6 Secrets to Success with ATA Tiny Tigers: Part 3

Written by on June 20, 2011

Secret #3: progress is slow

             In my school, over the last twelve to fifteen years, we have used TWO different advancement formats before settling on the one that has worked best for us.  At first, there was PLAN #1: advance them every three months.  This approach worked rather well because they spent THREE FULL MONTHS studying the same block of material.   But it became cumbersome because we had 10 different graduations per year  (6 for K4K and 4 for TIGERS) and created too much administrative work (ATA reports, inventory controls, notices and newsletters).

 A real disaster!

In PLAN #2, we advanced them EVERY TWO months, along with the K4K and adults.  That was an absolute disaster!  Even with the “half-rank” advancement, it did not take long for us to have too many high ranked TIGERS who were not ready to handle the responsibility of being a K4K blue belt.   We had to consider the idea of advanced TIGER classes and possible TIGER black belts.  But I did not want to do that because I did not want TIGERS earning black belts without being able to break effectively, spar with confidence, and do powerful forms.

Plan #3 finally works!

So we hatched plan #3: advance 3-4 year olds every FOUR months; 5-6 year olds could possibly go every TWO months.  To be certain I would not have any 5 year old blue belts, I actually calculated the age and rank of a “hypothetical student” who starts at age 3 and graduates every FOUR months, using the TIGER half rank system.  It worked out perfectly to produce a 7-year-old purple or blue belt.  And remember, no tiger automatically advances.   Each is still held to some minimum performance criteria for his rank and receives permission from the classroom instructor to advance! 


  1. Pat Cunningham   On   July 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Good Afternoon,

    I like your system of rank promotion,
    I had the same situation so now my tiny tiger students test every 9 weeks the same as K4K and adults, but the first two testings they get an animal patch on there belt and when they have two patches they can test for the belt.
    K4K and adults all do half ranks. Tiny Tigers become K4K at 7 years old.

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