Ranking System

Grand Master Jimmy H. Woo, taught, “Remember that the strong green tree that stops growing withers and gradually dies.” In other words, the student that does not continually strive to learn will gradually lose the skills they have acquired.

The following information is a guideline for advancement in the art of Kung Fu San Soo (散手功夫) and as a guideline it is exactly that, a guideline. We do not follow the time table exactly to the letter because every student learns differently. Belt advancement is on an individual basis only and many variables are taken into consideration for belt placement. Time training, training frequency, technique, knowledge, and attitude are just some of these variables taken in consideration. Unlike some martial arts out there,  we do not simply promote those who just pay their monthly fee or those who just show up every month. We promote only on the merit of the student’s skill and understanding of San Soo. While there is nothing wrong with being goal oriented, do not be overly focused on belt advancement; be focused on getting better.

Below is an average time table for each rank:

White Belt:

You enroll as a white belt. From the day you enroll, it takes the average person, who continues training and progressing, about 4-6 months to qualify for their yellow belt. At this level, you will learn under  supervised instruction the way of San Soo. This is the beginning of your internship to become a professional fighter.

Yellow Belt:

Yellow belt is the second phase of your internship in San Soo on becoming a professional fighter. This belt represents that the individual has mastered certain basic skills in techniques, and forms and has started their professional development.

Green Belt:

This is the final phase of your internship. With the Green Belt, the practitioner has perfected basic fighting skills necessary to become a professional fighter in the San Soo system. All green belt students will also have at least two traditional San Soo weapons, as well as knife, and baton fighting. Students at this level are also expected to have acquired knowledge of San Soo terminology by this time. This Belt requires 10 to 12 months of study from Yellow Belt.

Brown Belt:

This Belt is the junior black belt rank. It is the fulfillment and perfection of the Green Belt. All the basic fighting skills are brought to a higher degree of perfection, combined with the study of three more weapons and San Soo Fut Ga’s (Attacks). The Brown Belt is trained in the ways of becoming a Black Belt. Requires Up to 1 Year of Additional Study from Green Belt. By this point you have a spent a minimum of 2 years from white belt.

Black Belt:

The final belt rank in the San Soo System of Fighting is composed of nine levels of mastery. The Black Belt ranking starts with your initial Black Belt, then proceeds from 1st Degree to 8th Degree (the rank of Master). Degrees of black belt are achieved within 12 months of receiving your black belt, providing the student continues training and progressing. Every additional year of training after your black belt earns you a degree. There are seven degrees of black belt leading up to your 8th degree or the rank of Master. The initial black belt is the culmination of at least four years of continuous training. In addition to increased training in techniques and Fut Ga, it includes 5 new San Soo weapons (San Soo weapons are often optional but highly recommended if you plan to teach.) Black belt is achieved within 12-18 months of brown belt, providing the student is 18 years of age and has passed the various requirements. From white to black belt, it takes between 4 to 5 years.


The rank, Master of Kung Fu San Soo, is achieved after 8 years of training from receiving your black belt, with a minimum of 11 years of San Soo training.


The rank, Grandmaster of Kung Fu San Soo, has historically, been attained by only two people.  To become a Grandmaster, one must attain each of the following accomplishments:

1. Hold the rank of Master in Kung Fu San Soo.

2. Have instructed the art of San Soo for over 30 years.

3. Have taught a son or daughter of 18 years of age to the level of black belt.

4. Have taught a grandchild of 18 years of age to the level of black belt.