After years of preparation and dedication, four individuals tested and earned their black belts on Saturday, December 12, 1998 in the American Eagle Style of martial arts.
The four people included:
Junior Rank Justin Lindstrom = 1st Degree Black Belt
Adult Rank Steven Riley = 2nd Degree Black Belt Jesse Merrill = 2nd Degree Black Belt Peter Freedman = 3rd Degree Black Belt
The rank of black belt in the martial arts, whether it be in Japan, Korea, China or the United States, is the most prestigious rank there is. Yes, there are 10 levels of black belt in most styles, but first degree or first level black belt is the milestone of achievement for the normal martial arts practitioner. In the American Martial Arts Institute the average time to earn this rank is five years. Some schools surround this testing with secrecy and fear. Rather than a test of skill and ability, it becomes cultish with hazing. The American Martial Arts Institute sees this testing as a time of demonstrating knowledge learned and the opportunity to learn more. Students are allowed to talk about their testing and the achievement. The areas tested are many and the areas emphasized do change with each testing as well as the 45 minute written exam. The test involves a demonstration of forms, kicks, sparring against one, then two and then three opponents simultaneously,breaking wood and, most importantly, the demonstration of up to 16 different katas or forms. The test for the above-mentioned people started at 1:30 p.m. and was over at 5:30 p.m. The judging panel was made up of seven titled Black Belt Instructors. This group is headed by Grandmaster Clifford Crandall Jr.