The International Independent Martial Artists Association (IIMAA) serves as a registry for official martial arts rank across the globe. When registering new IIMAA members who have martial arts rank, it is important to understand the promotion process in martial art rank. A promotion is the awarding of the next higher rank to a member who already has his or her rank certified with the IIMAA. It can only be accomplished when IIMAA member fulfills all the requirements for their next promotion in a specific martial art rank system or in a martial art rank system from a recognized martial art organization as determined by the IIMAA board.


The IIMAA martial arts federations will recognize your current rank that has been earned from a credible school or organization in good standing. This is NOT a promotion. You must provide a copy of the certification you want us to recognize.  Rank Recognition is included with membership.


The IIMAA issues or has relationships with organizations (i.e. Kukkiwon, USJA, etc.) who issue rank in Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Aikido, Krav Maga, etc. To be considered or supported in rank either through the IIMAA or through one of its related organizations, you need to complete the appropriate application. Rank can be issued at either the Kyu or Dan levels.


You've worked for years and take pride in the rank you've earned. The last thing you want is to think that the organization you're a member of is simply selling membership or worse - rank.


Every effort is taken to verify and validate ranks. 

 Note: There are many martial art federations whose rank credentials are recognized by the IIMAA. If the new member has acceptable rank credentials, he or she may have their rank certified in the IIMAA at the current martial art rank. 

Martial Arts Ranking and Promotions


We have members in many different styles. If you are a member and do not see your style represented below please let us know so we can add it to the list. 

Kung fu

The term kung fu means ‘a skill or ability to do something’. It is also referred to as ‘Wushu’. This martial art is believed to have been created by the monks of the Shaolin temple in China.

Kung fu comprises development of external strength: muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as internal strength: mental focus and chi manipulation. It includes both, bare-handed fighting techniques, and also the effective use of rudimentary weapons.


The name Judo means the ‘gentle way’. This art was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano in the late nineteenth century.

Judo is basically an unarmed martial art, which has been derived from Ju-Jitsu. It trains the practitioner in the use of different holds and grappling techniques, to quickly unbalance an opponent, making him fall down, where a joint-lock or a choke is employed in order to get him to submit.


The term Karate means ’empty handed’ in Japanese. Master Gichin Funakoshi made this self-defense methods simple, and appended a philosophical touch to the art. He is widely credited for introducing and popularizing it in the main islands of Japan.

Karate borrows from different Chinese martial arts, and is basically an unarmed combat system that relies on using the hands and feet to deliver, as well as defend against punches and kicks.

Jeet Kune Do

Bruce Lee, the noted martial artist and actor, is the initiator of this system. The name, when translated, means ‘way of the intercepting fist’.

Jeet kune do is a more modern form of martial art, which incorporates techniques from kung-fu, fencing, and boxing. Its main principle is to be able to adapt according to the opponent’s fighting style and situation. It relies on strong and fast offensive maneuvers, including kicking, punching, grappling, and trapping to defeat the enemy.

Krav Maga

The birth place of this art is Israel. However, owing to its effectiveness, military units and police forces have been practicing it all over the world.

Krav maga is a form of self-defense, which teaches one to use reflexive responses to get through threatening situations. In it, defending against both, unarmed as well as armed opponents is taught. It also comprises several drills and exercise routines to build stamina and strengthen the muscles.


This art originated in Brazil during the 19th century among the African slaves. Drums and other musical instruments are used to create a rhythm to the tunes of which this art is practiced.

Capoeira constitutes various elements from dance and acrobatics, and is known for its rapid and complex moves, that include a variety of kicks and spins. It relies on the practitioner’s speed and power to take down an opponent.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was borrowed from Judo by the Gracie family in the early 20th century. It mainly focuses on ground-based fighting, using grappling maneuvers and submission techniques.

Tae Kwon Do

The phrase Tae kwon do means ‘the way of hand and foot’ in Korean. It is a Korean martial art that borrows from Okinawan karate, Chinese martial arts, and ancient traditional Korean combat arts of taekkyeon and gwonbeop.

It is a form of unarmed self-defense system, wherein the emphasis is on potent kicks, rather than on hand strikes.


Arnis is a fighting style developed in the Philippines by its inhabitants as a means of self-preservation against invaders and local conflicts.

In this martial art, weapons like knives, swords, and rattan sticks are used, along with various stances, blocking, footwork, and disarming maneuvers to overpower an opponent.

Muay Thai

This is the national sport of Thailand. It is known as the science of 8 limbs, because it comprises 8 striking points as opposed to 2 in boxing and 4 in other traditional arts. Muay thai fighters can employ the knees, elbows, feet, shins, and fists to strike the opponent. It works well for both, normal as well as close-range combats.


Jujitsu is one of the most ancient martial arts out there, and more than 2,500 years old. It was originally developed as a means of self-defense against armored opponents, such as the Samurai warriors of the time, on whom punches and kicks were ineffective. This technique therefore emphasizes on locks, throws, and other defensive techniques, to unbalance the opponent and bring him to the ground.

Kenjutsu means ‘the method, or technique, of the sword’. It is a sword fighting style, that has its origins in Japan. It was used by the samurai to master the use of katana.

Sumo is a full contact Japanese martial art, which has a history spanning centuries. It is basically a test of strength, wherein one wrestler tries to force another outside the bounds of a circular ring, or make him touch the ground with any body part other than the soles of his feet.

Traditionally, sumo wrestlers are required to live together in sumo training stables, where all the aspects of their daily lives are governed according to the strict set of rules laid down by the Japan Sumo Association.

Sambo is short for ‘Samooborona Bez Orushia’. In Russian, it implies ‘self-defense without weapons’. It is a relatively modern form of martial art, having been first brought into practice in the 1920s by the Soviet Red Army as a means to improve their hand-to-hand combat skills.

This style merges the most effective techniques from several martial arts, including Judo and a number of other traditional wrestling styles. Along with powerful strikes and blows, it also comprises throwing, groundwork, and submission techniques.

The word Ninjutsu, when translated, means the ‘art of stealth’. It is a fighting style which mainly focuses on espionage tactics and guerrilla warfare. Ninjutsu was formulated and commonly practiced by the shinobi, popularly known outside Japan as the ninjas. It involves strict mental and physical conditioning, and the employment of several unconventional moves of combat.

‘Ai’ means harmony, ‘ki’ means spirit, and ‘do’ means way. Founder Morihei Ueshiba developed this fighting style by combining his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs.

Unlike most other martial arts, the central principle of Aikido is to allow practitioners to defend themselves, while at the same time prevent their attackers from being seriously injured. The focus is on using the attacker’s energy and momentum against him, by using strategic entering and turning movements, and to quickly get him on the ground, where a submission lock can be employed.

Yoseikan Budo
Yoseikan Budo is a composite martial art, into which various other techniques from other martial arts have been integrated. It consists of altered techniques of Judo, Aikido, Jujitsu, and Karate.

While the current form of this fighting style as practiced in the USA comprises mainly groundwork and submission maneuvers, originally, it also included striking techniques as well as the use of different weapons.

American Kenpo
Devised by Ed Parker, American Kempo is a style of fighting that is viewed as a form of self-defense. Different versions of this art are taught by a number of instructors, since Ed died before naming a true successor.

American Kempo makes use of a rapid succession of hand strikes, aimed at overwhelming the enemy and landing as many blows as possible in a short time duration. Kicks are rarely used, and are typically kept low with the intention of preventing the practitioner’s balance from being lost during a fight.

Wing Chun Kung Fu
Wing Chun kung Fu is a concept-based martial art, which is taught as a means of self-defense. It is named after the legend of a young Chinese woman called Yim Wing-Chun, who was able to defeat a warlord in a one-on-one confrontation through it.

It employs both, striking and grappling techniques, along with a specialized close-range combat repertoire.

Choi Kwang Do
Choi kwang do is a modern self-defense technique developed by Kwang Jo Choi, who initially was a tae kwon do practitioner. He developed this new martial art form to prevent the injuries which he believed resulted from practicing tae kwon do.

Choi kwang do focuses on flexibility and smooth fluid movements, which generate sufficient force without putting a lot of strain on the joints. It also comprises breathing and stretching exercises, from yoga to conditioning the body, and to improving flexibility.

Gatka is a south Asian martial art that has its origins in northern India, and what is now Pakistan. It was mainly practiced by the Punjabi Sikhs.

Gatka is a weapon-based combat training, which mainly focuses on training one to use swords and shields. Its techniques are effective for both, offense as well as defense, and are very spectacular to watch.

Kumdo is a modern Korean martial art derived from Japanese Kendo. Translated, it mean the ‘way of the sword’.

Kumdo is taught using ‘juk do’, which is a 4-split bamboo sword, and ‘ho goo’, meaning the head and body gear. Real swords are also used, but only for the demonstration of skills, and not in actual sparring sessions.

Kajukenbo is an American hybrid martial art. The name Kajukenbo is indicative of the different arts that are used in this style: Ka – Karate, Ju – Judo and Jujutsu, Ken – Kenpo, and Bo – Western and Chinese boxing.

This fighting art incorporates striking, kicking, throwing, take-downs, joint-locks, and also weapon disarmament techniques.

Kyokushinkai Karate
This was created by Sosai Masutatsu Oyama in 1955. It is a full-contact fighting style, that has a large international presence, with more than 12 million followers in only the last few decades.

Kyokushin is considered by many to be the strongest form of karate. It is known for its rigorous training and physical conditioning. It comprises intense body contact moves in sparring, and heavily relies on circular motions for increased momentum.

Tai Chi Chuan
Known all over the world for its health benefits and for its effectiveness in reducing tension and stress, tai chi chuan is a Chinese martial art that was originally designed to train one for self-defense. It relies on the use of internal power (chi), which the practitioner learns to use through years of training, exercises, and meditation.

The use of tai chi in combat is a test of one’s understanding of this method of fighting. Unlike other martial art forms, it requires the employment of appropriate changes, such as yielding and sticking, rather than using opposing force against an oncoming attack.

Shotokan Karate
Shotokan is a form of karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi.
This Japanese fighting style focuses on developing powerful, anaerobic techniques and speed.

Initial training helps develop power and speed, and as the student advances to the brown or black belt, development of a much more fluid style, also comprising grappling and throwing, is achieved.

Greco-Roman wrestling
This is a wrestling style which forms a popular sport that is practiced worldwide. It requires the practitioner to develop physical strength through heavy training as well as proper technique and form through a lot of practice.

This style doesn’t allow the use of holds below waist level, so a lot of focus is put on using throws in the offensive, and in avoiding them in the defensive by hooking onto the opponent’s leg. The goal in Greco-Roman wrestling is to pin the opponent’s shoulders to the ground.

Kickboxing, as the name suggests, is a combat technique that employs kicking and punching to take down an opponent. It is based on other prominent martial arts, including muay thai, karate, and Western boxing. Kickboxing is a major sporting event across the world, and is also practiced as a means of self-defense and for staying fit.

Hwa Rang Do
This Korean martial art was created by Joo Bang Lee and his brother Joo Sang Lee. It includes learning various fighting techniques, mental-ability training, spiritual training, and even different artistic pursuits.

In the physical training, a practitioner will learn different punching and kicking techniques, and how to defend against them, as well as against locks, throws, and other offensive maneuvers. Using and defending against various weapons, such as nunchakus, long staffs, sticks, and swords is also taught.

Iaido is a modern Japanese sword fighting technique, that teaches the use of the samurai sword for attacking using a single strike.

It uses smooth controlled motions, that typically begin with the drawing of the sword from the scabbard, striking the opponent, and then replacing it back in. It requires a lot of practice and a great deal of concentration.

Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art, widely considered to be the oldest fighting system in existence. It is now chiefly practiced in the Indian states of Kerala, parts of Tamil Nadu, and by some of members of the Malayali community in Malaysia.

This martial art form utilizes strikes, kicks, jumps, grappling, and other complex maneuvers. It also includes training in the use of weapons, as well as different healing methods.

Kendo is a modern weaponized martial art that has originated from the ancient swordsmanship technique – kenjutsu. It is now practiced mainly in Japan, and also in many different places around the world.

Kendo is a style of fencing that uses both the hands to maximize the power of the strikes. It requires a lot of physical and mental conditioning through intense practice. Nowadays, Kendo is practiced using wooden swords and by wearing protective gear.

Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu
Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu is a Japanese combat art made popular by headmaster Takeda Sokaku, who is regarded as either the restorer or founder of this art.

The main principle of this style of fighting is to quickly neutralize an attack, and to gain the upper hand early on. It utilizes throwing techniques, joint manipulation, and different means of using the enemy’s force and movement against him. It involves striking the attacker’s vital areas to set up joint-locking or throwing tactics.

Freestyle Wrestling
Freestyle wrestling has its origins from ‘catch-as-catch-can’ wrestling in Great Britain and USA. It is a form of amateur wrestling, where the ultimate aim is to throw or pin down your opponent to the ground. Unlike Greco-Roman, this style allows the wrestler to use his own or his opponent’s legs in offense as well as defense.

Freestyle wrestling is considered to be the most complete style of stand-up wrestling, featuring elements of traditional wrestling, sambo, and judo.

Pencak Silat
This is a set of Indonesian martial arts, that depends on the usage indigenous weapons and animal styles. The word ‘pencak’ signifies performance, while the term ‘silat’ signifies fighting and self-defense.

Pencak silat was developed as an effective method of combat and self-defense by the people of these islands, to protect and fight against the Japanese and Dutch, and years of internal civil war. This fighting style draws from boxing and wrestling. It features both, armed and unarmed fighting techniques.

Tang Soo do
This ancient style of fighting originated about 2,000 years ago in Korea, and is considered to be one of the oldest forms of karate. It also consists of elements from other prominent martial arts, such as subak, taekkyon, and Chinese kung fu.

Tang Soo do practitioners use hand strikes, kicks, and blocks to defend themselves. They also utilize grappling techniques similar to jiu-jitsu or aikido. This style highly emphasizes on breathing techniques.

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