Imi told me once that after he retired from the military in 1964 there were no formal ranking system, during the first months he taught civilians, he gave the teenagers 10 military shirts and those were their KM uniforms.
He then wanted to be considered as part of the martial arts family and the fighting sports (he was not yet sure what his path would be in the civilian sector), so he adopted the Judo uniforms and the Judo belt ranking.
He said that he succeeded in one day to dictate to a student of his the curriculum for the 6 different belts: yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black. When I started KM a decade later in 1974 the ranking and the curriculum still remained the same. In 1987 when Imi put me in charge of the grading committee, I formed a new curriculum which Imi approved. We still used the colored belts but added, subtracted and changed material which revolutionized the curriculum and added grades up to 5th degree Expert or Black Belt. During that time many of the younger instructors stopped wearing the belts while teaching and used them only for special occasions. We then transitioned into T-shirts and Judo/Karate pants.
When I started spreading KM around the world it was very apparent that the belt system was not suitable, not for KM (as a military system) and not for the progressive teaching around the world.
During the second part of the 1990’s I created, with the logistical assistance of a couple of my European students, the Practitioner, Graduate and Expert Levels Curriculum. The three Master levels remained without curriculum. Since the system was now very different from the late 1980’s, it was clear that we needed to alter and rearrange the division, progression and flow of the curriculum so a new curriculum was created. I was fortunate to have been able to go over those grades with Imi and receive his approval, about half a year before he passed away. Since then we had yet developed and changed the curriculum, so evolution is constantly occurring, but revolutions do not happen so often anymore.
Nowadays in KMG – student ranks are represented by patches (similar to military grades) that indicate their current level.
KMG also grants students relevant certification diplomas together with the patches. Our ranks are structured into five Practitioner levels, five Graduate levels and five Expert levels. Each level has a specific curriculum and requirements.
In addition, there are three Master levels (Imi granted up to grade of Master Level 3 / Expert Level 8). Specific requirements, but no curriculum, were associated with these levels.
Climbing from one grade to the next in the Practitioner and Graduate levels takes about half a year to a year of consistent training. It takes between one to four years to pass from G5 to Expert one and from an Expert level to the next.
The Governmental sectors receive a separate set of level grades. We award 3 levels of Fighter and 3 levels of Warrior diplomas upon the successful completion of our Fighter and Warrior courses. These training programs are geared toward the law enforcement, military, security, SWAT, Special and Anti-terror as well as for the VIP protection sectors.
In addition we grant different levels and kinds of Instructor diplomas for the Civilian, Military, Security, Protection and the Law Enforcement sectors. For each sector, we offer a number of different sector-specific courses. For example, in the civilian sector we offer: the General Instructors Course (GIC); the Combat and Fighting Instructors Course (CFIC); the Women Instructors Course (WIC); the Kids and Teens Instructors Course (KIC); and more.