Some Pencak Silat styles have, mainly under influence of unions and organizations, adapted the modern Japanese system of grading (colored belts for students and instructor levels). The older (village) systems were developed in an environment and time where people already knew the skill levels of the other practitioners.

There was no need to wear a colored piece of cloth to separate between the beginning and more advanced students.

The kyu/dan system from Kodokan, which was introduced for practical and financial reasons, was previously unknown.

A student who had finished the full training program in one of the older systems and gained the trust of his teacher to teach beginners, was often awarded by being able to teach, under supervision of his teacher. Some years later when the teacher found the student skilled enough, the student was allowed to accept his own students and was allowed to represent the style.

Titles were not available in the past. ‘Guru’ as title was commonly used by outsiders or by his students, but certainly not by means of a certificate. It was more a sign of respect for the teacher, for his skill and code of behavior that matched it (adat).

Claims by some present-day teachers, who went to Indonesia to receive a certificate within a very short period, which names them ‘Guru’ or ‘Pendekar’, have to be viewed as utmost controversial.

The social and cultural changes of the last decades have changed this. Nowadays it is normal to see graduations amongst students and instructors within Pencak Silat.

It’s becoming a rarity to have small groups training without the need to train for graduations.

The western world we live in is filled with the need to express our abilities  with certificates and diplomas. We need proof of our skill level and be able to show the certificates we achieved for the various skills.