & Shadow Boxing
  • And So On

If our technical board are a little ‘on the fence’ about whether or not a lack of evidence is acceptable often demonstrating your technical abilities and working with pads or partners, to show how you might perform or teach, is all we need to help set our mind at ease.

If you think this might be the best way to demonstrate your competence, please contact our office and we can discuss the best way to proceed.


If you prefer, you can view our eligibility criteria in full via an official printed document.

Click here to view our eligibility criteria for black belt equivalencies in writing

Click here to view our general eligibility criteria in writing

You’ll be pleased to know we understand the difficulties proving teaching entitlement if you practice an ungraded style and wish to set up your club in a similar town or location to that of your previous club. We know politics get involved and some past instructors may not wish to assist. If you’re in this position, please speak to us and we’ll do our best to work through the case with you.

Questions Or Concerns About Our Eligibility Guidelines?

We’re here to help, not hinder. Any queries are answered and managed in complete confidence and we take every application on a case by case basis. If you’re genuinely a black belt (or equivalent) then you’re likely up to speed. We’ll guide you either way.
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