Black Belt School of Excellence
Established 1994

Sport for Education : 'Black Belt' Qualification.

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Neil Holden


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Head Coach :
Neil Holden

Trainer of
Muay-Thai, Kickboxing
and -M.M.A. Champions

Certified Muaythai
( Thai-Kickboxing )
by Grand-Master Sken
( Thailand )

Black Belt Graded
by Master Azuma
( Japan )

W.K.A. Registered
7th Dan Black Belt

Training in the Martial Arts
+ 40 years.

Professional Instructor
+ 30 Years.


SPORT FOR EDUCATION ( Qualification ) : Would you like to become a 'Personal-Trainer', a 'Group-Class Instructor' or even one day Own your own Martial Arts Academy?

Either as an additional qualification to compliment your current job, or for a total career change, a 'Degree in Kickboxing' could open these opportunities for you.

For further information about gaining your 1st Degree Black Belt, with Warrington Kickboxing, read through the contents of this webpage.

The following explains the belt colour system at Warrington Kickboxing, that starts at White Belt.

After the White Belt there is then a Coloured Belt, which is then followed by 'Advanced' Coloured Belt.

'Advanced' Coloured Belt Grades have a Black Stripe through them.

The system therefore is as follows,

Yellow Belt... then... Advanced-Yellow-Belt.

Green Belt... then... Advanced-Green Belt,

Blue Belt... then... Advanced-Blue Belt,

Brown Belt... then... Advanced-Brown Belt.

Most people excel with their Martial Arts training when they have a training goal.

Should passing your Black Belt be a personal training goal, then our aim is to help you get to...

Blue Belt by Year 1.


Brown Belt by Year 2.


Black Belt by year 3.

Our Black Belt training program, is a 3 year course, upon completing you will become a registered 1st Degree Black Belt.


Almost 100 years ago Jigaro Kano, a Japanese Instructor of Judo invented the system of using 'coloured belts' to show the level, ( Rank ), of a student as they progressed during their martial arts training.

This proved to be a very practical method of showing a students progress and was later adopted by many other Martial Art Styles.

Using the colour of a belt to show rank was a practical idea that came about as a method of showing that a student has a certain level of experience and is at a certain skill level.

Today the coveted BLACK BELT is a world recognised Martial Arts qualification in many different styles such as Judo, Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Taekwondo, Krav-Maga and Kickboxing.

A great training goal to aim for, and an outstanding achievement to accomplish.


The Wolf-Gym conducts six Pressure-Testing days ( Gradings ), each year for Adults.

For those eligable, these Belt Gradings are held in February, April, June, August, October and December.

During these examinations students demonstrate their Technique, Sparring skills, Fitness levels, and Knowledge, ( with written tests ), to a pre-set level according to each specific rank. This then gets increasingly harder as the grades are progressed through.

Regular Pressure-Testing, help to vastly improve a students skills, knowledge and confidence as well as highlighting any areas requiring specific improvement. Fitness levels, Strength & Flexibilty are required to improve at each level also.

Gradings are very important part of training at the Wolf-Gym, as they help to keep alive the traditional Martial-Arts techniques that are the foundation of the modern day Combat-Sport, something that should be preserved and respected.

Many clubs do not do any Gradings at all, and merely focus on Kickboxing as a Combat-Sport, and only the specific techniques that you can perform under a set of rules in the Ring or the Cage.

A Grading Syllabus is a book of knowledge, and should contain all of the traditional, as well as the most up to date, techniques and training methods, and indeed the Wolf-Gym's syllabus is subject to continual-professional-development ( C-P-D ), reviewed and updated every 6 months.

'Muay-Boran' is the collective name for the traditional martial art systems of Thailand, that lead to the development of the combat sport known worldwide as Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai ).
There are various styles of Muay-Boran. The Wolf-Gym's syllabus uses traditional techniques from the 'Ling-Lom' style of Muay-Boran, as taught to Neil Holden for Self-Defence skills, by his teacher Grand-Master Sken.

Ling-Lom has great emphasis on speed, especially swift kicks and jumping techniques and also switch hitting, ( striking from both the left lead stance and also the right lead stance ). As you progress through the Wolf-Gym's Grading syllabus, you will learn many traditional Martial-Art techniques such as the jumping kicks, spinning kicks, flying punches, jumping knees, & flying elbows.

Traditional Martial-Arts techniques were originally developed for the battlefield, but can be very applicable to a modern day Self-Defence situation, which is why they are an intricate part of the Wolf Gym's Grading Syllabus.

One particular traditional Martial-Arts technique, used extensively by Kickboxers who are competing in the Cage, ( MMA-Strikers ), is the Jumping-Knee. This is used to stop an opponent who is trying to take them to the ground via a Wrestling ( or Rugby ) tackle. A traditional technique, yet a highly effective strike in the most world's modern combat-arena, the Octagon.


Bram-Arjarn ( Grand-Master ) Sken,

Neil Holden's teacher
, a Muay-Boran and Muay-Thai Grand-Master,
wearing the traditional Muay-Boran uniform.

For details of Muay-Boran Grades

Click Here


As you progress through the coloured ranks, you will learn all aspects of Kickboxing as both a Martial Art system, ( for Self-Defence ), and as a Combat Sport, ( for Competition ).

The Wolf-Gym's syllabus covers five areas.

Combat-Kickboxing ( Striking skills applied for Self-Defence ),

the Ring-Sports of........

..... Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 Rules ),

..... Dutch-Kickboxing ( GLORY Rules )

..... Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai Rules )

as well Mixed-Martial-Arts, via

Cage-Kickboxing ( Kickboxing-Modified-for-the-Cage / M.M.A. Striking ).

Across all the martial arts systems, no matter the style studied, the students that take regular Pressure-Tests, ( Grading Assesments ), are always much more skilled than those who do not!

Most members upon starting at Warrington Kickboxing, never intend to Grade, or to compete.

Only to find that having a training goal, such as the Wolf-Gym's Black belt programme helps them progress much quicker than they would do otherwise.


Grant Sharples, one of our M.M.A. Champions, is the most recent edition to the Black Belt ranks at the Wolf-Gym.

Pictured with his Certificate, Black Belt, Samurai Trophy and his M.M.A. Championship Title Belt



A Small fee is charged when Students Pressure-Test for their Belt Grade, with the exception of the Black Belt grade - which is £FREE!.

No Instructor benefits financially from the Gradings, as any money raised from the assessments is spent specifically on the Studio's facilities.

This ensures that the Academy always has the highest standard of equipment for its Team.



Some Martial Arts Centres quickly grade students to Black Belt simply, for the financial gain - as it is very common for Black Belt tests to cost upwards of £300.00 per Black belt exam.

This does not happen at the Wolf-Gym, as we do not, and have never charged any fee for the Black Belt exam.

Additionally, a member of Warrington Kickboxing will only be invited to take their Black Belt test once they are actually ready, and not for any financial gain.

This ensures the intergrity of the Academy, and the integrity of the Grading Syllabus and guarentees the high standards of the Black Belts that are certified by the Wolf-Gym.




Warrington Kickboxer, Bradley Hodgkinson, a W.K.A. Junior Kickboxing Champion and holder of the 'Junior' Black Belt.

Children on our Primary-School Kids program, ( aged 6 to 11 ) are promoted through their Junior Belt Grades via an awards system.

However when they progress from the Primary-School Kids program and move onto the High-School-Classes, ( ages 11 to 16 ), they then begin following the Belt test syllabus, from White Belt.

Members on the Primary-School Kids program, are referred to as Juniors.

Members on the High-School Kids program, are referred to as Cadets.


Wolf-Gym / Warrington Kickboxing does not advertise children as if they were Adult level Black Belts, and always states that they are 'Junior Black Belts'.

Any Martial Arts Academy that advertises Junior Black Belts as being equivilent to Adult Black Belts cannot have a reputable syllabus and should be avoided.


In many Martial Art Academies, a
RED BAND is the Insignia used to denote the rank of _ 'INSTRUCTOR'.

This system is also used by the Wolf Gym, with the Instructor Insignia,
RED BAND ), displayed across one end of the Instructors Black Belt.

The Red Bands on the Black Belt, are also known as Dan Bars.

The Instructor Ranks ( Degree's ) system then follows that...

A Level One Instructor, has '1' RED BAND on their belt.

A Level Two Instructor has '2' RED BANDS on their belt.

A Level Three Instructor has '3' RED BANDS on their belt, etc...

See the Photo below.....

Neil Holden's 7th Dan W.K.A. Black Belt, featuring 7 Red Bands.


A Martial Arts student can after several gradings achieve a Black belt. However at Warrington Kickboxing, a Black Belt does not automatically qualify someone to teach!

A Black Belt means that you have completed the Kickboxing Syllabus, and now potentially could become an Instructor and pass on the knowledge from completing the syllabus to others.

An Instructor does not learn the required teaching skills purely through academic exams, ( Grading tests ), they also require experience via a 'time served' apprecticeship.

Many of the worlds leading craftsmen learned their skills through a working apprenticeship, rather than only in the class room.

A 1st Degree Black Belt at the Wolf-Gym wishing to become an Instructor, must pass a 2 year probation under the continual guidance of a more senior ranked Instructor.

During the first year they will assist in the teaching of the classes, then in the second year they progress onto teaching classes independently.

Should they show adequate teaching skills over a course of the two years probation, then they will be promoted to the rank of Instructor Level 2.

Their Black Belt will now show two RED BANDS to represent their new rank of 2nd Degree.


A Level 1 ( 1st Degree ) Instructor may teach while under the guidance of a more senior ranked Instructor.

A Level 2 ( 2nd Degree ) Instructor is a 'Fully Qualified Instructor', who can now teach classes independently. They should now have people that they are teaching, begin to progress through the Grading syllabus.

A Level 3 ( 3rd Degree ) Instructor should have trained at least one up to the level of 1st Degree Black Belt.



It takes approximately 3 years training to complete the Kickboxing Grading syllabus and become a 1st Degree Black Belt.

It then takes a further 2 years teaching, ( while under probation ), to gain the promotion to Level 2 ( 2nd Degree ) Black Belt.

Therefore overall, it takes approximately 5 years to become a fully qualified Kickboxing Instructor, ( 2nd Degree Black Belt ), from a reputable Martial Arts Academy.



Further Instructor Levels, ( Ranks ), are awarded upon the recognition of an Instructors time served as a teacher. It rewards an Instructor for their years of continual teaching, dedication, promotion and contribution to the sport.

The time-served criteria, is the most genuine method to promote Instructor Ranks, as it is based specifically upon the date that they as an individual were originally certified as a Level 1 Instructor ( 1st Degree Black Belt ).

People looking to find a qualified Kickboxing Instructor for themselves, or for their children, can be confident of the experience of the Instructor that has been promoted via time-served criteria.

See the following time-served criteria below:-



When you have passed your Level 1 Black Belt examination, you have a degree in Kickboxing, ( you are a 1st Degree Black Belt ). The Black Belt is an Internationally recognised qualification.

Over the last 25 years, Warrington Kickboxing has certified many Black Belts that have then gone on to become Instructors.

If you have aspirations to become a Personal-Trainer or Group-Class Instructor getting certified as a 1st Degree Black Belt in Kickboxing could be an ideal carear path to consider.

A Masters Degree in Kickboxing :

Many people, such as Engineers and Accountants, have a degree in their particular profession. Often these people during their career will continue their studies to expand further their knowledge and attain their Masters degree.

A Masters Degree in Kickboxing is usually awarded once an Instructor has over 15 years experience as a full-time Professional Instructor. It is awarded at the rank of Instructor Level 5 ( 5th Degree Black Belt ).

These Striking coaches are regarded as a Master-Level Instructors due to their extensive knowledge & many years of experience teaching.

Instructors with over 35 years coaching experience, and holding the rank of 8th, 9th and 10th Degree Black Belt, are regarded to as being Grand-Ma
sters or Professors.



Today, the World's number 1 promotion for Combat-Sports is the Mixed-Martial-Arts promotion the U.F.C.

Almost all of the U.F.C. Champions, fighters such as Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, George St-Piere and Benson Henderson hold Black Belts.


Former UFC Middleweight Champion,
Anderson Silva is a highly regarded Black Belt.



Former UFC Middleweight Champion,
Lyoto Machida is a highly regarded Black Belt.


The reason that so many UFC fighters hold Black Belts in their respective styles, is that training in the Martial Arts, towards and then gaining a Black Belt gives a person a solid foundation in technical skills and fitness.


Former UFC Welterweight and Middleweight Champion
George St-Pierre is a highly regarded Black Belt.


If attaining a Black Belt is good enough for some of the World's leading Combat-Sports athletes that compete in the UFC, then it could very well be good enough for you.


Former UFC Lightweight Champion, and leading BELLATOR MMA contender Benson Henderson is a highly regarded Black Belt.



Poster for BELLATOR MMA event in Japan featuring
Chandler ( Black Shorts )
Henderson ( White Shorts
with Black Belt )


Just as the symbol of an highly skilled soldier is the Green Beret...

... the symbol of an highly skilled Martial Artist is the Black Belt.

Not all Martial Arts Academies give their members the option of training towards the goal of achieving the Black Belt, but if this is something that interests you, the Wolf Gym will help you to achieve this goal.


The founder of Warrington Kickboxing, Neil Holden - ( 7th Degree Black Belt W.K.A. ), is the Chief Grading Assessor at the Wolf Gym. Holden, a direct student of Grand Master Sken, has a wealth of experience as an Instructor, and has been training Champions since 1994.

Over twenty five years, 43 Champions from the Wolf-Gym have won a combined total of
78 Title Belts while competing in the Ring and also in the Octagon-Cage.

Champions from the Wolf-Gym have won Area, English, British, Commonwealth, European and World Titles. Two of the Wolf-Gym's team became World Champions, one of which also became the 2005 Warrington sports Personality of the year!

Here Neil Holden is pictured with two of his Champions Jamie Hayes and Jason Melvin.

At this event in 2019, Jamie Hayes, ( Pictured on the left ), was one of our Brown Belt members. Here Jamie had just won the W.K.A. Super-Middleweight title ( 'K-1 rules' ), making him a 2 x Kickboxing Champion, as he also held the W.K.U. title. Jamie
also held an M.M.A. title, this was his third time winning a Championship belt.

Jason Melvin, ( Pictured on the right ), was at the time one of our Blue Belt members. Here Jason had just completed an '8 Man Grandprix', ( Winning 3 bouts in a single tournament ), taking his record to an impressive undefeated run of 5 fights with 5 straight wins as he captured the W.K.A. Super-Heavyweight title ( 'K-1' rules ).

Please take a few minutes to visit each page of this website for lots of information about the Wolf Gym - Warrington Kickboxing Studio, and also about Kickboxing the Combat Sport & Martial Art.

To book in and activate £FREE trial session, please send a text stating "KICKBOXING ENQUIRY :"

and then add your

, your AGE and your EMAIL ADDRESS.

Please send the text to 07973-43-18-18, and a member of our team will contact you.