Curriculum Cards and how to Rank Up
Curriculum Cards (also known as Skill Sheets) and Ranking Up are two fundamental aspects of Firestorm that are as important as they are shrouded in mystery. Well, perhaps shrouded in mystery is too extreme a term, but exactly how the two work, and their requirements are not always common knowledge. So today, we are going to dig into Curriculum Cards and Ranking Up, discovering how they were created, what they signify, what the requirements are to Rank Up!
There are 8 unique sports offered for at Firestorm, with seven of them having their own curriculums. The only sport without a curriculum (something that will be changing soon) is the Ninja Warrior training class.
Each curriculum has seven levels, starting at White Rank, moving through Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Red, and ending with Black Rank. Every new student, regardless of their background, age, or skill level, starts as a White Rank. White Rank is the level where students begin learning their basic safety and coordination skills, creating a solid foundation for the more advanced skills learned in higher Rank classes. This is why everyone starts as a White Rank, to make sure they have ALL the skills they will need in the higher Ranks, not just most of them.
Each sports curriculum has been created by teams of Coaches who not only teach these skills, but actively practice them. For example, the Parkour curriculum has been redesigned 4 times since Firestorm opened. Each time taking what the Coaches have learned in teaching thousands of students in hundreds of classes, and putting that knowledge to use in creating an even more well rounded curriculum. A LOT of love, sweat, blood, and tears have been shed in pursuit of the best possible curriculums. Changes and updates are still made each year in an effort to continually improve.
The Rank Levels and what they Signify
White Ranks, or as we sometimes call them, Cadets, are our brand new students. White Rank is the equivalent of Level 1. Both White Rank and Orange Rank (lvl 2) are where students learn their foundational basics, setting them up to do well with higher level skills. Once a student has adequately displayed the skills need to make it to Green Rank in any sport type, that student is considered to have enough knowledge to train their basic skills safely on their own. This is why we allow students under the age of 18 who have achieved their Green Rank to train at Adult Open Gym with the Adult Athletes. This allows the students to see how the adult members and Athletes of our community approach their training.
Green Rank (lvl 3) and Blue Rank (Lvl 4) is where students begin to discover medium difficulty skills based off the foundational safety skills learned in White and Orange Rank. Making it to Green or Blue means you have already achieved more than most. In Parkour, these are the two levels that teach you the foundations of Freerunning; flips, spins, and other fun powerful acrobatic moves.
Purple Rank (lvl 5) and Red Rank (Lvl 6) are where advanced skills are taught. These Ranks are now learning some unique advanced skills that may have no foundation in the earlier Ranks. These are the Ranks where you begin to create a mastery of your sport, creating your own type of movement and style, discovering what it is that brings you joy in your training and putting an emphasis on that. The Red Rank is the final Rank that requires the learning and mastery of new skills.
Black Rank (Lvl 7) is the final Rank at Firestorm, but definitely not the end of training or acquiring new skills. The Black Rank is the only Rank that does not require mastery of new skills to Rank Up. Instead Black Rank is achieved by working a professional performance in the acrobatic, theater, or stunt industry utilizing the skills learned in the earlier six Ranks. We refer to Black Rank as the “Pro” or “Professional Rank”. Earning your Black Rank is a massive achievement at Firestorm, showing not only as mastery of skills, but of a way of utilizing those skills to help create something amazing in a professional setting.
In five years of Firestorm history, only four individuals have earned Black Ranks. Coach Kevin Desrosiers (TK) - Black Rank Tumbling
Coach Garrett Myers - Black Rank Tumbling
Coach Aaron Wee - Black Rank Tumbling
Coach Justin Taylor - Black Rank Parkour/Freerunning, Black Rank Trampoline/Trampwall, and Black Rank Tumbling
What happens when a student Ranks Up?
When enough skills have been mastered to Rank Up (explained further down below) a Rank Up ceremony will be held at the end of that class. Students will receive their Rank Up Certificate, New Rank shirt and Band, and be praised for their hard work by their peers. Ranking up also unlocks the ability to participate in more advanced classes, learning new skills. Parkour offers three different Rank specific classes. Anyone, or any Rank can participate in a White Rank class, but the opportunity to participate in an Orange or Green Rank+ class MUST BE EARNED.
Achieving Green Rank (lvl 3) allows students under 18 to train at Adult Open Gym. Green Rank also lets students join in the more advanced classes like Advanced Trampoline and Freerunning Green+ classes. Green Rank allows students to apply to join the Parkour Competition Team (if the Green Rank is in Parkour), and apply to be trained as an Assistant Coach for Camps and Special Events.
How does a Student Rank Up?
Ranking Up occurs when a student has every skill on their curriculum card signed off by a Coach. Every sport, and each Rank, with the exception of Parkour, requires EACH and EVERY skill on the Curriculum Card to be signed off in order to Rank Up.
To get a skill signed off, students must show they know the name of the skill and are capable of demonstrating the skill correctly three times in a row with no assistance or correction from a Coach. When a skill that was previously signed off by a Coach is tested and shows the student can no longer correctly demonstrate the skill, the skill is “whited out” and must be demonstrated correctly three times in a row before it can be signed off again.
The Parkour Curriculum is unique in its design and how students Rank Up. Curriculum skills are broken into the four primary Parkour class types: Floor, Vaults, Walls, and Bars. Each of these four sections of the curriculum have 7-10 skills per section. Parkour has more skills per Rank required than any other two sports types combined. It can, and should, take a while to learn a large amount of fundamental skills and movements. Because there are so many skills to learn, students can Rank up in Parkour without having EVERY skill signed off like every other sports curriculum.
Parkour (PK) White to Orange Rank - Students can miss one skill/section in three of the four sections OR miss two skills in only one section
***Shoulder Roll, as the primary foundation of safety techniques, MUST be signed off in order to Rank Up to Orange
PK Orange Rank through Purple Rank - Students can miss up to one skill/section in up to three sections
PK Purple to Red Rank - This Rank has its own unique curriculum style due to the varying types and styles of high level skills learned in this Rank. Similar types of skills are grouped together and a set amount of these skills must be learned. The student chooses which skills in this group they want to focus on. Ex: Floor Section --- Full Twisting Flips (Must learn 3 of 5) 1. Front Flip Full Twist
2. Back Flip Full Twist
3. Side Flip Full Twist
5. Full Twisting Dive Roll
Okay, when can I get Skills Signed Off?
Skills can get signed off by a Coach in a few different ways.
Classes - Skills shown to be well executed multiple times or executed to the Coaches satisfaction will be marked off. The first full week of each month is SHEET WEEK, where Coaches place an emphasis on seeing what skills students have learned well enough to sign off.
Open Gym - At slow, or sparsely populated Open Gyms, students can request to demonstrate up to two skills to a Coach for signing off. If the Coach agrees and the skill is executed to the Coaches satisfaction three times in a row, it will be signed off. If the Coach has to give any corrections, the skill cannot be signed of and the student will have to wait till another Open Gym to attempt that skill again.
Private Lesson/Testing - Students can hire a Coach for a Private Lesson and have themselves tested on the entire curriculum to see what they have signed off, what they still need to work on, and receive drills to work on from their Coach.
The Curriculums, signing off skills, and Ranking Up can be confusing whether you are brand new to Firestorm or a long time veteran. The Firestorm Coaches will do our best to continue to provide a diverse curriculum and teach students the skills they need to Rank Up.
In your journey through the Firestorm Ranks what has been the hardest thing for you to learn or overcome in order to Rank up?
Train Hard, Train Safe
Programs Director, Firestorm Freerunning & Acrobatics