Black belt is a prestigious rank, one recognized around the world. In the American Eagle Style, there are ten degrees (levels or Dan) of black belt. Only one person may hold the rank of 10th Dan, the head of the school who determines its direction and certifies its instructors. For the American Martial Arts Institute, this is its Founder Grandmaster Crandall. In addition, there are 8 gyups (belt ranks) that must be earned prior to testing for first degree black belt. All students begin as white belts and test for each rank, maturing in the style through its traditional process.
Essential for all students who test for the black belt ranks is a demonstration of school involvement, a proper martial arts attitude and accountability. This includes participating in seminars, weapons' competitions, sparring competitions, weapon's classes, cleaning days, ceremonial luncheons, and other events held by the school throughout the year which help students grow as traditional martial artists. These events are held specifically as part of their training, and the student must choose to become involved in these areas areas as part of their rank's responsibilities. They must also have attended multiple classes each week in the months prior to testing, including attending every day of the week multiple times to be seen by all five Master Instructors and other instructors (see your instructor if you have questions). They must be directly accountable to their instructor reporting on their attendance, participation, and other factors.
On Friday, December 2, 2016 one candidate tested for 1st Degree Black Belt, Junior Rank before a panel of judges led by Grandmaster Crandall. The panel was comprised of the five Master Instructors, the titled instructors and additional fifth and sixth degree instructors. The testing lasted just over 3 hours with the candidate demonstrating a wealth of knowledge and skills, beginning with an intensive written examination including information about the style, the school and more.
Following the written exam, physical skills and knowledge of the student were tested. The first degree (junior rank) candidates are required to know 13 traditional katas, including Chulgi 1, Eye of the Eagle, the Palgwes, and others. Other areas included punches, kicks, stances, 36 basic forms, floor exercises, takedowns, self-defense, defenses against guns and knives, sparring individual and multiple opponents, bag work, come-along techinques, and other areas. All first degree candidates are also required to write a 500 word paper prior to the testing, which must be accepted by the Master Instructors and Grandmaster Crandall. The junior rank candidates did not need to demonstrate board breaking, weapons forms, spar partners over 18 years of age, or demonstrate the kata Old Koryo, as adult rank candiates must.
The American Martial Arts Institute is a traditional school. In part, this means that the style's knowledge, techniques, ettiquettes, philosophy, and processes are maintained consistently from generation-to-generation. The rank of first degree black belt cannot be earned prior to a minimum of 5 1/2 years of training, and generally takes 6-8 years or more to earn. The rank of first degree is graded out of a score of 100 possible points, with a minimum of 80 points needed to pass.
First degree black belt candidates may also bring in up to 15 of their martial arts books or DVDs, including resources not produced by the American Martial Arts Institute. The students are expected to have written their name in each of these items, as they are part of their personal library. Grandmaster Crandall, the Master Instructors (and sometimes other members of the juding panel) pose questions to the candidates about their books and what they have learned from them, including questions regarding their current perspective of the martial arts, its history, styles, and other other aspects. This verbal nquestion and answer session is part of the candidate's grade and can also include a written component.
This is only a small part of what goes into earning a black belt in the Amerian Eagle Style.
Grandmaster Crandall is pleased to announce that the following American Eagle Style student has passed her black belt examination:
1st Degree Black Belt, Junior Rank Status Gabrielle Papale
Candidates receive their certificate of rank at the next black belt ceremonial luncheon.