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 ( Striking-Coach Qualification ) :

Would you like to become a 'Striking-Coach' that can deliver 'Personal-Training', and 'Group-Classes' or even maybe one day own your own Martial Arts Academy?

Perhaps becoming a Striking-Coach as an additional qualification to compliment your current job, or maybe for a total career change?

A 'Degree in Kickboxing' ( 1st Degree Black Belt / Level-1 Striking-Coach ) could be a pathway to these opportunities for you.

For further information about gaining your Level-1 Striking-Coach Qualification ( 1st Degree Black Belt ), with Warrington Kickboxing, the following explains the Striking Syllabus that we use at the Wolf-Gym.

The first thing to understand is that the various styles of Martial arts are generally grouped into two specialities, these being 'STRIKING' or 'GRAPPLING'.

The term 'Striking' covering Muay-Thai, K-1, Karate, Taekwondo...

The term 'Grappling', covering Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Wrestling...

A Martial Artist is usually described as a Striker or a Grappler and has Striking Skills or Grappling Skills.

The following explains the ranking system used at the Wolf-Gym, as our Kickboxers progress through our Striking Syllabus towards their Level-1 Striking-Coach / 1st Degree Black Belt qualification.

The wearing of a belt, is a traditional method used by many clubs that teach Striking.

A Coloured belt clearly shows to other Kickboxers, the level of Striking skills and knowledge that they have, with beginners starting as 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 ranking system used for our Strikers to show their progress 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 1st Degree Black Belt be a training goal for you, 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 Striking Syllabus is a 3 year Black Belt training program, upon completing you will become a registered Level-1 Striking-Coach ( 1st Degree Black Belt ).


Approximately 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 an ideal method of quickly displaying to others the Skill level and experience of a Student. Ideal when people are partnering up during a Group-Class, as you would not want an experienced Brown or Black Belt to partner with a student that was new to training and only at the level of a White or Yellow Belt. Due to this, a coloured belt system was soon adopted by many other Martial Art Styles.

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 ( traditionally referred to as Gradings ), each year for Adult members.

For those eligable, these Pressure-Test days 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 covering Diet, Sport Injuries, Competition Rules & Regulations etc ), to a pre-set level
according to each specific rank. This then gets increasingly harder as the students progresses through the syllabus.

Sparring too, increases with each test, with each requirements such as, 3 x 1.5 minute rounds, 3 x 2 minute rounds, 3 x 3 minute rounds, then
5 x 1.5 minute rounds, 5 x 2 minute rounds, 5 x 3 minute rounds.

Regular Pressure-Testing, helps 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.

Pressure-Testing is a very important part of training at the Wolf-Gym, as this help to preserve the traditional Martial-Arts techniques that are the foundation of the modern day Combat-Sport, something that should be respected.

Many clubs do not do offer their members opportunities to Pressure-Test for Grades at all, and merely focus on Kickboxing as a Combat-Sport, and only teach 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. It should also include 'Self-Defence' applications.

The Wolf-Gym's Striking Syllabus is subject to 'continual-professional-development' ( C-P-D ), reviewed and updated every 6 months. The Syllabus covers both Martial-Arts ( Self Defence ) and Combat-sports ( Competition ) skills.

The Wolf-Gym's Striking Syllabus includes 'Muay-Boran' techniques. 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 Striking 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 Striking Syllabus.

As an example, one particular 'Traditional Martial-Arts' technique, used extensively by Kickboxers who are competing under Mixed-Martial-Arts rules, ( often referred to as 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 tackle. The Jumping-Knee-Kick is a traditional martial-arts ( Muay-Boran ) technique, yet today it is 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 Striking 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 ( Global 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 Striking Syllabus / Black belt training 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, completing the Striking-Syllabus in just under 3 years.

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, and the Wolf-Gym is continually updating and refurbishing.



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 Level-1 Striking-Coach ( 1st Degree Black Belt ), test once they are actually ready, and not for any financial gain.

This ensures the integrity of the academy, and the integrity of the Striking 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 Adult Striking Syllabus, starting from the rank of 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, ( Dan means Level ).

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

A Level One Striking-Coach, has '1' RED BAND on their belt.

A Level Two Striking-Coach has '2' RED BANDS on their belt.

A Level Three Striking-Coach 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 Striking Syllabus, and now potentially could become a fully qualified Level 2 Striking-Coach 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 actual experience via a 'time served' apprenticeship.

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

A Level-1 Striking-Coach ( 1st Degree Black Belt ), at the Wolf-Gym wishing to become a fully qualified to teach, must pass a 2 year probation period under the continual guidance of a more senior ranked Striking-Coach.

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 Level-2 Striking-Coach .

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


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

A Level-2 Striking-Coach ( 2nd Degree Black Belt ) 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 Striking Syllabus.

A Level-3 Striking Coach ( 3rd Degree Black Belt ) should have trained at least
one of the members under their guidance up to the level of 1st Degree Black Belt.



Short anwer, 5 years!

It takes approximately 3 years training to complete the Striking Syllabus become a Level-1 Striking-Coach ( 1st Degree Black Belt ).

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

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




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

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

People looking to find a qualified Striking-Coach ( 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 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 30 years, Warrington Kickboxing has certified many Black Belts that have then gone on to become Striking-Coaches.

If you have aspirations to become a Striking-Coach that can deliver Personal-Training and Group-Classes 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 a Striking-Coach has over 15 years experience as a full-time Professional Instructor. It is awarded at the rank of Level 5 Striking-Coach ( 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 9th and 10th Degree Black Belt, are regarded to as being Grand-Ma
sters or Professors and can use the title of Dai-Shihan or Hanshi.

Hanshi is usually used when the Instructor is head of an Association / Organization, with several Schools under his guidance.




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 thirty years, +50 Champions from the Wolf-Gym have won a combined total of
+80 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 Head-Coach 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.